Admissions policy 2016-2017

The University of St Andrews’ Admissions Policy is in place to ensure we offer a fair and transparent admissions process to all applicants, regardless of background. 

The University is committed to reducing and eliminating barriers to entry for students with the potential to succeed at St Andrews.  We seek to ensure that no student with the potential to do well is disadvantaged by social and economic disadvantage, whether this is related to their place of education, family background or residence, and we do this using relevant pre-entry information, clear entrance requirements and robust assessment methods, appropriate to each application cohort.

How and when to apply

Undergraduate students


The University admits applicants through the UCAS framework, giving equal consideration to all UK and EU applicants whose applications are received by UCAS by the published deadline of 15 January.

International applicants applying through UCAS will be considered until the published deadline of 30 June.

Common Application

The University accepts applications from only International applicants, through the Common Application and will consider all applications received by the published deadline of 1 May.

Direct Applications

International applicants who are applying only to the University of St Andrews in the UK may apply using our online application form. The deadline for consideration of direct applications is 30 June.

Postgraduate students

Applications for postgraduate programmes at St Andrews should be made through our online application form

Most our taught postgraduate programmes commence in September of each academic year. There are no application deadlines for most 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.

For most our research programmes, there are no deadlines on applying however a few Schools have specific application and funding timescales, which are detailed on our how to apply pages.

Decisions and selection

Basis for decisions

We are 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 that programme.

After this, applications are assessed on the quality of academic achievements to date and future potential, relative to other applications for that programme. During this process the University uses all information available to us, 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

Academic judgement

Academic judgement and criteria setting, which is carried out by Academic Schools, is at the heart of the selection and decision making processes.

Entrance criteria

In addition to Subject and Faculty Entrance criteria, the selection criteria for individual programmes are available via the subject pages and in our prospectus. Meeting the minimum requirements outlined in the selection criteria alone will not guarantee a place, as competition for places is very high. 

Information for applicants

Tuition fees and fee status assessment

The level of tuition fee charged is based on 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 the opportunity for securing a place. More detailed information is available in our fee status policy.

Prior learning

The University of St Andrews recognises prior learning that has taken place elsewhere after formal assessment, and that 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)  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 course have been met, we recognise that standard selection measures and procedures alone may not enable the applicant to fully demonstrate their suitability for the chosen course.

Where appropriate, we will request and consider alternative evidence.

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

Scots Law recognises that despite having full legal capacity at 16, young people aged 16 can be vulnerable in certain situations.  We want 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 young student to study we ask that they and their parent/guardian understand and acknowledge the issues that may arise.  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 our Disabilities Team, independently from the decision-making process, to make an initial assessment and follow up where appropriate. Specific support arrangements will be considered by the Disabilities Team out with the application process, who may contact applicants to discuss specific requirements.

The University will make all reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of applicants with disabilities, however the University may not be able to make an offer to candidates in some circumstances.

Applicants who disclose 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 our normal admissions practices and policies. The declaration of a conviction will be followed up independently from the application process by Director of Student Services to ascertain appropriate levels of support required.  The University reserves the right to make such decisions as it considers appropriate in the light of all the information provided. Please note that disclosure obligations are different for applicants for our Medical Science programmes. 

Applicants with mitigating or extenuating circumstances

The University of St Andrews will not normally offer applicants a place if they have not attained or are not predicted to attain the minimum entry requirements. The only exception to this may be in the case of mitigating or extenuating circumstances not already taken into consideration by an examination boards.

Applicants who submit a fraudulent or plagiarised application

The University of St Andrews will not admit students based on fraudulent or plagiarised applications or documents, and the University will investigate any student found to have submitted any fraudulent material as part of their application, even when this information comes to light after a student has matriculated.  The University will take appropriate action up to and including the withdrawal of an offer of a place.

Accepting our offer and terms of contract

Your formal offer of a place at the University of St Andrews will set out any conditions you need to meet to have your place confirmed and will ask whether you wish to accept the offer of a place made to you.  It is important that you identify any issues prior to accepting your offer as material changes in circumstances, such as fee status, may lead to the offer being withdrawn.

Feedback on admissions decisions

If applicants wish to request additional feedback, they should do so within 14 days of receiving the decision and contact Admissions in writing, by email or letter. Feedback is provided within a reasonable time frame. Feedback does not constitute a reconsideration of an application or a challenge to the University’s decision on an application.

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

Review of decisions and complaints

The University will not review admissions decisions, unless a serious procedural error or irregularity has taken place.

Applicants who wish to make a formal complaint (defined as a specific concern in connection with any 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: