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St Salvators Quad, University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews

Questions/Concerns about St. Andrews

Hello! I just received a conditional offer from St. Andrews (Philosophy and Statistics BSc) and was beyond happy as it has been my "dream university" for quite a while now. However, I started having second thoughts soon afterward, and I was wondering if anyone could address any of them (doesn't have to be everything, I'd appreciate any bit of information).

1. What initially attracted me was the quietness and community feel of the place (as I heard), but I can't visit the town for myself as I am an international student. Can anyone tell me about the daily experience of living there and whether there are any gardens/parks/similar places to hang out in?

2. As an international student, I find the tuition fees quite expensive (unfortunately, I submitted my UCAS application too close to the deadline, so I wasn't able to apply for the international excellence scholarship). How many funding opportunities are available throughout the actual years of study?

3. I've heard about the domestic prestige but am concerned that it won't translate internationally. How difficult is it to find internships throughout my studies to boost my employability then?

4. I really like the flexible course structure, though I was wondering if it would be possible at all for me to take Economics as my 3rd course in the first year, considering that I didn't apply for it and it's very competitive.

5. The student satisfaction rates are very high (which is a huge reason behind why I targeted St. Andrews), but I'm scared that it's not super reliable considering the negative experiences I read about here. Are they just "exceptions to the rule"?

6. Just a general question: how approachable are the professors if a student needs extra help or feedback?

I also received an offer from Bristol, which initially wasn't my first choice as I didn't find the modules as appealing, but I'm applying to the Think Big scholarship and might actually firm Bristol if I am successful. Any advice? Thank you!
Reply 1
Anyone please?😔 Would also appreciate links to resources that might answer these questions!
St Salvators Quad, University of St Andrews
University of St Andrews
Sorry - I haven’t got any answers but I’m also an international student with similar questions about what it’s like living at St. Andrews and the overall atmosphere.

I’ve lived on the equator for most of my life and recently got diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression) so the winter/late fall months are awful for me.

Anyone know if it’s really that much colder/darker/gloomier in st.Andrew’s compared to like the midlands area even?

Is it an isolated campus? Not a massive fan of how busy London is so I do prefer campus unis but is it in the middle of nowhere? Like what about Deliveroo/just eat- are there options or is it far away from everything?
Original post by amogsussy
Hello! I just received a conditional offer from St. Andrews (Philosophy and Statistics BSc) and was beyond happy as it has been my "dream university" for quite a while now. However, I started having second thoughts soon afterward, and I was wondering if anyone could address any of them (doesn't have to be everything, I'd appreciate any bit of information).

1. What initially attracted me was the quietness and community feel of the place (as I heard), but I can't visit the town for myself as I am an international student. Can anyone tell me about the daily experience of living there and whether there are any gardens/parks/similar places to hang out in?

2. As an international student, I find the tuition fees quite expensive (unfortunately, I submitted my UCAS application too close to the deadline, so I wasn't able to apply for the international excellence scholarship). How many funding opportunities are available throughout the actual years of study?

3. I've heard about the domestic prestige but am concerned that it won't translate internationally. How difficult is it to find internships throughout my studies to boost my employability then?

4. I really like the flexible course structure, though I was wondering if it would be possible at all for me to take Economics as my 3rd course in the first year, considering that I didn't apply for it and it's very competitive.

5. The student satisfaction rates are very high (which is a huge reason behind why I targeted St. Andrews), but I'm scared that it's not super reliable considering the negative experiences I read about here. Are they just "exceptions to the rule"?

6. Just a general question: how approachable are the professors if a student needs extra help or feedback?

I also received an offer from Bristol, which initially wasn't my first choice as I didn't find the modules as appealing, but I'm applying to the Think Big scholarship and might actually firm Bristol if I am successful. Any advice? Thank you!

I can't comment on the specifics of the course or academic staff but I can try other points:

St Andrews' prestige domestically certainly would appear much higher than internationally. But you have to remember the world rankings benefit the universities with a large research output. That's why you might see universities like say Manchester, Glasgow and KCL not be in the top 10 in the domestic rankings, but do very well in the global rankings. Converseley you might see St Andrews, Durham and Exter in the UK, and Dartmouth and Brown in the US do well in domestic rankings but not so much in the world rankings.

