A royal welcome awaits you at institutions north of the border

Students are flocking to Scottish universities

Although the recent interest surrounding the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge is probably not unwelcome at St Andrews, the story of many of Scotland's universities goes back hundreds of years, and the country can give prospective students a great deal in terms of education, career prospects and, of course, life-enhancing experiences.

There are 19 higher education institutions in Scotland, including 16 universities.

They boast a rich heritage - St Andrews was founded in 1413, and the principles of the education system pioneered in the ancient universities (which also include Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen) formed the basis of other systems the world over, notably in the US, Canada and France. Nowadays, every Scottish university carries out active research, and more than 4,400 taught courses are available to students across the various institutions.

"Scotland's universities are internationally renowned for excellence and have much to offer," says Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, adding that Scotland has some of the world's oldest universities, and five among the top 150 in the world.Scottish degrees are four years long.

Students aren't restricted to spending all of those years at one place: some might study a two-year higher national diploma (HND) course at college before moving on for two more years of study at university and gaining an honours degree. According to Sim, a four year programme gives learners the opportunity to develop a more rounded skill set. "We must be doing something right as students at Scottish universities report the highest satisfaction rates in the UK according to the National Student Survey," he adds.Scotland is a popular destination for continuing study, with both taught and research-led programmes available.

"Postgraduate students will have the chance to work at research-active universities and opportunities to partner with business and industry, engaging in the exchange and transfer of knowledge and contributing to future economic, business and research development," explains Sim.

While undergraduate and postgraduate students come to Scotland from the UK, a significant number arrive from overseas too - 30,000 students from 180 countries begin courses every year. Wherever in the world they come from, Sim believes they are attracted by more than league table results.

"There's more to university than just study and Scotland is the perfect destination with vibrant, cosmopolitan cities, beautiful countryside and a welcoming spirit," he says.Students can certainly look forward to a wide range of extra-curricular diversions.

Glasgow was named a European Capital of Culture, and Edinburgh hosts one of the world's largest arts festivals every August, should they feel like taking in live music, visiting galleries and museums or scratching a creative itch. Then to recuperate there's the fresh air and altitude of the Highlands and Ben Nevis, the UK's highest peak. Those wanting to go even further can brave the far islands to learn about whisky, or the shores of Loch Ness to learn how to create a legend from a photo of an oddly shaped log.

Then, of course, there's an infectious passion for sport (especially football) that can bring the country to a standstill. You can even surf - just be sure to fully suit-up for the chilly waters.

Beyond education, students might stay on to find employment in major areas such as finance, oil and gas, tourism and the creative industries.

Overseas students can also take advantage of the Fresh Talent initiative, which allows them to stay in the country without a work permit for two years after the completion of an academic qualification ( scotlandistheplace.com).

Students applying to a Scottish institution need to go through UCAS ( ucas.com). It's worth keeping an eye on the fees situation; EU students currently don't have to pay tuition fees, but subject to parliamentary approval in the autumn, Scottish universities will be able to set their own fees for UK undergraduate students permanently living outside Scotland. Once fee amounts for 2012-13 have been agreed, the information will be available through UCAS.

Wherever students may come from, they are unlikely to have to endure the level of attention surrounding a royal romance, leaving them free to enjoy Scotland's world-class education, proud culture and warmest hospitality. That can only be to their benefit for, as the scholar Dr Louis B Wright once put it: "If one took the Scots out of the world, it would fall apart."

For more information, see Universities Scotland ( universities-scotland.ac.uk) and Education UK ( educationuk.org)

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
Review: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents The ad shows Prince Charles attired for his coronation in a crown and fur mantle with his mouth covered by a criss-cross of white duct tape
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
Football Vine shows Suarez writhing in pain before launching counter attack
News
People White House officials refuse to make comment on 275,000 signatures that want Justin Bieber's US visa revoked
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Sport
Lukas Podolski celebrates one of his two goals in Arsenal's win over Hull
football
Arts & Entertainment
Quentin Tarantino, director
film
News
The speeding train nearly hit this US politican during a lecture on rail safety
news As the saying goes, you have to practice what you preach
Sport
Mercedes Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain (front) drives ahead of Red Bull Formula One driver Daniel Ricciardo of Australia during the Chinese F1 Grand Prix at the Shanghai International circuit
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Cover Supervisor

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Cover Supervisor jobs...

PE Teacher

£6720 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Nottingham: Being the UK market l...

Science Teacher

£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Science Teacher Lon...

SEN Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: The school, the child…We are proud to su...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit