Widening Access and Increasing Opportunities

Jessica Wiseman
Monday 16 January 2023

The University is committed to improving equality of access for students from across diverse backgrounds, and to reducing and eliminating barriers for students. No applicant with the potential to do well should be disadvantaged by their social or economic background.

A group of students sit along a long table and write on paper copy. There are screens in the background and windows with shades half closed.Contextual admissions processes, along with supported pathways into undergraduate study, part-time study, and several Access to HE projects, are now firmly established in St Andrews. These have contributed to a significant increase in applications and acceptances from students with disadvantaged backgrounds.  

The University collates contextual information for all applicants with a Home Funded or Rest of the UK (RUK) fee status. This information, together with applicant data, allows admissions officers to put the achievements of each applicant into context when selecting the most appropriate candidates for places at the University.


These are just a few of the University’s current pre-applicant activities and outreach programmes.   

  • National Schools Programme (NSP): Access to High Demand Professions – Reach

Established through the Scottish Funding Council, NSP aims to widen participation in high-demand professions. At St Andrews the programme works with senior pupils who aspire to study in the Schools of Medicine, Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Departments of Economics and Management in the Business School.

  • Sutton Trust Summer Schools

The University has been in partnership with The Sutton Trust for over 20 years. In collaboration with the Trust, the University hosts a free week-long summer school each year for state school pupils currently in S5 (Scotland), Year 12 (England/Wales), and Year 13 (Northern Ireland).  

  • First Chances Fife (FCF)

The University works with all secondary schools and several primary schools in Fife through the FCF project. The Senior Phase element aims to support S4-S6 pupils with their aspirations towards higher education. The programme focuses on giving an insight into higher education, along with support for applying to college or university.  

  • Experience Medicine

Delivered in partnership with NHS Fife, the programme offers prospective medicine applicants moving from S5 to S6 the opportunity for hands-on work experience in a medical setting.  

  • Access to Rural Communities (ARC)

ARC supports and enables young learners from rural communities in Scotland on their journey into university.   

Supported Pathways and alternative pathways  

The University offers degree routes that give applicants with alternative qualifications, or those who may have narrowly missed our standard entry requirements, the opportunity to study at St Andrews. These pathways not only provide entry routes, but also come with pre-arrival and transitional support to ensure the students have the best possible start at St Andrews and go on to achieve their full potential.  

  • Gateway programmes

There are Gateway programmes for each of our four faculties and they promote the uptake of higher education among groups that are traditionally under-represented at university. They have been designed to help those who have experienced some disadvantage in their schooling gain entry to the University.  

  • Further Education to Higher Education (FE-HE) Pathway programmes

The FE-HE Pathway to Arts and FE-HE Pathway to Science programmes offer supported entry to applicants studying towards alternative entry qualifications at further education colleges.  

  • Lifelong Learning   

The University offers a part-time MA Combined Studies programme and upskilling opportunities designed specifically for those returning to education after a break. Delivered on a part-time basis in the evening, these are ideal for those who may have other commitments which prevent them from undertaking full-time study.   

The Centre for Art and Politics  

Founded in 2018, the Centre for Art and Politics is an interdisciplinary research unit housed in the School of International Relations.  

By focusing on community-led and community-informed research and education, the Centre aims to create opportunities for learning that amplify voices in a way that is collaborative and committed to addressing the human impacts of climate change.  

The Centre explores social and political expressions in its many forms as objects of study, vehicles of memory and identity, and as research outputs. While much of the focus will be on contemporary art, current conflicts, and immediate social issues, the Centre also invites historical explorations and analyses.  

To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration and transdisciplinary perspectives, the Centre invites participation from across many different areas in the Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and beyond.  


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