Skip to content

About

Facts and figures

Scotland's first university

Founded in the early 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world.

Teaching began in the community of St Andrews in 1410 and the University was formally constituted by the issue of a papal bull in 1413.

The University shield

The different elements of the University shield are representative of the insignia of the founders of the University.

The crescent moon represents Peter de Luna, the given name of Pope Benedict XIII who issued the bulls of foundation of the University in 1413.

The lion rampant is taken from the royal arms of Scotland and represents the royal authority of King James I (1406–1437) who was associated with the foundation.

The gold diamonds are taken from the personal arms of Henry Wardlaw, Bishop of St Andrews 1404–1440 who issued the original charter which incorporated the Studium Generale in 1411 or 1412.

The open book with the red page edges represents learning.

The blue and silver cross represents the saltire of Scotland.

Graduates

St Andrews has approximately 50,000 living graduates.

Among them former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and the novelist Fay Weldon.

Honorary graduates

In the last 90 years, the University has conferred around 1000 honorary degrees.

Notable recipients include Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, Alexander Fleming, Iris Murdoch, James Black, Elizabeth Blackadder, Tim Berners-Lee, and Hillary Clinton.

The most international of Scotland’s universities

We are the most international of Scotland’s universities and one of the most international in the UK with staff and students of over 120 nationalities.

Extra-curricular activities

There are over 140 student societies ranging from artistic and musical through to religious and cultural.

Sport is a valued aspect of university life - there are over 50 sports clubs and 100 competitive sports teams to choose from.

High student satisfaction

According to the National Student Survey 2016, students at the University of St Andrews are the most satisfied in the UK. Of final year students surveyed, 94% gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.

Student retention

The University has the best first year retention rates in Scotland.

Around 97% of our students successful continue in their studies at St Andrews; 1 % transfer to other universities, and less than 2% drop out of Higher Education altogether.

Teaching quality

The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2017 named St Andrews as UK University of the Year for Teaching Quality.

Research excellence

The 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) ranked the University of St Andrews top in Scotland and 14th in the UK for the quality of research publications across Science, the Arts, Divinity and Medicine.

Employment

In a 2014-2015 survey, 47.9% of graduates found full-time work, 7.8% found part-time work (55.7% found work in total) while 27.6% went on to further study.

Traditions

The University of St Andrews is home to many unique traditions.

The curse of Patrick Hamilton

The PH initials set into cobblestones outside the Sallies Quad mark the spot where Patrick Hamilton was burnt at the stake in 1582. According to tradition, any student who steps on the PH will be cursed to fail their degree.

May Dip

The only cure for Patrick Hamilton’s course is to participate in the annual May Dip. At sunrise on May Day students make their way down to East Sands and collectively run into the North Sea.

Academic families

A spontaneous tradition where third and fourth year students can adopt first year students as their “children” to act as mentors and introduce them to student life.

Raisin Monday

Every year hundreds of first year students, dressed in fancy dress by their academic parents, gather in St Salvator’s Quad for the annual Raisin Monday foam fight.