That being said, St Andrews is still well-regarded internationally but more so at the undergraduate level than postgraduate level. But in academic circles certainly it will be well-regarded.

In terms of employment prospects I can't speak for every company but certainly for big corporations that also recruit in the UK, they will be aware of the relative renown of St Andrews.

Student Satisfacton is something I would NEVER base my decisions on which university to attend upon.

Bristol is a fantastic university. But the experience there will be so much different to St Andrews from the university environment itself, to the city etc. As you have rightly pointed out Bristol is a big target university.

Reply 4
Original post by Anonymous #1
I can't comment on the specifics of the course or academic staff but I can try other points:

St Andrews' prestige domestically certainly would appear much higher than internationally. But you have to remember the world rankings benefit the universities with a large research output. That's why you might see universities like say Manchester, Glasgow and KCL not be in the top 10 in the domestic rankings, but do very well in the global rankings. Converseley you might see St Andrews, Durham and Exter in the UK, and Dartmouth and Brown in the US do well in domestic rankings but not so much in the world rankings.

That being said, St Andrews is still well-regarded internationally but more so at the undergraduate level than postgraduate level. But in academic circles certainly it will be well-regarded.

In terms of employment prospects I can't speak for every company but certainly for big corporations that also recruit in the UK, they will be aware of the relative renown of St Andrews.

Student Satisfacton is something I would NEVER base my decisions on which university to attend upon.

Bristol is a fantastic university. But the experience there will be so much different to St Andrews from the university environment itself, to the city etc. As you have rightly pointed out Bristol is a big target university.


Thank you so much! Genuine question though, why not base decisions on student satisfaction?
Reply 5
St Andrews is an academically sound university, and, as it has been said before, its poor performance in world ranks is exclusively related to research output. I did my undergrad at St Andrews, and I am currently doing a masters at Oxford. I do not feel like I am less prepared than my peers who did their undergraduate at Oxford at all; if anything, I feel that in certain areas, I am far more rounded, and I am managing well here thanks to my St Andrews education.

Now, one thing I like much better at Oxford is the vibes; St Andrews is cliquey, and I felt it was very much secondary school vibes, while the people (students, not lecturers) at Oxford are just much nicer, and it feels much more like a community here. I am really loving my time at Oxford as a whole, while at St Andrews it was a bit more strictly academic because I found it less nice in social terms. It doesn't mean I was not having fun, but I was not having fun with other students but either on my own or with people I met outside of uni.

With that said, I am possibly going back to do my doctorate there, which is a choice I am making despite being able to do it at Oxford or Cambridge. I do think that, at least in my area, St Andrews is very academically competitive which is why I have applied to do my doctorate there. My other option is Edinburgh. So, to wrap this up, academically, St Andrews is a top-tier university; the vibes are not for everyone, but they are not awful either, and you'll be fine. If you like golf or any sort of outdoor activity, you'll enjoy it a lot more too.
Reply 6
St Andrews does quite a lot of research as a percentage of staff (joint 10th with Southampton and Loughborough - everywhere's at least 15% behind Oxford or Cambridge for research intensity) but the quality of it overall is only joint 25th on 83%, which is behind Liverpool. It's currently 5th for percentage of graduates who go on to do something related to their subject. n.b. I would take claims of entry standards with a pinch of salt. Many Scottish universities claim to have high entry grades achieved by entrants but, in practice, they either admit a lot of 17 year old Scottish students whose Highers are not directly comparable to A-Levels, or they admit a lot of international students for which the same is true. St Andrews currently has a 40.4% of international students. This is higher than any major UK university outside of London. I visited St Andrews as a tourist and it felt far too isolated and quiet for me. Beautiful ancient buildings do exist in non-quiet places too. St Andrews is Scotland's oldest university and the third oldest in the UK so that gives it some prestige but I suspect it was off the radar for many people until Prince William and Kate Middleton studied there.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 7
Original post by Picnicl
St Andrews does quite a lot of research as a percentage of staff (joint 10th with Southampton and Loughborough - everywhere's at least 15% behind Oxford or Cambridge for research intensity) but the quality of it overall is only joint 25th on 83%, which is behind Liverpool. It's currently 5th for percentage of graduates who go on to do something related to their subject. n.b. I would take claims of entry standards with a pinch of salt. Many Scottish universities claim to have high entry grades achieved by entrants but, in practice, they either admit a lot of 17 year old Scottish students whose Highers are not directly comparable to A-Levels, or they admit a lot of international students for which the same is true. St Andrews currently has a 40.4% of international students. This is higher than any major UK university outside of London. I visited St Andrews as a tourist and it felt far too isolated and quiet for me. Beautiful ancient buildings do exist in non-quiet places too. St Andrews is Scotland's oldest university and the third oldest in the UK so that gives it some prestige but I suspect it was off the radar for many people until Prince William and Kate Middleton studied there.
Ok, that just irritates me. Most students in Scotland apply to university with the grades they already have from their Highers. This means they already know if they meet the entry requirements for most courses and offers aren't reliant on future exam results - a system that I'm sure a lot of English students would prefer. However most will also the study for more Highers or Advanced Highers in S6. This means that when they go to uni they have accumulated more UCAS tariff points. To note, an A at Advanced Higher scores the same in points as an A* at A level.

