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The University of St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotlandmarker and third oldest in the English-speaking world, having been founded between 1410 and 1413. The University is situated in the town of St Andrewsmarker, in Fifemarker, on the east coast of Scotland.

St Andrews is a member of the 1994 Group, a network of smaller research-intensive Britishmarker universities. In the 2009 Guardian rankings, the university ranked 3rd in the UK.


The University was founded in 1410 when a charter of incorporation was bestowed upon the Augustinian priory of St Andrews Cathedral. A Papal Bull was issued in 1413 by the Avignon Pope Benedict XIII. A royal charter was granted in 1532. The University grew in size quite rapidly; A pedagogy, St John's College was founded 1418-1430 by Robert of Montrose and Lawrence of Lindores, St Salvator's College was established in 1450, St Leonard's College in 1511, and St Mary's College in 1537. St Mary's College was a re-foundation of St Johns College and earlier pedagogy. Some of the early college buildings that are in use today date from this period such as St Salvator's Chapel and St Leonards College chapel and St Mary's College quadrangle. At this time, much of the teaching was of a religious nature and was conducted by clerics associated with the cathedral.

From the 17th to 19th centuries, the university underwent many changes. Toward the end of the seventeenth century, the university considered and eventually rejected a move to Perthmarker. In 1747, St Salvator's and St Leonard's merged to form the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard.

During the 19th century, student numbers were very low, in the 1870s, the student population was fewer than 150, and perhaps partly in response to this, the university founded University College in Dundeemarker in 1897, which became a centre of medical, scientific and legal excellence. This affiliation ended in 1967 when the college, renamed Queen's College, became a separate and independent institution as the University of Dundeemarker. The loss of teaching facilities for clinical medicine caused the university's Bute Medical School to form a new attachment with the University of Manchestermarker, which was then expanding its clinical medicine intake.

A new School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews will be named in honour of B.C. Sekhar, after the sizeable sum of £8.25m towards building costs was donated by his son, Malaysianmarker entrepreneur Vinod Sekhar.


View Across St. Salvator's College
UK University Rankings]]
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Times Good University Guide 4th 5th 5th 20th 7th 9th
Guardian University Guide 3rd 5th 4th 42nd 43rd 11th
Sunday Times University Guide 5th 5th 6th 14th 14th
Complete University Guide 7th 7th 5th
Daily Telegraph 5th

The independent IpsosMORI National Student Survey 2006 commissioned by HEFCE placed it third among the UK universities. It has achieved the most consistently high ratings in research assessment exercises with no subjects receiving a rating lower than 4 on a grading scale 1-5*, where 5* denotes outstanding international research. The departments of English and Psychology have received a 5*, and 72% of staff across the university received a 5 or 5* rating. The Philosophical Gourmet report ranks St Andrews' joint graduate programme in philosophy with Stirling University second in the UK.

Nearly eight in ten graduates obtain a First Class or an Upper Second Class Honours degree. A similar proportion enter further employment requiring a respected degree or obtaining placements for further postgraduate research. The ancient Scottish universities award Master of Arts degrees (except for science students who are awarded a Bachelor of Science degree) which are classified upon graduation, in contrast to Oxbridge where one becomes a Master of Arts after a certain number of years, and the rest of the UK, where graduates are awarded BAs.

The latest UCAS figures show that there are generally 12 applications per undergraduate place available, and the University has not entered Clearing since 2003. The standard offer of a place tends to require at a minimum AAABB at Scottish Highers for Scottish applicants, AAB at GCE A Levels for English, Welsh and Northern Irish candidates, or a score of at least 36 points on the International Baccalaureate.

The university has a widening participation policy; however, the university has one of the smallest percentages of students from lower income backgrounds, out of all higher education institutions in the UK. Intake from Independent schools in England is high. At the same time, the average price for accommodation for students at St Andrews is more than that for students at any other university in Scotland.



Students in the snow.
One of the most conspicuous traditions at St Andrews is the wearing of academic dress, particularly the distinctive red undergraduate gown of the United College. Undergraduates in Arts and Science subjects can be seen wearing these garments at the installation of a Rector or Chancellor, at chapel services, on 'Pier Walks', at formal hall dinners, at meetings of the Union Debating Society, or giving tours to prospective students and visitors. Divinity students wear a black undergraduate gown. (See Academic dress of the University of St Andrews.) It is considered bad luck to wear the gown when one is not a matriculated student, such an event is said to result in a similar curse as stepping on the Patrick Hamilton cobbles, then only cure for which is the May Dip.

