Admissions Policy

The University of St Andrews’ admissions policy is in place to ensure fairness for all applicants, regardless of background. 

The University is committed to reducing barriers to entry for students with the potential to succeed at St Andrews. We will allow all students to demonstrate their potential, regardless of social or economic background, whether this is related to their place of education, family background, or residence. We do this using relevant pre-entry information, clear entrance requirements and robust assessment methods, appropriate to each application cohort.

The policies and principles outlined within this document apply to all undergraduate and one year postgraduate programmes at St Andrews. The policy relating to postgraduate research positions can be found in the postgraduate research admissions policy. This admissions policy was approved on 11 August 2017, and supersedes all previous policies related to undergraduate and one year postgraduate programmes. Any questions relating to this policy can be addressed to the Director of Admissions.

Privacy statement

All personal information submitted as part of an application to study at the University will be used for the purposes of making a decision on whether an offer will be made, and for successful applicants to then manage their studies. For additional information, please see the Applicant Privacy Notice.

How and when to apply

Undergraduate applications

Depending on their fee status, applicants can apply to the university via UCAS, the Common Application or a Direct Application. All applications will be given equal consideration provided that they meet the deadlines for each application route.

UCAS – non Medicine applications

Applicants assessed as Home (Scotland/EU) or Rest of UK for fee purposes will be considered until the UCAS published deadline of 15 January.

Applicants assessed as Overseas for fee purposes will be considered until the published deadline of 30 June.

UCAS – Medicine applications

Applicants for Medicine who are assessed as Home (Scotland/EU) or Rest of UK for fee purposes will be considered until the UCAS published deadline of 15 October.  

Applicants for Medicine who are assessed as Overseas for fee purposes will be considered until the UCAS published deadline of 31 January.

Common Application

Only those applicants assessed as Overseas for fee purposes may apply via the Common Application.

Applications received via the Common Application will be considered until the published deadline of 1 May.

Applicants applying for Medicine via the Common Application will be considered until the published deadline of 31 January. 

Direct Applications

Applicants assessed as Overseas for fee purposes for whom St Andrews is the only university in the UK to which they are applying may use our Online Application Form.  The deadline for consideration of direct applications is 30 June.

Applicants for Medicine who are assessed as Overseas for fee purposes and are applying only to the University of St Andrews in the UK may apply using the online application form. The deadline for consideration of direct Medicine applications is 31 January.

Applications to one year postgraduate programmes

Applications for one year postgraduate programmes should be made through our application form.

Most one year postgraduate programmes commence in September of each academic year. There are no application deadlines for most one year postgraduate programmes and offers are given on a rolling basis. Certain programmes have specific application deadlines and these are detailed on our how to apply pages.

Incoming exchange and study abroad students

See the policy on the admission and registration of exchange and study abroad students webpage.  

How applications are assessed

Undergraduate applications

The responsibility for setting out minimum entrance requirements and the broader criteria for assessing the strength of applications rests with Admissions and academic Schools. Satisfying these criteria is at the heart of the decision making process.

The responsibility for making decisions on applications rests with Admissions in coordination with individual academic Schools.

Basis for decisions

The University is looking for applicants with the academic potential and ability to thrive in a competitive academic environment.

All applications are initially assessed against the agreed academic selection criteria for the relevant programme.

Each individual programme is taught within one of the University’s four Faculties. Applicants will need to satisfy both the selection criteria for individual programmes, and the entrance requirements for the Faculty in which their programme is located. The selection criteria for individual programmes and the Faculty entrance requirements are available via the subject pages online.

Meeting a programme’s selection criteria and the minimum Faculty entrance requirements will not guarantee a place, as competition for places can be very high. When assessing applications, the University uses all the information submitted, including:

  • academic record, both grades achieved and predicted grades and marks
  • evidence supporting predicted grades
  • academic references
  • personal statement
  • contextual information
  • performance at interview, where appropriate
  • relevant work or other experience, where appropriate
  • any extenuating circumstances, where provided (see below)
  • external aptitude tests, where appropriate.

Applications are assessed on the quality of the academic achievement to date and future potential, relative to other applications for that programme, and within a specific cohort determined by fee status.

One year postgraduate programme applications

All applications for one year postgraduate programmes are assessed by the academic school to which an applicant has applied. All applicants will be expected to meet the entrance requirements and any additional selection criteria outlined on the website for the subject to which they are applying.

Meeting a programme’s selection criteria and the minimum entrance requirements will not guarantee an offer, as competition can be very high. When assessing applications, the University uses all the information submitted, including:

  • academic record
  • academic references
  • personal Statement and written work.

