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Founded in 1413, St Andrews is the oldest university in Scotland. By the middle of the sixteenth century the University had three colleges – St Salvator’s (1450), St Leonard’s (1511), and St Mary’s (1538): the buildings of St Mary’s College and St Salvator’s Chapel both date from this period.
The sixteenth to eighteenth centuries were a period of mixed fortunes for the University. It was during this time (1747) that St Salvator’s and St Leonard’s Colleges were amalgamated to form the United College which still survives in a greatly enlarged form.
In the nineteenth century the University made considerable progress in developing teaching and research in the Arts, Divinity and the Biological and Physical Sciences. In 1897 the University was joined by a new academic center in Dundee and with it gained notable achievement in Medical and Applied Science. This association ended in 1967 with the foundation of a separate University of Dundee.
The University is an integral part of the city of St Andrews (population 18,000), situated in a sheltered bay on the east coast of Scotland some fifty miles north of Edinburgh and thirteen miles south of Dundee. Road and rail communications with the rest of the UK are good. The nearest railway station is at Leuchars, five miles away, with a regular bus service to St Andrews. Trains run direct to Edinburgh (one hour) and London (six hours). It is also possible to travel to Scotland by air, arriving at Dundee, Edinburgh or Glasgow and transferring to public transport.
There has been a settlement on the site of the town from at least Pictish times (sixth century AD). Since then the city has played an important part in the history of the development of Scotland. As the focus for the national cult of St Andrew, it became in the middle ages a religious center of major importance. In the Renaissance the city was a thriving intellectual center with links to Paris and other continental university towns. St Andrews was also an important political and recreational center for the Scottish royal family, which regularly spent Christmas here. Mary, Queen of Scots, made several visits to St Andrews. During the Reformation the city witnessed the sometimes violent power struggles between the different factions which ultimately saw the supporters of the protestant faith gain ascendancy. In the aftermath of the Reformation and more particularly after the Union with England (1707), the importance of the city declined.
It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century that the fortunes of the city began to revive. The extent of this is exemplified by the three-fold expansion of the area covered by its boundaries between 1900 and the present day.
The University provides an invigorating intellectual climate in which staff have close contacts with one another and with colleagues in other UK and overseas universities and research establishments. All Schools in both the sciences and the arts are actively involved in pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. A student population of approximately 6,500 allows its members a close sense of identity and personal contact with staff.
Physically the University is closely integrated with the town; the purpose-built Library and many academic Schools are located centrally. The growth in physical and mathematical sciences has been accommodated at the North Haugh on the edge of St Andrews. A modern sports center with adjacent playing field and halls of residence are also located in this area. All academic and recreational activities are only a short distance from each other; a bicycle is a convenient and healthy means of transport.
The University is divided into four Faculties – Arts, Science, Divinity and Medicine. The Deans of these Faculties and other Faculty officers are responsible inter alia for the approval of new postgraduate courses and for the overseeing and monitoring of the progress of students.
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