Access for Rural Communities

Access for Rural Communities (ARC) is a pioneering project aimed at supporting and enabling young learners on their journey into university. Working with S4 to S6 pupils, the ARC project provides a platform for pupils to explore opportunities in higher education in the following local areas:

  • Argyll and Bute
  • Highlands
  • Eilean Siar (Western Isles)
  • Shetland and Orkney.

ARC members will receive support and guidance throughout the university application process, aiming to give pupils the tools, know-how and confidence to stretch themselves and succeed in higher education.

Working in partnership across the University, secondary schools and local communities, ARC also aims to provide schools with a comprehensive list of resources which can be used to enhance the learning of pupils during the senior phase.

Who can apply

ARC especially encourages young people from 'non-traditional' backgrounds to consider university. If you are the first person in your family to go to university, come from a low income background, or reside and attend school in a rural area of Scotland, ARC can help.

If you are in S4 to S6 and attend one of the schools listed below, we would like to hear from you. Priority is reserved for those who meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You attend a school that does not send many pupils on to university.
  • You receive education maintenance allowance (EMA).
  • You will be the first in your family to attend university.
  • You have spent time in care.

If you don't attend one of the schools listed below, you could still take part. Please email to find out if you are eligible for the ARC project.


Argyll and Bute

  • Campbeltown Grammar School
  • Dunoon Grammar School
  • Hermitage Academy
  • Islay High School
  • Lochgilphead High School
  • Oban High School
  • Rothesay Academy
  • Tarbert Academy
  • Tiree High School
  • Tobermory High School

Eilean Siar (Western Isles)

  • Castlebay School
  • Sgoil Lionacleit
  • Sir E Scott School
  • The Nicolson Institute

The Highlands

  • Alness Academy
  • Ardnamurchan High School
  • Charleston Academy
  • Culloden Academy
  • Dingwall Academy
  • Dornoch Academy
  • Farr High School
  • Gairloch High School
  • Golspie High School
  • Glen Urquhart High School
  • Grantown Grammar School
  • Invergordon Academy
  • Inverness High School
  • Inverness Royal Academy
  • Kilchuimen Academy
  • Kingussie High School
  • Kinlochbervie High School
  • Kinlochleven High School
  • Lochaber High School
  • Millburn Academy
  • Mallaig High School
  • Nairn Academy
  • Plockton High School
  • Portree Academy
  • Tain Royal Academy
  • Thurso High School
  • Ullapool High
  • Wick High School

Orkney and Shetland

  • Anderson High School
  • Brae High School
  • Kirkwall Grammar School
  • Stromness Academy

How to apply

To register for the project, please complete the ARC registration form (Word, 82 KB) and return by email to, or by post to:

ARC Project
University of St Andrews
St Katharine’s West
16 The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AX

Loan boxes

Loan boxes are designed to provide schools with creative ideas and tools to enhance the learning of pupils during the senior phase.

ARC research

The aim of this research is to assess the effect of rurality on access to higher education in Scotland, in particular to the University of St Andrews. This research will:

  • gather evidence to gain a better understanding of the perception of access to higher education from these rural communities
  • propose some guiding principles to ensure that young people living in these rural communities have equal opportunities to attend highly competitive courses offered at Scottish institutions and in turn realise a positive destination
  • develop an index reflecting the level of access to higher education according to the degree of rurality. 

Please see the documents below for further information:

Access to Higher Education for Scottish Rural communities: an exploratory analysis

Facts explained: access to higher education for Scottish rural communities: an exploratory analysis