Incoming exchange and study abroad students

See the policy on the admission and registration of exchange and study abroad students webpage. 

Tuition fees and fee status assessment

The cost of tuition is determined by the applicant’s fee status, mode of attendance and degree programme. If the University considers an applicant’s fee status to be unclear from the information provided in the application, the applicant will be asked for further information. It is the applicant’s responsibility to provide any additional information required in a timely and accurate manner. Final decisions on applications cannot be made until the fee status is set. Any incorrect or incomplete information may delay decision making and may affect an applicant’s opportunity for securing a place. More detailed information is available in our Fee Status Policy.

Prior learning

The University recognises prior learning that has taken place elsewhere after formal assessment, and this may be used to facilitate admission to a degree programme and to provide advanced standing on a named degree programme. Our Recognition of Prior Learning (PDF, 357 KB) provides a framework for this activity.

Contextual data

The University considers additional information to provide a more complete picture of the educational and social circumstances that underpin students’ applications and performance in our decision-making processes. Details of how these data are used is available in our statement on the use of contextual data.

Non-standard educational route

Whilst there is a requirement to demonstrate that the academic entry requirements as specified for the programme have been met, we recognise that standard selection measures and procedures alone may not enable the applicant to demonstrate their suitability fully for their chosen programme.

Where appropriate, we will request and consider alternative evidence.

Applicants who will be 16 at the point of entry to the University

Scots Law recognises that despite having full legal capacity at 16, young people aged 16 can be vulnerable in certain situations. The University aims to ensure that young people who will be 16 at the point of enrolling are clear what services we can, and cannot, provide for this age-group.

As such, before the University will enrol any such young student to study we ask that they and their parent/guardian understand and acknowledge the issues that may arise as a consequence. Full details are included in our Young Student Information Sheet. These terms are in addition to our other University Policies and Procedures, which all our students are expected to comply with.

Applicants with disabilities

Where applicants have stated a disability on their application form, this information is passed to the University’s Disabilities Team to make an initial assessment of the declared information and follow up where appropriate. The disability assessment is done independently from the decision-making process.

The University will make reasonable adjustments in line with its legal duties to meet the needs of applicants with disabilities. However we may not be able to make an offer to candidates in some circumstances.

Disclosure of criminal convictions

Applicants are required to report criminal involvement when applying to the University. The University aims to maintain a safe environment for all students and must take appropriate steps to protect students, staff and other members of the University. For this reason, the University will collect and record information on any offences committed by a student, or any ongoing investigations, unless these convictions are defined as ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

Further information on the disclosure of criminal convictions

Applications from students who have declared a criminal conviction are subject to the same academic selection process as all applications, and will be assessed using the admissions process outlined in this policy. The declaration of a conviction will be followed up independently from the application process by Director of Student Services. The University reserves the right to make any decisions it considers appropriate in the light of all the information provided. These may range from ascertaining appropriate levels of support to withdrawal of an offer or place.

Please note that disclosure obligations are different for applicants for our Medical Degree programmes. 

Deferred applications

Undergraduate applications

The University will accept applications for deferred entry as outlined below. Deferred entry refers to applicants who delay their entry into the following admissions cycle.  

Please note that applications for deferred entry to the School of Medicine are not normally considered. Any questions regarding deferred entry to Medicine should be directed to medical.admissions@st-andrews.ac.uk.

It is the University’s preferred position that applicants apply in the academic cycle immediately prior to their anticipated start at the University. For example, applicants intending to start their studies in September 2018 would apply during the academic cycle that opens on 1 August 2017. Applicants are strongly encouraged to follow this guidance. Applicants intending to take a gap year are recommended to apply during that gap year. This allows applicants to demonstrate as part of their application how their activities during the gap year are relevant to the subject(s) to which they are applying. This information will be taken into account as part of the decision-making process.

Applicants who still choose to apply for deferred entry for the subsequent academic year should ensure that their application includes information on why they wish to defer; what they will be doing that is relevant to the subject(s) to which they are applying during the year before entry; and how such activities will benefit the strength of their application. This information should be included as part of the applicant’s personal statement. The application should also include information highlighting why they are applying for deferred entry, rather than submitting an application during their gap year.

Applicants who wish to request deferred entry after receiving an offer should put their request in writing to myapplication@st-andrews.ac.uk as early as possible. In such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the applicant to provide as much detail as possible to explain their request. All such requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis by a Senior Leadership panel consisting of Directors of Admissions and the relevant Faculty Pro- Dean. It is important to note that there is no guarantee that such a request will be granted, and applicants may be required to withdraw their application and re-apply in the in the cycle that is relevant for their year of entry. Granting of deferred entry may have implications for an applicant’s offer of accommodation and/or any University scholarships awarded. Applicants should also be aware that tuition fees are updated annually, and so deferring an application is expected to impact upon the cost of tuition. Applicants should consult the policies on Scholarships and Accommodation for further information.  

