Background no barrier to mastering success at St Andrews

Monday 4 December 2023

A Dundee woman who spent her childhood in care, left school with few qualifications and became homeless has celebrated being awarded a Masters degree with Distinction from St Andrews this week.

Former Harris Academy pupil Rebecca Munro first became aware of the supported pathways scheme into Higher Education when the University of St Andrews’ Access team visited Dundee College where she was studying for her Highers.

Following her application, Rebecca was awarded a generous scholarship to allow her to commute from Dundee and relieve the pressure of needing a part-time job during her studies. This scholarship, she said, was pivotal to her integration into university life and success in her studies.

Throughout her undergraduate studies, Rebecca advocated for care-experienced people within Higher Education, volunteering with Who Cares? Scotland and consulting on The Promise.

Rebecca, who now lives in Newport, also defied statistics which show that only 6% of care-experienced Scots go on to Higher Education, with those who graduate dropping to around 1 to 2%.

In recognition of her work as an advocate in this area, University Principal Dame Sally Mapstone invited Rebecca to join her at an event with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2020.

Following the completion of her undergraduate degree in Geography and receipt of a First Class Honours, Rebecca was chosen as a Robert T Jones Scholar. This prestigious scholarship allowed her to study, alongside three other scholars, at Emory University in Atlanta for a year.

On her return to Scotland, Rebecca embarked on an MLitt Management degree at the University and was fortunate to be awarded the St Leonard’s Masters Scholarship for this year of study.

In September this year, Rebecca was successful in her application to join the Access and Widening Participation team within Admissions at the University. A major part of Rebecca’s role is continuing her advocacy in the care-experienced space, where she oversees the care-experienced pupils as part of the University’s outreach programmes and represents the University at Fife’s Corporate Parenting Board.

Commenting on her academic success, Rebecca said: “I couldn’t have done this without the support of the St Andrews Access team and the scholarships the University provides. Gaining a First in my undergraduate degree is something I’d never have thought was possible, so going on to be awarded a Distinction in my Masters – and from the top university in the UK as well – is just incredible for me.

“I hope this shows that care-experienced young people can break down the barriers they face and, with the right support, go on to achieve academic success that would’ve been beyond their wildest dreams.”

Rebecca is pictured celebrating being awarded her Masters degree with partner Duncan Mitchell, who also attended the University via the access programme, and her sister Amy-Louise.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

Category University news

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