'I loved studying here'

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Catherine Gerrard, 21, has graduated from the University of St Andrews with a first-class honours degree in applied mathematics and has returned to work for a PhD

"I WORK at the university as a tour guide. It's not only tourists who want to be shown round this beautiful old university - we get quite a few academic conferences whose delegates want to see the place. Then there are the many alumni who return to see how things have changed - what new buildings have sprung up. I've done this ever since the start of the summer.

"I have worked every summer vacation to earn some money to supplement the grant. It has been mainly tour guiding. At the university I earn about pounds 4 an hour.

"In my first year here, I worked as a guide at the Aberdeen Science Museum and in my second and third years I acted as a guide for the National Trust, showing groups round Haddo House, one of Aberdeen's stately homes. The trust paid me about pounds 3.30 an hour.

"I loved studying here - that is why I wanted to come back.

"The staff are so very friendly and never fob you off. If you have a problem, you can go to them at any time and they will spend time seeing you.

"It is a very small university and a close-knit community. The town and its surroundings are lovely and the general atmosphere is extremely pleasant.

"I was born in Edgware, north London, but was educated up here in Aberdeenshire. I have a younger brother of 18 who is about to start a degree course at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen.

"My ambition is to do research and to lecture - obviously wherever there's a job going, but if I could get one at St Andrews, it would be absolutely ideal and an added bonus. Would I be put off by having to pay the additional pounds 1,000 a year for tuition fees? If I started now, I might be, but in retrospect, I have had such a wonderful time here, that it would have been worth the extra pounds 1,000."