Raisin Weekend

Raisin Weekend is the highlight of the social calendar at the University. Held annually over the last weekend of November, first years are entertained by their academic parents, normally consisting of a tea party thrown by the mothers and then a tour of pubs conducted by the fathers. This culminates in a shaving foam fight on the Monday morning in quad of St Salvator's College.
The "cursed" cobblestone initials outside St Salvators College chapel.


Situated around the town of St Andrewsmarker are cobblestone markings denoting where Protestant martyrs were burnt at the stake. To students, the most notable of these is the cobblestone initials "PH" located outside the main gate of St Salvator's College. These cobblestones denote where Patrick Hamilton was martyred in 1528. According to student tradition, stepping on the "PH" will cause a student to become cursed, with the effect that the offender will fail his or her degree and so students are known to jump over the cobblestones when passing. Aside from the May Dip, an older tradition is that the remedy for this is to walk three times round the post at the end of the pier. Other, less superstitious, students pointedly do step on it to prove the tradition incorrect.

May Dip

The May Dip is a student tradition held annually at dawn on May Day. Students stay awake until dawn, at which time they collectively run into the North Sea to the sound of madrigals sung by the University Madrigal Group. The May Dip is also traditionally the only way of removing the curse inflicted by stepping on the PH cobbles. If a student is to step on the stones he/she can be forgiven if on the dawn of the first of May, they run into the North Sea.

Governance and administration

The "Gateway" building, built in 2000 and now used for the University's Management department

As with the other Ancient universities of Scotland, governance is determined by the Universities Act 1858. This Act created three bodies: the General Council, University Court and Academic Senate (Senatus Academicus).

General Council

The General Council is a standing advisory body of all the graduates, academics and former academics of the University. It meets twice a year and appoints a Business Committee to transact business between these meetings. Its most important functions are to appoint two Assessors to the University Court and elect the University Chancellor.

University Court

The University Court is the body responsible for administrative and financial matters, and is in effect the governing body of the University. It is chaired by the Rector, who is elected by all the matriculated students of the University. Members are appointed by the General Council, Academic Senate and Fife Councilmarker. The President of the Students' Representative Council and Director of Representation are ex officio members of the Court. Several lay members are also co-opted and must include a fixed number of alumni of the University.

Senatus Academicus

The Academic Senate (Latin Senatus Academicus) is the supreme academic body for the University. Its members include all of the Professors of the University, certain senior Readers, a number of Senior Lecturers and Lecturers and three elected student Senate Representatives - one from the Arts / Divinity faculty, one from the Science / Medicine faculty and one postgraduate student. It is responsible for authorising degree programmes and issuing all degrees to graduates. Another function of the Senate is to discipline students. The President of the Senate is the University Principal.


St Andrews University Classics Building
The University is divided into four academic Faculties: Each is governed by a Faculty Council and administered by a Dean. Students apply to become members of a particular faculty, as opposed to any particular school or department.

Number of students by faculty

Academic Year 2005/2006 [1]:

Faculty Undergraduate Postgraduate
Arts 3,582 604
Divinity 48 50
Medicine 419 7
Science 1,731 367
Total 5,780 1,028


Department of Social Anthropology at St Andrews

Office of the Principal

The Principal is the chief executive of the University and is assisted in that role by several key officers.

