University of St Andrews | Attraction Guides | History Hit

University of St Andrews

St Andrews, Scotland, United Kingdom

Luke Tomes

18 Feb 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About University of St Andrews

The University of St Andrews is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland and, following Oxford and Cambridge universities, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world.

University of St Andrews history

In the medieval period, Scottish students were forced to pursue their studies abroad. By 1410, most had been forced to Paris from Oxford and Cambridge due to the outbreak of War with England. The time had come to establish a seat of learning, of international standing, back home in Scotland.

St Andrews was the obvious choice as it held the seat of the greatest bishopric in Scotland and was home to a monastery noted as a centre for learning. In May 1410, a group of masters, mainly graduates of Paris, initiated a school of higher studies in St Andrews.

The University itself was officially founded in 1413 by the Bishop of St Andrews, Henry Wardlaw. Lectures initially took place in various parts of the town until 1430 when Wardlaw allowed the use of a building called the Paedagogium.

The University grew in size quite rapidly; St Salvators College was established in 1450, St Leonard’s College in 1511 and St Mary’s College in 1537. Some of the college buildings in use today date from this period as does St Salvators Chapel. At this time much of the teaching was of a religious nature and was conducted by clerics associated with the cathedral.

The University today

For decades the University has been ranked as the best university in Scotland and has, as recently as 2021, been ranked second in the UK behind the University of Oxford.

Much of the original architecture associated with the University still stands, is in use and can be visited by the public today. The University is truly a wonderful place to visit, whether you are a prospective student on a visiting day or as member of the public enjoying a historical excursion or holiday.

Getting to the University of St Andrews

Visitors to the University of St Andrews have a number of options when it comes to travelling to the town.

Located on the east coast of Scotland within the Kingdom of Fife, St Andrews can be easily reached from a number of nearby cities via public transport, road and private transfers.

International visitors have a choice of airport to fly into, all of which have good links with the town.

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