New St Andrews student union gets the go ahead

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Student union redevelopment

The University of St Andrews and the St Andrews Students’ Association are to move ahead with a major and long-awaited redevelopment of the Students’ Association building in St Mary’s Place.

The University Court has agreed that work can start on a top-to-bottom revamp of the Union costing up to £12 million. The distinctive building has remained largely unchanged since it was built for a much smaller student population in the 1970s.

The news has been warmly welcomed by St Andrews student leaders and the Students’ Association, which is to contribute £750,000 of its own funds to the redevelopment.

Contractors are now due to move in to begin major works on March 4th – almost 40 years to the day that work began on the old Union. It’s hoped the project will be complete by the end of 2015.

The re-vamped St Andrews union will include:

  • A new entrance which will transform the current car-park area.
  • A new street-facing café, run for students and the public, by students.
  • New venues, with the current Venue One split into two distinct spaces: a flexible performance space and a 600 person capacity entertainment venue, with a lounge area for an additional 270 persons.
  • A dramatic expansion and improvement in terms of society space on the middle and top floors of the Union. Overall, society space will increase from 8 rooms to 14, with an overall increase of 40% in square meters. This will include a design suite, radio broadcasting facility and film editing suite.
  • On the top floor, two large flexible rooms will be introduced, both suitable for rehearsals.
  • The current Venue 2 will be reworked into a sky bar serving wine and cocktails, and aimed especially at postgraduate students. An acoustic/ sports venue located on the ground floor may replace the current ‘live venue’ functions of Venue 2.
  • The current Main Bar will be broken up into smaller areas, each with its own identity and suitable for studying, socialising and relaxing. Two of the booths will be designed as Skype pods, so our internationally-connected students can keep in touch with friends and family.
  • A greener, more sustainable building, aiming to be among the best in St Andrews.

Association President Freddie Fforde commented:

“This is a real landmark. After more than a decade of trying to find a solution, there is now a future for our building. The University has shown a real understanding of student needs in committing hard cash to support the vital services that we provide.

“We have been saving up for this moment over many years, despite an increasingly difficult environment. This is a real success story for what the Association and University can achieve when we work together.

“I am most excited by what this means for our student societies. Many hundreds each year go on to form careers built around their extra-curricular experiences at St Andrews. We think we have the largest number of student societies anywhere in the UK but we know we have the best.”

University Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne, said:

“The Students’ Association building hadn’t changed much since I was a student and I am delighted that we are now able to work with the Students’ Association to deliver long awaited and innovative improvements.

“We want the Union to be a central part of the St Andrews experience and it should match the high standards we achieve in so many other areas of university life.

“The University has to be extremely careful about the way it spends and commits money in this challenging and volatile economic climate, but the Union has long been a priority for us and giving the green light to this major project is a reflection of how much we value the St Andrews student experience.”

Informal works have already begun inside the building, which will see Student Services temporarily relocated to the top floor. Some societies’ activities will be displaced to classrooms and other University buildings for the coming semester. Students have been urged to be patient with services inside the building whilst the work goes on around them.

Freddie fforde continued: “Our societies have been asked to exercise patience and understanding with use of the building whilst redevelopment works go on. Unfortunately, the nature of works is that plans can change at no notice to us. We are doing the very best to obtain clear information and plan accordingly but this is not always under our control.”

Students will be kept updated on the progress of the redevelopment at Over the past few years, past and present St Andrews Students’ Association Sabbatical Officers have laid the groundwork for redevelopment, reviewed a number of different models, carried out widespread consultations with students and lobbied the University for funding.

The redevelopment will be funded partly from University and Association coffers and partly through fundraising. St Andrews Principal Professor Louise Richardson has already secured more than one major donation towards the project.

The Students’ Union is one the University’s fundraising priorities as part of its £100 million 600th Anniversary Campaign.

The University Court Meeting took place on Friday 25th January. The President and the Director of Representation, Amanda Litherland, were the elected student members present.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Press Office,
Contact Niall Scott on 01334 462530/2244, email [email protected]
Ref: Unionrevamp 060213

Freddie fforde, Association President, is available for comment at 01334 46 2700.

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