An applicant may only request a deferred entry for entry into the following admissions cycle. Any further requests for deferral will be considered against the University’s extenuating circumstances policy outlined below.

Applicants who meet the conditions of an offer who are subsequently required to undertake national military service will have their offers upheld until conclusion of their service. Applicants should ensure that they contact myapplication@st-andrews.ac.uk as soon as theyare aware of any commitments to such military service and provide supporting documentation.

Accepting and securing a deferred offer – undergraduate

Applicants assessed as Overseas for fee purposes holding an unconditional offer who have been granted deferred entry will be required to make a pre-payment before their deferred entry will be confirmed. The pre-payment will be deducted from the total cost of the first year tuition fee. Failure to submit the pre-payment will be taken as an indication that the applicant no longer wishes to take up the offer of a place to study at St Andrews.

Information on pre-payments

One year postgraduate programme applications

It is not usually possible to defer an offer for a one year postgraduate programme. Applicants may request deferment until the following academic year by contacting the academic school directly with their request, stating the reasons for deferring.

Accepting and securing a deferred offer – one year postgraduate programmes

Some applicants for one year postgraduate programmes will be required to make a pre-payment to accept and secure a place to study. The offer letter an applicant receives will indicate if this is required. While the decision on whether or not to grant a request for deferred entry is taken by the relevant academic school, any such offer for deferred entry will only be confirmed if the applicant has made any pre-payments as required in the offer letter.

Information on pre-payments

Incoming exchange and study abroad students

See the policy on the admission and registration of exchange and study abroad students webpage. 

Applicants with extenuating circumstances

Undergraduate applications

The University aims to ensure that all applicants have an equal chance to prove their academic potential when applying to their chosen programme.

We accept that in some cases there may be circumstances which significantly impact upon an applicant’s ability to perform to their potential. Such circumstances could include – but are not limited to – an ongoing acute or chronic medical condition; a recent family bereavement or serious illness; ongoing significant caring responsibilities; or other disruptions to educational teaching at a school or college outside of the applicant’s control.

We expect that in the first instance applicants with extenuating circumstances will inform their examination board of their situation. This includes both those applicants with long-term extenuating circumstances and those with short-term circumstances that may have impacted unexpectedly upon examination performance.

At any point within the application cycle, applicants may submit information on extenuating circumstances to the University as part of their application by emailing myapplication@st-andrews.ac.uk. It is important that an applicant includes as much information as possible relating to their particular circumstance, including, where appropriate, submissions from medical or educational professionals. The applicant must also clearly indicate whether the examination board has been informed of the situation, and what action may have been taken as a result, including any appeals that may have been made and any further details the applicant considers to be relevant. If this information is not included, the University will assume that the examination board has been informed, and that the applicant’s academic achievements reflect this. In some circumstances we may contact applicants or referees.

The University will not normally offer applicants a place if they do not meet the stated entrance requirements for their programme. Each case of extenuating circumstances will be considered on a case-by-case basis, according to the information provided by the applicant by a Senior Leadership panel consisting of Directors of Admissions and the relevant Faculty Pro- Dean.

Applicants to study Medicine who have extenuating circumstances should contact the School of Medicine for advice as early as possible by emailing medical.admissions@st-andrews.ac.uk

One year postgraduate programme applications

Applicants for one year postgraduate programmes should submit any evidence of extenuating circumstances to the academic school as part of their application. The University will not normally offer applicants a place if they do not meet the stated entrance requirements.

Fraudulent or plagiarised applications and non-academic misconduct

The University will not admit students based on fraudulent or plagiarised applications or documents, and will investigate any student found to have submitted any fraudulent material as part of their application, even when this information comes to light after an offer has been made or a student has matriculated. 

Any cases of non-academic misconduct as defined in the policy will be addressed through the University’s Non-academic Misconduct Policy. The University will take appropriate action up to and including the withdrawal of an offer or place.

Communication of decision

Following consideration of their application, applicants will receive one of the following decisions:

  • An unconditional offer – this means that the applicant has met all of the entrance requirements and selection criteria for the programme.
  • A conditional offer – the University wishes to make the applicant an offer provided that certain conditions (for example, future examinations) meet a certain standard.
  • A rejection – the applicant has not met the entrance requirements or selection criteria for the programme to which they applied.

