University of St. Andrews

College review by Cathy Watts, guest blogger

If you like a university steeped in tradition and history, the University of St. Andrews in Scotland has it in spades.  In 2013 the school is celebrating its 600-year anniversary.  Located in a small coastal town on the eastern side of Scotland where you can find the remains of a castle and a 14th century church, it is an idyllic college setting.

St. Andrews is a world-class university with an international student body.  Americans make up about 15% of the class.  The course of study is generally four years with schools in the arts, divinity, medicine and science.  The academic program differs from the US with first year coursework consisting solely of modules in three different subjects.  You have the flexibility to change subjects in selecting your three modules for the second year.  At the end of your second year, you choose one or two subjects to focus on in your third and fourth years.   International relations is a popular major.

[lightbox link=”” thumb=”×225.jpg” width=”300″ align=”left” title=”CBM- University of St Andrews – 6″ frame=”true” icon=”image”]First and second year classes are taught in lectures with senior faculty, augmented with small tutorial groups.  Students we spoke with were quite impressed with the accessibility of faculty and level of instruction in both the lectures and tutorials.   Students are expected to be self-motivated and perform a significant amount of research on their own.

All first year students are guaranteed housing and there are many flats convenient to campus for students who wish to live off campus in subsequent years.  The dorm rooms were more spacious and common rooms nicer than most US dorms my daughter had seen.  Singles are readily available in some halls as well as the option to “self cater” (cook for yourself in suite kitchens).  Dining halls are located within the larger dorms and the students reported that the food was pretty good. There is no Greek life but other opportunities for community are abundant.  There are many sports clubs and other student clubs as well as an active dorm social calendar.  University sports are more recreational and social than at US schools, offering moderately gifted athletes an opportunity to be involved with a reasonable time commitment.  Wednesday afternoons are free so that clubs and teams can meet and often they go out to the pubs afterward (drinking age in Scotland is 18).

Many first year students request to be “adopted” by an academic family in which they are paired with third year students with whom they socialize.  Dorms and clubs also host formal dances.

St Andrews students wear red robes for some campus events.  These students are about to lead a campus tour.

St Andrews students wear red robes for some campus events. These students are about to lead a campus tour.

We looked into the weather in Scotland and found that the east coast doesn’t get as much rain as is commonly believed.  While it may snow several times a year, the winter temperatures are quite moderate.

The town of St. Andrews has a distinctively European feel. Even though it is a small town, the streets are busy with students, locals and tourists.  There are many local shops, restaurants and coffee shops to satisfy the needs of international students and everything is within walking distance.  The country’s capital, Edinburgh, is easily accessible by train or bus for a reasonable price.  Edinburgh has H&M, GAP, TopShop, KFC, McDonald’s, and many other American standards, as well as an international airport allowing for cheap and easy trips to many European cities. London is about 5 hours from St. Andrews by train.


Tuition for 2013 is approximately $25,000 for international students in faculties of arts, divinity and science, and approximately $38,000 in the faculty of medicine.  Room and the dining option amount to approximately $8,000.  There are a small number of scholarships for international students and loans are available through the Direct Loan Program.


St. Andrews has non-binding, rolling admissions.  You can expect to have a decision by email within a month of applying.  If you are applying to any other UK universities, you must apply through UCAS (  If St. Andrews is the only UK school to which you are applying, you can apply with the Common App or by direct application.  UK universities are interested in your intended course of study and how their university fits your aspirations and this should be well considered in drafting your personal statement.  It is my impression that they are more focused on scores, GPA and aspirations than high school extracurriculars and personality.

The university hosts a number of “visiting days” for prospective students, for which you can register on their website.  We arranged to be there on a visiting day in mid-October, 2013.  It included a well-organized schedule of events including student led tours of the campus, student housing, the sports facility; general information sessions and department specific info sessions.  University staff and students were available throughout the day to discuss study abroad and career opportunities, sports, housing, financial aid, etc.

University of St. Andrews

College Gate,

St Andrews,

Fife KY16 9AJ,

Scotland, United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0)1334 476161

St Andrews University
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