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In 2013, the University of St Andrews will celebrate its 600th birthday. It was the first university to be established in Scotland in 1413 and the third-oldest university in the English-speaking world after the Oxbridge duo down south.
Located in central Scotland, St Andrews is the birthplace of golf. It has six golf courses including the world’s oldest course (can you sense a theme here?) Despite its age, it’s actually a relatively small university with around 9,000 students. But in a town populated by 18,000 people, the University not only constitutes over half of the population, but is also the biggest employer in town.
A UK top five university across several university leagues and ranking tables, St Andrews scores highly for its teaching and research quality, student experience and a low dropout rate of just 2%. Entry requirements at the University of St Andrews are high and it prides itself on only attracting the “most academically potent students.” The University has four core faculties: Arts, Divinity, Medicine and Science. These can be broken down further into 19 schools and several research centres and institutes.
Aside from brains, students at the University of St Andrews have a bit of a reputation for being from the upper crust of society. In 2010 around 41% of the undergraduate intake was from private schools (the national average of private school intake at higher education institutes is around 12%). Prince William and Kate Middleton did attend the University of St Andrews after all.
But then so did First Scotland Minister Alex Salmond and Chris Hoy. In fact the University of St Andrews has a truly distinguished alumni and staff list, including author Fay Weldon, Nobel Prize winner Sir James Black, smallpox vaccination research pioneer, Edward Jenner, and many more.
Former Rectors of the University have included John Cleese, J. M. Barrie (author of Peter Pan) and Rudyard Kipling.
Picturesque is a word to describe St Andrews. Located on the sea front, the town overlooks a dramatic seascape and a gorgeous set of sandy beaches. Replete with castle ruins and medieval architecture, St Andrews is a pretty little town (we’ll emphasise the word little: it’s just over two miles end to end) and has plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs. In fact, it has more pubs per square mile than anywhere in Britain. Throbbing metropolis it isn’t, so if you’re hankering after urban thrills this probably isn’t the place to go to university.
The University of St Andrews is spread across the town. The modern library and many of the Academic schools are located in the centre of St Andrews, while the halls of residence and sports centre are situated at the North Haugh, on the edge of St Andrews. All in all the University dominates the town of St Andrews.
Don’t just expect historic ancient buildings at the University of St Andrews, it is constantly investing in new buildings and cutting-edge learning and teaching facilities. Recent developments include a complete refurbishment of the Main Library, construction of a new School of Medicine, additional student accommodation and the Biological Sciences Research Centre.
Most single, new undergraduates are guaranteed first-year accommodation in University-owned or managed properties. There are four self-catered undergraduate residences available and seven catered halls of residences.
Housing contracts are fixed for the full academic year (33 weeks excluding Christmas vacation for standard catered accommodation or 36 weeks including Christmas for self-catered accommodation) for all undergraduate entrants.
Accommodation fees for catered, single-occupancy rooms are between £142 and £191 per week; while twin-sharing, catered rooms are between £128 and £165 per week. Room prices for self-catered accommodation come in at between £71 and £146 a week.
Student Accommodation Services maintain a database of available private sector housing in St Andrews and its neighbouring areas. Average weekly rents are upwards of £80, depending on type of accommodation, location and proximity to the University and city centre.
Scottish and mainland EU students are not required to pay tuition fees, since the government covers payments through the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).
Rest of UK students (e.g. those residing in England, Northern Ireland and Wales) joining St Andrews in 2012-13 will be charged £9,000 in tuition fees. This fee is applicable to all full-time undergraduate degree programmes.
The University of St Andrews estimates that a student’s living expenses for a full academic year will be around £7,000. Of course, this is a very rough guide and will depend on accommodation costs and lifestyle. Some students will be expecting to get by on less, and some students will have more of a budget to play around with.
As the University of St Andrews will be charging RUK students the full £9,000 a year in tuition fees, they will be providing extra financial support for students from lower income backgrounds.
50 bursaries of up to £2,000 a year will be available for Scottish domiciled applicants with household income of less than £42,600. Other perks for Scottish students include the Fife Dux Scheme which awards £7,500 a year to any Fife pupil achieving the Dux Medal.
The University of St Andrews will also be awarding Undergraduate Scholarships for Academic Excellence to the top 100 academic achievers at the end of their Junior Honours Year.
Also new for 2012, is the University of St Andrews Entrance Bursary for students domiciled in England and with a residual income of less than £42,600. It will provide additional financial support to students, topping up existing loans and grants from the government.
The University of St Andrews Students’ Association runs the largest bar in St Andrews, The Main Bar, which serves up reasonably priced drinks and various entertainment events. Venue 1 is the place to go for Union club nights. Friday’s BOP nights at Venue 1 are a St Andrews institution. In the same building, the imaginatively named Venue 2 is the place to go for everyone from dub step to comedy nights.
St Andrews is utterly clubless. Nightlife is more focused around pubs and bars and student house parties. Don’t despair though, the bright lights of Dundee with its great nightlife is only a taxi ride away and the University of St Andrews tries to make up for this dearth of a clubbing scene with live music nights, big university balls, formal dinners and student theatre productions.
The Athletic Union manages over fifty sports clubs, ranging from the usual (such as football and rugby) to the arcane (Korfball and Shinty). The Sports Centre houses extensive indoor and outdoor facilities, with a separate set of fitness suites.
The Students’ Association sponsors 140-plus societies, covering art, culture, language, politics, religion and other student interests. You can also form your own society if your particular interest isn’t represented.
Media junkies can take up activities with the Star (student radio station), Stereoscope (photography magazine), The Saint (a student newspaper) and Bubble TV.
The academic year begins with the Orientation Week featuring multiple events organised by academic schools, university departments, halls of residence, and the Students’ Association. 2011 Freshers’ Week saw a massive foam party, a comedy night, music from Rob da Bank and Jose Gonzalez, the first BOP of the year and a traditional Ceilidh. Plenty to keep you entertained then.
The University of St Andrews’ Career Centre team provides current students and fresh graduates with an extensive list of careers information, resources and services.
These include help with career choices, finding job vacancies, work experience, further-education options, practice interviews and CV and application checking, networking and career-related events on campus.