Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell today hailed the team of student ambassadors at the University of St Andrews as champions of the key values of access and excellence, which underpin Scottish education.
The Education Secretary joined the students as they announced that they would each be donating one day’s wages to fund a scholarship to support a student from a background of hardship to study in St Andrews and join the team of ambassadors. This is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in Scotland.
The team of over 70 ambassadors help with a variety of outreach projects including shadowing and mentoring school pupils, tutoring in local Fife schools, and supporting the University’s Space School – a series of interactive classes and workshops for primary 6 pupils who are interested in space, science, and maths.
The ambassadors presented the Education Secretary with a scarlet gown. As the oldest university in Scotland, and the third oldest in the English-speaking world, the University’s scarlet gown has become a potent symbol for Scotland’s tradition of academic excellence, St Andrews’ founding role, and the University’s growing scholarly community.
Having been welcomed into that the community Mr Russell took the opportunity to praise the student ambassadors for their contributions to diversity in higher education and improving the life chances of disadvantaged pupils in Fife.
Michael Russell, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, said:
“Ensuring the opportunity to study at university is available to every young person based solely on ability, regardless of background or financial means, should be a priority for all those involved in higher education. Removing inequality is not an add on and should not be regarded as such.
“The student ambassador scheme at the University of St Andrews is an excellent example of how our universities are doing this by making the connection with local schools and communities to promote the benefits and importance of higher education. I applaud the generosity shown by the students I have met today which demonstrates a dedication to this principle that goes above and beyond the call of duty.”
The student selected to benefit from the scholarship will also be presented with a free red gown, and will benefit from a wage throughout their term as a student ambassador. It is hoped that this gesture will become an annual occurrence.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor Dr Louise Richardson said:
“I am delighted that the first student to graduate with the support of this scholarship will do so during the University’s 600th Anniversary. We are determined to ensure that the best and brightest minds are attracted to St Andrews, regardless of their financial background. It is testament to the altruism and unique commitment of our students that they would forgo their own, hard-earned pay to ensure that other students may enjoy the benefits of a St Andrews education.”
Student Ambassador Claire Johnston said:
“Student ambassadors are drawn together from a variety of backgrounds by a shared passion for the University of St Andrews and a desire to share this enthusiasm with the future students of a truly unique univeristy.
“This year we are excited to create the first Ambassadors’ Scholarhsip, through which we hope to make a difference to the life of an individual and to the wider university community which continues to give us so much.”
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