The current composition of the Office of the Principal is:
  • Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Dr Louise Richardson
  • Deputy Principal and Vice-Principal (Research): Professor Christopher Hawkesworth FRS
  • Master of the United College: Professor Neville Richardson
  • Vice-Principal (Governance and Planning): Professor Ronald Piper
  • Vice-Principal (Learning and Teaching): Professor Pat Willmer
  • Vice-Principal (External Relations): Mr Stephen Magee
  • Proctor and Provost of St Leonard's College: Professor Peter Clark
  • Quaestor and Factor: Derek Watson

Deans of the Faculties

The Deans are academics appointed by the Master of the United College to oversee the day to day runnings of each faculty. They were once elected by their constituents but this was changed to appointment in 2005

The current Deans are:
  • Dean of the Faculty of Arts: Professor Lorna Milne
  • Dean of the Faculty of Divinity: Professor James Davila
  • Dean of the Faculty of Medicine: Professor R. Hugh MacDougall
  • Dean of the Faculty of Science: Professor Alyson Tobin

Student Residence Halls

St Andrews is characterised amongst Scottish Universities as having a significant number of students in University operated accommodation. Approximately half of the overall student population live 'in Hall'. All are now co-educational and non-smoking. Residences include:

Former residences

In addition to the residences listed above, the University formerly also had the following residences:

  • Hamilton Hall
  • Hepburn Hall - (although Hepburn remains a university residence under lease)
  • Southgait Hall
  • Kinnessburn Hall
  • David Russell Hall
  • Bishops Hall (now part of St Leonards School)
and West Park, which was pulled down to make way for the Students' Union building, built in the 1970s.

The University guarantees every student a place of accommodation. For this reason, when 400 extra students joined for the 2008/09 academic year, the university had to rent out flats in the previously sold Hepburn Hall to accommodate the rise in student numbers.

Notable alumni

St Salvator's Quadrangle during the Raisin Weekend foam fight
See also :Category:Alumni of the University of St Andrews

Arts & Media

Philosophers, Academia & Education

Business & Law

Politics & Public Affairs

Religion, Church & Theology




Famous Rectors

In Scotland, the position of Rector exists in the four ancient universities (St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh) - as well as in the University of Dundee. The post (officially Lord Rector, but by normal use Rector alone) was made an integral part of these universities by the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889. The Rector of the University of St Andrews chairs meetings of the University Court, the governing body of the university, and is elected at regular intervals by the matriculated student body

Links with the United States

The University has a strong link with the United Statesmarker. Significant numbers of students matriculate from the United States. Many important American figures (and emigrants to the United States) from Scotland have been associated with the university:

Signatories of the Declaration of Independence

Also, three of the signatories of the 1776 American Declaration of Independence attended or received degrees from St Andrews, including:

  • James Wilson, born at Carskerdo, near Cuparmarker (signer from the state of Pennsylvania)
Wilson attended three Scottish Universities including St Andrews, but did not earn a degree from any of them. Carrying important letters of introduction, Wilson arrived in America in 1765. He became a Latin tutor at Philadelphia College (now the University of Pennsylvaniamarker), and successfully petitioned that institution to grant him an honorary Master of Arts.

Witherspoon had an impressive list of credentials and was a significant public figure. He was president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton Universitymarker). Witherspoon was largely responsible for converting the institution into a success by employing Scottish educational standards. He received his Master of Arts, Bachelor of Divinity, and was made a Doctor of Divinity at the University of St Andrews.

  • Benjamin Franklin, born Boston, Massachusetts (signer from the state of Pennsylvania)
In 1759 Franklin received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of St Andrews.

Exchange Programmes

Emory Universitymarker in Atlanta runs an exchange programme with St Andrews called the Bobby Jones Scholars programme, which allows for recent graduates of both universities to study at the other university. In addition, the School of Physics and Astronomy maintains a postgraduate exchange with The Georgia Institute of Technologymarker. Both of these exchanges are funded by the Robert T. Jones Memorial Trust. The Robert Lincoln McNeil Scholarship is run in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvaniamarker. One of the largest exchanges is with the University of California, and students are routinely sent to Berkeleymarker, UCLAmarker, and UCSDmarker. The School of International Relations and the School of Modern Languages also oversee an undergraduate student exchange with Sciences Po in Paris.

University of St Andrews

Any alumnus, student or staff member can wear a scarf of dark blue, sky blue and white:

University of St Andrews

St Mary's College

Bute Medical School

St Leonard's College

Student organisations

Students' Association

The University of St Andrews Students' Association is the organisation which represents the student body of the University of St Andrews.The Association was instituted in 1983 under the Constitution and Laws of the University of St Andrews Students’ Association. It comprises the Students' Representative Council (SRC), established in 1885 and legally defined under the Universities Act 1889, and the Students' Union (which was itself a merger of the Students' Union and the Women's Union). The Students' Association is registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator as charity SCO19883

The Students' Association Building (colloquially known as the Union) is located on St Mary's Place, St Andrewsmarker. External bodies operating in the building include a Blackwells bookshop and the University's Student Support Services. The Students' Association is affiliated to, and indeed a founding member of, the Coalition of Higher Education Students in Scotland (CHESS) and is not a member of the National Union of Students.