So for example a Scottish student with 3 A's at Advanced Higher will have the same tariff points as an English student with 3 A*s. But if they also have 5 A's at Higher, then the points for those Highers (where they are in different subjects to the Advanced Highers) will be added to their tariff score.

Scottish universities will probably have higher reported levels of entry grades because they admit more Scottish students and these students have accumulated more tariff points. It's not something they've made up- it's just a difference in the education system and how it is reflected in the tariff system.

To note 5 A's in Highers is only just short of the same score as 3 A*s at A level. So again, using the tariff system, not far off the same level. You can argue about the tariff system if you want but it's the agreed system for comparing different qualifications.

As far as content goes, I'd agree that an Advanced Higher is more similar to A level (effectively a second year building on the one year at Higher). But as I said many students have passed these before going to uni.
Reply 8
Original post by S1098
Ok, that just irritates me. Most students in Scotland apply to university with the grades they already have from their Highers. This means they already know if they meet the entry requirements for most courses and offers aren't reliant on future exam results - a system that I'm sure a lot of English students would prefer. However most will also the study for more Highers or Advanced Highers in S6. This means that when they go to uni they have accumulated more UCAS tariff points. To note, an A at Advanced Higher scores the same in points as an A* at A level.

So for example a Scottish student with 3 A's at Advanced Higher will have the same tariff points as an English student with 3 A*s. But if they also have 5 A's at Higher, then the points for those Highers (where they are in different subjects to the Advanced Highers) will be added to their tariff score.

Scottish universities will probably have higher reported levels of entry grades because they admit more Scottish students and these students have accumulated more tariff points. It's not something they've made up- it's just a difference in the education system and how it is reflected in the tariff system.

To note 5 A's in Highers is only just short of the same score as 3 A*s at A level. So again, using the tariff system, not far off the same level. You can argue about the tariff system if you want but it's the agreed system for comparing different qualifications.

As far as content goes, I'd agree that an Advanced Higher is more similar to A level (effectively a second year building on the one year at Higher). But as I said many students have passed these before going to uni.
OK, I better understand now. We should probably just use the average of an entrant's top 3 grades of A-Level.equivalents in these league tables. It'd be fairer on Scottish universities and fairer on other universities in establishing approximate demonstrated intelligence of the entrants for that year.
(edited 1 month ago)
Reply 9
Original post by Picnicl
OK, I better understand now. We should probably just use the average of an entrant's top 3 grades of A-Level.equivalents in these league tables. It'd be fairer on Scottish universities and fairer on other universities in establishing approximate proven intelligence of the entrants for that year.
Yikes! Exams are certainly not a testament to "proven intelligence". Yes, they are what we have, but they don't prove intelligence; they prove the ability to do well in exams.
Original post by JMarlb
Yikes! Exams are certainly not a testament to "proven intelligence". Yes, they are what we have, but they don't prove intelligence; they prove the ability to do well in exams.
I diidn't mean 'proven' in the mathematical sense. I just meant 'proven' to mean 'demonstrated' in some way (in the non-mathematical sense). I've changed it now to be clearer.
(edited 1 month ago)
Guys pls tell me about the weather and mental health
Original post by Anonymous #2
Guys pls tell me about the weather and mental health

It rains a lot and everyone is depressed.
Original post by amogsussy
Thank you so much! Genuine question though, why not base decisions on student satisfaction?