Accepting the offer and terms of contract

The formal offer of a place at the University sets out any conditions that must be met to have this place confirmed, and will ask if the applicant wishes to accept the offer. It is important that applicants identify any issues prior to accepting an offer, as material changes in circumstances (such as fee status) may lead to the offer being withdrawn.

Confirming conditions of the offer

Where an applicant holding a conditional offer meets the terms of that offer they are automatically confirmed as having an unconditional place to study at the University. The University is under no obligation to honour an offer to applicants that have not met the conditions of their offer.

Requests for changes to Programme

Undergraduate

Applicants in receipt of an offer who wish to change their programme of study should be aware that such a request materially impacts upon the status of their offer. The University is under no obligation to grant such a request.

Any applicant considering such a change should therefore consider carefully their reasons for doing so. Each request will be considered on a case-by-case basis by a Senior Leadership panel consisting of Directors of Admissions and the relevant Faculty Pro- Deans. However, in doing so the University will follow the decision-making process outlined above. This could impact on the competitiveness of the application, particularly if the requested programme is significantly different from that on which an offer has been made. It is possible that the applicant will be required to re-apply in the following academic cycle.

Applicants should also note that students are not permitted to change programme during their first year of study.

Applicants assessed as Home (Scotland/EU) or Rest of UK for fee purposes applying via UCAS

Applicants are required to submit any requests to change programme to myapplication@st-andews.ac.uk before 15 January in their year of entry. Requests received after 15 January will not be considered.

The School of Medicine will not consider requests for a change of programme from applicants who have applied to another subject.

Applicants assessed as overseas for fee purposes applying via UCAS

Applicants are required to submit any requests to change programme to myapplication@st-andews.ac.uk before 30 June in their year of entry. Requests received after 30 June will not be considered.

Applicants to study Medicine who are assessed as Overseas for fee purposes may request to change from BSc Hons Medicine to the Scottish-Canadian Medical Programme (or vice versa) if all the conditions of the new programme are met. This can be done at any point during the admissions cycle, but the request must be made before an offer has been made.

Applicants assessed as overseas for fee purposes applying via the Common Application or the Direct Application Form

Applicants are required to submit any requests to change programme to myapplication@st-andews.ac.uk before 30 June in their year of entry. Requests received after 30 June will not be considered.

Applicants to study Medicine who are assessed as Overseas for fee purposes may request to change from BSc Hons Medicine to the Scottish-Canadian Medical Programme (or vice versa) if all the conditions of the new programme are met. This can be done at any point during the admissions cycle, but the request must be made before an offer has been made.

One year postgraduate programmes

Applicants wishing to change their programme to one offered by a different academic school will need to withdraw their existing application and submit a new one. Applicants wishing to change to another programme within the academic school to which they have applied should contact that School directly to ascertain the possibility of changing their programme.

Feedback on admissions decisions

Undergraduate applications

The University is committed to providing feedback on an application if requested. It should be noted that the University is a highly competitive institution, and each year many applicants who apply having either met or exceeded the minimum entrance requirements, or who are predicted to do so, will not receive an offer.

Applicants who have not been made an offer may request initial feedback by writing to myapplication@st-andews.ac.uk within 14 days of being notified of the outcome of their application.

If such applicants wish to request further feedback on the rejection of their application they should submit their request to myapplication@st-andrews.ac.uk between 1 May and 15 July. The University will provide a response to such requests within 14 working days of receipt. Please note that requests for further feedback that are received outside of these dates will not be accepted.

The University is only able to provide feedback to the applicant, except where written consent has been previously given to allow us to communicate throughout the application process with a nominated third party.

Part-time undergraduate applications

The University will provide feedback to part-time undergraduate applicants up to 21 working days of being notified of the outcome of their application.

One year postgraduate programme applications

An applicant for a one year postgraduate programme who is rejected will receive a letter detailing the University’s decision. Applicants can apply for further feedback by writing to pgt.applications@st-andrews.ac.uk within 14 days of being notified of the outcome of their application. The University aims to respond to such requests within 14 days of receipt.

Incoming exchange and study abroad students

See the policy on the admission and registration of exchange and study abroad students webpage. 

Review of decisions and complaints

While the University will not accept appeals against the academic decision made on each application, any evidence of a material procedural error or irregularity taking place during the decision-making process will be handled according to the University’s Complaints Handling Procedure.

Applicants who wish to make a formal complaint (defined as a specific concern in connection with procedural error, irregularity or mal-administration relating to the admissions procedures or policies) should address their complaint to the Director of Admissions in the first instance and the complaint will be handled according to the framework laid out in the University Complaints Handling Procedure.


Other relevant documents

The University of St Andrews is committed to fair, transparent and consistent admissions practices and is supported by other relevant documents such as: