Principal congratulates staff on historic achievement

Friday 17 September 2021

In an email to all staff and students (Friday 17 September), Principal Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE congratulated everyone on the University being ranked number one in the UK by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022.

Dear Colleagues and Students

I am delighted to be able to tell you that our University has been ranked number one in the United Kingdom in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022, published this morning (Friday 17 September).

It is the first time in the near 30-year history of the Guide, or any UK ranking for that matter, that any university has been placed above those of Oxford and Cambridge.

This is a remarkable achievement; it is entirely yours, and it is where you deserve to be.

You don’t get to the top of a league table like this, regarded as the gold-standard of UK rankings, unless you have the most gifted and committed staff, the highest quality of teaching, world-leading research, and are attracting the very brightest students who then achieve their potential.

St Andrews has all of these.

We may hear a few sceptical voices in the days ahead. This is inevitable when there is such a profound and apparently unexpected change in the order of things.

Let me assure you however that we are top on merit. Nor is this entirely unexpected.

The Guide methodology has not changed, and the Guide editor has told us that whichever way they crunched the numbers this year, St Andrews ranked first.

Our strategic plan challenges us all – students, academic staff, our professional services colleagues – to believe that we can be the best, and we have been slowly closing the gap at the top of the league tables for a little while now.

It would be a fantastic achievement in any year, but for St Andrews to do it in one of the most challenging and difficult of any in our history, in the midst of a global pandemic, is significant.

I do not underestimate how difficult the last 18 months have been for you, and how much of today’s success is due to the additional effort and commitment that are hallmarks of this community.

University Principals have a longstanding tradition of celebrating good league table results, and saying rather little about those that may not be so flattering. I intend to ensure that this important tradition continues.

I hope that each one of you can also celebrate, and consider that some of the very best universities in the world are this morning looking over your shoulder.

The fact that the staff and students of a small, Scottish institution have been able to break through a hitherto impenetrable ceiling will, I hope, inspire others, and shows that the status quo need only be that if you allow it to be.

Sally Mapstone FRSE
Principal and Vice-Chancellor

Email to all staff and students from Principal Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE on Friday 17 September 2021.

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