The Students' Association receives a maintenance grant from the University, which stood at £159,000 GBP for the academic year 2004-2005.

The Students' Association is headed up by four sabbatical officers. Currently they are Andrew Keenan (Association President), Georgina Rannard (Director of Representation), Phil Pass (Director of Events and Services) and Matthew Guest (Director of Student Development and Activities).


Students at the university form various voluntary societies for academic, social, artistic, political, religious and other purposes. Many of these are affiliated with the Students' Association, such as the University of St Andrews Union Debating Society and the Just So Society which recently put on the controversial musical 'Jerry Springer: The Opera' which attracted both protesters and national press attention. Other groups are not affiliated to the University or the Students Association, and therefore not a part of the University structure. Notable independent student groups include the Global Investment Group, the International Politics Association and the Kate Kennedy Club.

The university's Music Society comprises many student-run musical groups, including the University's main symphony orchestra, wind band, and chorus. They also organise their own series of weekly lunchtime recitals. Musical groups at the university also include several choirs, among them the University's St Salvator's Chapel Choir, St Leonard's Chapel Choir, St Salvator's Chapel Chamber Choir as well as the student-run Madrigal Group.

Athletic Union

The University of St Andrews Athletic Union is the Student representative body for sport.


  • Newspapers:
    • The Saint is the longest-lived student newspaper, published fortnightly since 1997 and tracing its roots several decades further. It is fully independent of both the Student's Union and the University, which has led to some controversy about certain articles in the past. This independence is only matched by four other student newspapers in Britain - Felix at Imperial College Londonmarker, Cherwell in Oxfordmarker, Varsity in Cambridgemarker and The Inquirer at City University in Londonmarker
    • On 17 April 2006, the Vine magazine (supported by the Students' Association) was re-launched. The magazine claimed to generate discussion and thought throughout the student population of the town, and was printed at irregular intervals. Sales were poor, and the publication eventually closed down in 2007.
    • In 2007 the James Crichton Society was created to foster "academic inquiry and discussion". It produced a monthly journal but has since ceased to publish.
    • The Tribe "an off-beat art and lifestyle publication appealing to University of St Andrews students passionate about journalism and photography"

  • Academic Journals:
    • St. Andrews Psychology Review (S.P.R.) founded in 2008 in association with St. Andrews Psychology Department and the The St. Andrews Psychology Society (independently funded and not affiliated with The St. Andrews Student Union.) While it is the first Independent Academic Journal at The University St. Andrews it has a number of individuals who aren’t university staff or students as writers and staff.
    • Aporia (The Philosophy Society Journal) A biannual journal founded in 2007. The articles featured are predominantly be papers written on philosophical topics by St. Andrews' students.

  • Radio:
    • On 28 February 2005, a number of St Andrews students launched the University's first FM station broadcasting over 5 km on the 87.7 MHz frequency. The station was granted a Restricted Service Licence by Ofcommarker, which allowed for six hours of broadcast a day. Subsequent periods of broadcast followed until the end of 2007, when it was decided to re-brand Star FM as STAR or St Andrews Radio and broadcast solely as an Internet station online for twenty-four hours a day. The radio station is now a sub-committee of the Students' Association under the name of the Broadcasting Committee. It broadcasts 24/7 during University term time. The station can be found at

  • Web:
    • An independent website has been set up by students at the University for topical discussion and an unbiased review of the town and University. This can be found at
    • On 15 August 2009, a group of independent St Andrews students launched a detailed and interactive unofficial 'survival guide' for incoming undergraduates, providing information on the town and university life. The guide features a Twitter feed to interact with new students and a newsletter that encourages dialogue with current students. The guide is at

See also



  • University of St Andrews - Facts and Figures
  • R.G. Cant The University of St Andrews, A Short History (Oliver and Boyd Ltd. 1946)

External links

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