Education: A - Z of universities - St Andrews

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The Independent Online
Age: 558.

Address: In and around the university city of St Andrews - the home of golf - on the east coast of Scotland, in sheltered bay 45 miles north of Edinburgh.

Ambience: As the oldest university in Scotland, and the third oldest in the UK after Oxford and Cambridge, it is steeped in ancient buildings and customs. Sublime views of the sea. Traditions include students processing in red gowns along the pier, academic "families" (third- or fourth-year students acting as "parents" to first-years), Raisin Monday (when students give their academic parents a bottle of wine in return for a Latin receipt), and May morning dip in the North Sea. Students account for a third of city inhabitants.

Vital statistics: Small university with 5,500 students. Excellent reputation. Biggest medieval history department in Britain. Also provides full range of physical sciences, and has the largest optical telescope in the UK. Like Edinburgh, takes a lot of students from south of the border, although Scottish numbers have increased to almost half of undergraduates and more than half of postgraduates. Rated by independent schools, though university denies any bias.

Added value: A pounds 4.2m extension to the Gatty Marine Laboratory will pioneer research into whales, dolphins and seals. Nine bursaries awarded by the Royal and Ancient Club to promising golfers. All arts students are awarded an MA rather than a BA.

Easy to get into? For arts subjects you need four Bs at Highers or three Bs at A-level; for sciences, ABBB to BBCC at Highers or ABB to three Cs at A-level; for divinity, three Bs at Highers or three Cs at A-level.

Glittering alumni: Charles Miller Smith, chief executive of ICI; Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP; Sir James Black, Nobel prize-winner for medicine 1988; John Suchet, newscaster; Siobhan Redmond, actress; Hazel Irvine, sports commentator; Fay Weldon, writer; Madsen Pirie, director, Adam Smith Institute.

Transport links: Small city, so you can walk everywhere. Or ride a bike. Not good for hitching out of.

Who's the boss? Prof Struther Arnott, FRS, world leader in the structural studies of carbohydrates. Formerly worked at Purdue University in Indiana, USA.

Teaching: Has been rated excellent in eight areas, highly satisfactory in eight.

Research: Came 15th out of 101 in the research assessment exercise. Awarded tip-top 5* in psychology and 5 in applied mathematics, classics, divinity, history and philosophy.

Financial health: Was in the red to the tune of more than pounds 1m in 1995/96, but is in the black now.

Nightlife: Three bars in the Union. One is used every night, one for parties and there is one in the Union theatre. Megabop in the Union every Friday. University good for theatre and cabaret. Numerous balls, including several kilt-and-sporran jobs. Good pubs in town, including Ogstons and the Victoria. Student bands also play live in the Tudor and Aikmans Wine Bar.

Cheap to live in? University accommodation ranges from pounds 28 for self-catering to pounds 48 for en-suite room with food. Private rented accommodation is pounds 40, not including bills.

Buzzword: Mare (bad day)

Next week: Salford.