Because what might "satisfy" one student may not another. It's based on things like nightlife, perceived teaching quality, price of a pint etc.

As per my original comments St Andrews is a very good university that performs well in domestic rankings, but not so internationally (depending what rankings you look at) due to the way those are skewed towards more larger research-intensive institutions (and with that more so in the Anglosphere). However St Andrews has always had a strong reputation in Medicine/Medical Sciences, International Relations, its postgraduate School of Management, and it usually ranks globally in the top 50 for Arts and Humanities subjects.

In terms of the social scene, it is what it is: a quiet coastal town with a strong student tight-knit community. Some point towards issues of classism/lack of diversity at St Andrews. Sure it lacks diversity and probably has a higher proportion of privately educated students, and a lot of Americans, but university life is what you make of it.
Reply 14
Original post by Anonymous #2
Guys pls tell me about the weather and mental health

Winters are wet and pretty tough. I’m Dutch and I feel a bit down with the winters in Scotland, so, if you come from an actual warm country you might need to adjust. St Andrews is at the same latitude as Gothenburg, so pretty far north, making it quite dark but perhaps not as cold as places like Sweden and Norway.
Original post by Anonymous #3
It rains a lot and everyone is depressed.

Ok but like compared to the rest of the uk (midlands) is it notably more rainy/depressing?
It is by far rainiest in the west of the UK, regardless of how north or south you are. St Andrews is east so isn't particularly rainy. But it is more isolated than a lot of places.
And for general coldness, St Andrews is a lot warmer than some inland parts of Scotland. St Andrews is about the same coldness as most of the north of England, which is the same as some parts of the Midlands. But the south of England in both east and west is definitely warmer overall. It is always isolation that will make you feel colder than actual coldness. Some of the students form cliques at St Andrews because being sociable is vital for mental health at such a place. But if having the freedom to be very different appeals, or if having some modernity as well as the traditionalism appeals, I'd stick to a larger city like Durham or Glasgow.
(edited 3 weeks ago)
Original post by amogsussy
Anyone please?😔 Would also appreciate links to resources that might answer these questions!

hiya! I can't offer much help as I'm not a student there, but I have visited the town and was toured around the uni by some students.

on no.1, St Mary's green is probably the main spot, which is the court in the main uni site that you see in photos. When I was there in May, tons of students were lying down and picnic-ing on the grass! There's also a high street which I imagine lots of people meet up in the cafe's of. The beach must provide a spot for hanging out, too, and there's benches on the grass around it.

on no.4, I'm not really qualified to reply, but from the words of a student I met when I visited, it sounds as though there's a lot of freedom over switching courses, so if you have the skills required for economics and can prove it (in an exam, say), then you should have as good a chance as anyone of succeeding.

on no.5, I suppose you could describe any negative experience as an "exception to the rule" if it's not the majority view. every uni is going to have a multiplicity of experiences and views, just because people are individuals, so I wouldn't worry about particular negative reviews of St. Andrews.

about Bristol, the two cities are very different. I've visited both with a focus on the unis, and to me it seems like St. Andrews is a lot more study-focused regarding its students, whereas Bristol has a bigger nightlife scene and is more focused on all the peripheral aspects of student life. St. Andrews gave me a more scholarly impression, basically. This may be in part to do with the discrepancy in size and also St. Andrews' prestige, which must attract people who conform to that more dignified image. I would recommend that you reflect on which environment you would thrive in.
Original post by Anonymous
It rains a lot and everyone is depressed.

I'm from Aberdeen so I'll feel right at home 😂
Original post by Anonymous
Because what might "satisfy" one student may not another. It's based on things like nightlife, perceived teaching quality, price of a pint etc.
As per my original comments St Andrews is a very good university that performs well in domestic rankings, but not so internationally (depending what rankings you look at) due to the way those are skewed towards more larger research-intensive institutions (and with that more so in the Anglosphere). However St Andrews has always had a strong reputation in Medicine/Medical Sciences, International Relations, its postgraduate School of Management, and it usually ranks globally in the top 50 for Arts and Humanities subjects.
In terms of the social scene, it is what it is: a quiet coastal town with a strong student tight-knit community. Some point towards issues of classism/lack of diversity at St Andrews. Sure it lacks diversity and probably has a higher proportion of privately educated students, and a lot of Americans, but university life is what you make of it.

What's the price of a pint in StA?

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