Founded in the 16th Century, the University of Edinburgh has from the outset been a centre of enlightenment, founded by local democratic action, rather than by the Papal decrees which had authorised the 3 pre-existing Scottish Universities. Scotland's (and Edinburgh's in particular) much readier access to education and erudition helped to earn it its place at the heart of the European Enlightenment, while England's much larger population were provided with only two universities.
The university, in scope and philosophy, has always reached to Europe's thinkers for inspiration, and its thoroughly international, rather than parochial, ethos imbued Edinburgh with a reputation for academia and learning. Even the architecture of the beautiful quadrangle, designed by the same visionary William Henry Playfair who designed the New Town (the Scottish empiricism in deciding to aid a city's ills by designing an appendix from scratch is striking); there and here he reaches to the Classical majesty of the Ancient World, evoking symmetry and a shared wealth of European culture - Edinburgh even owes its design to European ideas!
Today, the university benefits tremendously from the legions of European students who apply to study here, from EU-sponsored academic co-operation (not least in the Erasmus+ programme), and from freedom of movement, which ensures it can attract talented students and faculty from across the continent.