The role of the Rector is to preside at meetings of the University Court — the highest governing body of the University. The Court exists to oversee the management of the University, with special emphasis on strategic leadership and accountability. The Principal leads the actual management of the University, but he or she is also accountable to the Court, which comprises senior staff and a majority of unpaid, external, independent 'lay' members, meeting about four times a year. Court is the place where many University issues are decided — budget allocations, financial policies, academic policies, estate development and capital projects, staff and student provisions.
Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by the students. In addition to being President of the University Court, the Rector also plays an informal, pastoral role for students. The Rector can open doors and help to release log-jams where the formals mechanisms for resolving issues appear to fail. A Rector with the time, sincerity and commitment to get to know the student body and engage with their issues, and the skills to influence effectively, can make a valuable contribution to the student experience, as well as to the life and reputation of the whole University.
More information on the history of the role of Rector can be found on the Students' Association website.
The current Rector is Catherine Stihler MEP. A St Andrews graduate and former Student President, Catherine has been a Member of the European Parliament for Scotland since 1999 and is currently the only female MEP representing Scotland. She also serves the European Parliament as Vice Chair of the committee responsible for consumer rights and the digital single market. She was appointed as the Rector in 2014 for a three year term.
The Rector's Assessor
The Rector's Assessor is a voluntary position, with the main role being to act as the link between the Rector and the student body, to aid and advise the Rector, and to sit on the University Court as a full member. The Assessor meets regularly with the Rector to advise on policy issues, discuss upcoming events and campaigns and ensure the Rector has a coordinated media and web presence in St Andrews. You can find out more about the Rector's Assessor and the Rector's Committee on the Students' Association website.