Birthday messages come flooding in for University of St Andrews’ 600th

Friday 25 February 2011

President Clinton leads tributes to Scotland’s first university

The University of St Andrews 600th Anniversary Campaign will launch today with the support of alumni and friends around the world including former US President Bill Clinton, James Bond icon Sir Sean Connery, Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond, and Harvard President, Drew Gilpin Faust.

In a message sent to St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson on the eve of the celebrations, President Clinton led the tributes to Scotland’s oldest university. 

President Clinton said:

“Congratulations to all those gathered to launch the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews.

“In its six-century history, the University of St Andrews has remained dedicated to creating an academic home for people of all ethnic, religious, socio-economic and national backgrounds. As new generations of students have entered its halls, the school has adapted to serve new interests and emerging areas of study. But throughout its history, St Andrews has remained true to values of academic excellence for which it was established.

“I’d like to thank this fine school for creating opportunities for students from around the world to study in Scotland. St Andrews has helped guide and inspire America’s past and future leaders throughout our history; three signatories of our Declaration of Independence held a connection to the University, and thousands of American students are welcomed here each year for study abroad.

“I am confident that the University will continue to build on its impressive legacy, endowing future generations with the honor of a St Andrews education. Best wishes for a wonderful celebration.”

Bond star and St Andrews honorary graduate Sean Connery offered his congratulations to a university “dear to his heart”. He said:

“There is nothing like a challenge to bring out the best in man, and for six centuries St Andrews has been challenging established wisdom and challenging its students and teachers to push the boundaries of knowledge.

“Scotland has a few precious claims to be world class – her first university is one of them.

“This university will always be dear to my heart and I’m proud to be an honorary graduate of a place where good is never good enough. Ever to be the best. Happy Birthday St Andrews, lang may your lum reek.”

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“The University of St Andrews is globally recognised as an institution of academic excellence and it is important that we celebrate its achievements and proud history.

“As a St Andrews graduate, I am delighted to support the University’s 600th Anniversary celebrations and appeal. The Appeal aims to create scholarship opportunities which will help young people, of all backgrounds, have the opportunity to study at Scotland’s oldest University.

“Scotland’s reputation for innovation and world-class research is founded on the work and intellectual achievements of our academic institutions. I wish St Andrews every success in the future as it reflects on its achievements over the past 600-years.”

Scottish Entrepreneur Sir Tom Farmer said:

“For 600 years the University of St. Andrews has been a centre of learning and academic excellence. I am proud to be an Honorary Graduate and wish the University every success with its Anniversary Campaign, and for the next 600 years.”

Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust said:

“This magnificent milestone will deservedly be the cause of tremendous celebration for everyone associated with this storied place of learning. Six centuries of academic excellence, a still growing record of groundbreaking contributions in medicine, astronomy and mathematics, and an intellectual roster that has included minds as varied as John Stuart Mill and J.M Barrie are distinctions unique to St Andrews but from which every university can take inspiration.

“The students and alumni of St Andrews can be proud of their alma mater’s reputation as not only one of the world’s oldest institutions of higher learning, but as a truly twenty-first century university with a diverse and international student body and faculty.”

Former Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Lord David Steel said:

“St Andrews is unique. Heartiest congratulations and here’s to our next 600 years!”

Poet and novelist Jackie Kay said:

“St Andrews University is a rare place: a place of deep learning that also has a lovely family-feel. The university has all the passion and history of the nearby sea, but also a lovely way of incorporating the current. It is a place which allows its students to look back to the past with pride and forward to the future with confidence.”

St Andrews alumnus Prince William, accompanied by alumna Miss Catherine Middleton, will return to the University of St Andrews to launch its 600th Anniversary today.

The visit will be Prince William’s first in his role as Patron of the St Andrews 600th Anniversary Fundraising Campaign and the couple’s first official engagement in Scotland.

During today’s visit, Prince William and Miss Middleton will attend a reception at University House and visit the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA), where they will be shown the surviving Papal Bull. A gathering of 600 staff and students will await the couple in the historic St Salvator’s Quadrangle, where Prince William will unveil a plaque to mark the launch of the 600th Anniversary.

A substantial focus of the Anniversary Campaign is to raise new funds for scholarships, to ensure that a St Andrews education is accessible to all bright students, regardless of background or circumstance. In total, the university is aiming to raise £13 million towards new scholarships and support for students.

During the visit St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson will announce a scholarship to be awarded in honour of Prince William and Miss Middleton as a wedding gift. The scholarship will be open to applicants of all nationalities. It will have a value of up to £70,000 and will meet the costs of tuition, if payable, accommodation and living expenses for a four-year undergraduate degree at St Andrews in Science, Arts, Medicine or Divinity.

Note to editors

Founded in the 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland’s first university and the third oldest in the English speaking world. Situated on the east coast of Scotland and framed by countryside, beaches and cliffs, the City of St Andrews was once the centre of the nation’s political and religious life.

Today, it I known around the world as the Home of Golf and a vibrant academic centre with a distinctively cosmopolitan feel where students and university staff account for almost half of the local population.

The University of St Andrews is a diverse and international community of 9000, comprising students and staff of 120 nationalities. It has 7500 students, 6000 of them undergraduates, and employs approximately 1800 staff – 700 academic and 1100 support personnel.

St Andrews graduates include Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, Nobel Laureate Sir James Black and James Wilson, one of the fathers of the American Revolution. It has 1000 Honorary graduates, including Bob Dylan, Benjamin Franklin, The Dalai Lama, Severiano Ballesteros and Jack Nicklaus.

The University is one of Europe’s most research intensive seats of learning – over 40% of its turnover comes from research grants and contracts.

It is the top rated University in Scotland for teaching quality and student satisfaction and among the top rated in the UK for research. St Andrews is consistently ranked among the United Kingdom’s top ten universities in university league tables compiled by The Times, The Sunday Times, The Guardian and The Good University Guide. It has five times been named the top multi-faculty university in the UK in the National Student Survey. In 2010, it was named one of the world’s Top 20 Arts and Humanities universities in the Times Higher World Rankings.

An international reputation for delivering high quality teaching and research and student satisfaction make it one of the most sought after destinations for prospective students from the UK, Europe and overseas. The university currently receives on average 10 applications per place. St Andrews has not entered clearing for several years and sets highly challenging asking rates to attract only the most academically potent students in the Arts, Sciences, Medicine and Divinity.

It runs an innovative Access Programme to attract new students from non-traditional university backgrounds and currently invests in a wide range of scholarships.

In recent years, the university has pursued a varied programme of investment.

It has recently opened a new £45 million Medical and Biological Sciences building and the provision of 250 new rooms for students. In the year ahead it will progress work on a major £14 million refurbishment of its Main Library, the construction of a new Biological Sciences Research Centre, the development of a wind farm to offset rising energy costs and the development of plans for a renewable energy centre.

As it begins its anniversary celebrations, St Andrews is launching a highly ambitious £100 million fundraising campaign to support new scholarships and ensure it has the resources and infrastructure to continue a 600-year-old tradition of academic excellence.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office

Contact Niall Scott / Gayle Cook / Emma Shea on 01334 462244 / 467227 / 462109.

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