We are a small institution renowned for the quality and impact of both our research and our teaching. These activities are at the heart of what we do, and the fact that we connect them so strongly is fundamental to our global reputation. ‘World-leading St Andrews’ is both a distinction and a perpetual challenge and we must act strategically to deliver on the ambition that accompanies our continuing success. Our aim over the next five years is to build the number of areas in which we are unequivocally identified as world-leading. This will form the foundation on which we can deliver sustained achievement in a range of core subjects, and the multi-disciplinary work which will often be needed to take us to the next level of academic standing.

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The unique St Andrews experience derives not only from our historical and geographical location but also from our highly international community of staff and students and their quest for the advancement of knowledge. Enriching that experience means investing in our people and our environment. Nurturing the St Andrews experience will be part of our planned growth to 10,000 students by 2025, supporting a community of broadly 80% undergraduate and 20% postgraduate students. Such growth will require investment into an estate strategy across our four principal sites: the town centre, North Haugh, East Sands, and the Eden Campus. As we build and modernise space to accommodate planned growth, we will recognise the new styles of learning and working, and the role of digital technologies which lead to increased creativity, productivity, and collaboration. We will invest in a range of diverse facilities and technologies, and ‘smart working’.


Despite our relatively small size, we have the scale to make significant contributions to national priorities in areas such as the blue economy, advanced materials and photonics, health and the digital economy, and policy development. We recognise too the importance of investing in our ability to utilise information derived from data, where we are building notable expertise. Our great strength as a university also lies in our contributions to the humanities and to cultural understanding, where the work of our staff and our students has the capacity to shape values and ways of seeing across the world. We believe as abidingly in the importance to societies of – for example - philosophy, literature, history, and music as we do in the importance of the social, physical, and life sciences and of medicine. We also believe strongly in the interactions that are possible across all these subjects. They do not compete; they co-habit, collaborate, and on occasion cohere.


Many of our 19 academic Schools are already at the forefront of their disciplines; others will be encouraged to develop their focus and standing in areas where they have the potential to become world-leading. We will work with all Schools to grow the capacity and academic leadership that can shape the future of their subjects in St Andrews, and we will support choices that strategically strengthen Schools and their position in important exercises such as the Research Excellence Framework. Where they demonstrably speak to our identity, we will also encourage the development of new areas of research activity, study, and impact.


Beyond our core subjects, our academic community has identified capacity and willingness to engage in six priority areas for collaborative working across disciplines. These areas will enable us to create platforms for our research strengths in a changing world: Peace, Conflict and Security; Cultural Understanding; Evolution, Behaviour, and Environment; Materials for the Modern World; Health, Infectious Disease, and Wellbeing; and Sustainability


Our small-group, high-quality teaching rests on partnership and dialogue between teachers and students, making the education we offer at St Andrews unique and prized. It enables us to attract students and staff of exceptional ability, and encourages every individual to make their mark by being the best they can. We will continue to enrich our teaching, and will support innovations and technologies that reinforce quality.


We acknowledge, and indeed welcome, that the learning and teaching environment will not be static over the next ten years. As the spheres of education and work intersect dynamically across the world, institutions must be flexible in how they deliver teaching to an increasingly mobile workforce and within a growing context of lifelong education. We believe very strongly in the value of the ‘traditional’ degree. Alongside this, we will also develop different types of teaching enhanced by emergent technologies, both in St Andrews and on-line, that offer our own form of world-class experience to those learners at undergraduate and postgraduate level who have different needs.


The redevelopment of the Madras site in the town centre provides an outstanding opportunity to create and improve our set of physical spaces to encourage intellectual innovation at the frontiers of disciplines, and enhance our capacity for knowledge sharing and innovative teaching.


We recognise that a physical library and materially rich collections are vital for research and learning in St Andrews. Our plans for their development will also consider opportunities presented by digitisation and new technologies; this includes our commitment to making our research results as openly available as possible for the benefit of all.


A major philanthropic campaign, with our alumni at its heart, will underpin our ambitions as a world-leading institution planning for the next generation of students and academics. The campaign will contribute towards funding big ideas, scholarships, impactful research, buildings, and our endowment.


World-leading St Andrews will:

  • Be innovative in our approach to supporting teaching, research, outreach, and impact
  • Promote areas of world-leading research that provide international leadership, engage with big societal questions, have the highest level of integrity, and the potential to resonate externally
  • Intersect with Global St Andrews and Entrepreneurial St Andrews to bring through new areas for research and teaching where they demonstrate the capacity to add value at an outstanding level
  • Promote working across disciplines and interdisciplinarity in our priority areas
  • Invest in degree-level teaching so that it retains its high quality and is centred on research-led content, a positive learning environment, and direct engagement with our students
  • Look ahead to deliver teaching that also responds to changed needs in life-long learning, professional education, skills, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability


We will deliver this by:

  • Linking effectively with developments within Diverse St Andrews to grow leadership and develop talent
  • Adopting an estate strategy that takes up the opportunities created by the development of the Madras site and the Eden Campus, together with the refurbishment of buildings and facilities, to maximise attractive and flexible space across the whole of the University’s operations
  • Developing an approach to collections that maximises its support for our scholarship and engagement
  • Developing a digital strategy that enables the realisation of our ambitions through utilising opportunities presented by rapidly evolving technologies
  • Strategically investing in the individual and collaborative work of the University’s centres and institutes
  • Taking forward the development of interdisciplinary programmes at graduate level through the University’s Graduate School for Interdisciplinary Studies


The progress of World-leading St Andrews will be indicated by:

  • Sustained high standards and ambition within a high-quality environment
  • The proportion of significant roles in influential organisations
  • An increase in partnerships with organisations seeking expertise and graduates
  • The quality of the partners we form relationships with
  • The number of disciplines in which we are distinctive and globally recognised


Fundamental investment requirements:

  • Co-investment to enable the best research and translation work and to maximise impact, with the expectation that externally secured funding for our research should cover a substantial percentage of the full cost
  • Estate development to enable our community to do their best work
  • Development of interdisciplinary initiatives in line with our strategic objectives
  • Attracting and retaining people with the capacity to make a significant contribution to St Andrews

As the spheres of education and work intersect dynamically across the world, institutions must be flexible in how they deliver teaching to an increasingly mobile workforce and within a growing context of lifelong education.

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Diverse St Andrews

Diversity and inclusion should be at the heart of the St Andrews experience, and should inform all that we do. As a truly international and world-class university, our ambition is to be a beacon of inclusivity.