The University of Edinburgh was established by a Royal Charter granted by James VI in 1582. The funding for the university was provided by the Edinburgh Town Council. Among the many famous graduates of the university are David Hume, John Witherspoon, James Boswell, Benjamin Rush, Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jessie Chrystal MacMillan, Max Born, Baroness Jennie Lee and Julius Nyerere.
The university has over 20,000 students with some 3,600 with an international background. The program of undergraduate study has over 350 degree courses and 200 joint degree combinations. Additionally it has an extensive postgraduate study program.
In addition to the research and postgraduate activities the university promotes lifelong learning in a variety of formats including day and evening classes, short courses, summer school and classes designed for continuing professional development. All of this is to support the University's fundamental mission — the advancement and dissemination of knowledge and understanding.
Among the well-known people delivering the Gifford lectures at the University of Edinburgh are: Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead, John Dewey, Reinhold Niebuhr, Iris Murdoch, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Jurgen Moltmann, Paul Ricoeur, John Hick, Alasdair MacIntryre, John Polkinghorne, Holmes Rolston, Martha Nussbaum and J Wentzel van Huyssteen.