St Andrews University traces its roots all the way back to 1410, when a society of higher learning was established in the area by a group of clergymen, promising lectures in law, philosophy, divinity and logic. The Avignon Pope Benedict XIII granted the school university status by sending a series of papal bulls, and King James I of Scotland rubber-stamped the charter in 1432. King James V confirmed the privileges of the university 100 years later.
Halfway through the 16th century, St Andrews had absorbed three colleges – St Salvator’s, St Leonard’s, and St Mary’s. St Salvator’s and St Leonard’s later joined forces to make the United College, which exists to this day.
Significant advances were made in the 1800s thanks to developments in teaching and research of the arts, divinity, and biological and physical sciences. At the turn of the century the university was complemented by a new academic centre in Dundee, gaining impressive feats in medical and applied science in the process. That association lasted until 1967, when the University of Dundee was formed.
The 1980s saw St Andrews introduce a large amount of investment in order to improve its research abilities, a move that has helped the university to improve its reputation over the years and become the international centre of research excellence that stands before us today.
In 2009 it became the first Scottish ancient to make a woman its Principal, in the form of Professor Louise Richardson from the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard. St Andrews has since marked 600 years of service.
It claimed 14th position in the UK, in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings for 2018, and 110th place in the world. The university also has a Gold Teaching Excellence Framework to its name.
Research has also demonstrated that St Andrews churns out wealthy people! An independent report carried out by Skandia determined that it is the joint-fifth most prolific education provider of its kind in the country for producing self-made millionaires. A High Fliers study also reported that the university features in its top-five for the same achievement.
In 2017, St Andrews had the joint-second highest graduate employment rate of any UK university, tying with Warwick on 97.7% of graduates entering work or further study three-and-a-half years after graduating.
St Andrews was named as the UK’s top mainstream university for offering the best academic experience, in The National Student Survey 2017 (NSS). It was the ninth time in just 11 years that St Andrews had claimed top spot. A total of 94% of final year students who were surveyed gave the university maximum marks for the quality of teaching experience and learning. The survey focuses on academic support, teaching, management, learning resources, assessment, personal development and satisfaction.
Famous alumni include former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond, BBC News presenter Louise Minchin, BBC Sport presenter Hazel Irvine, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James Michener, and ex-Tottenham Hotspur captain Danny Blanchflower.
The university also boasts an enviable list of honorary graduates, such as US Presidential runner-up and former First Lady Hillary Clinton, iconic singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, James Bond star Sean Connery, and popular television host David Attenborough.