Alyce Slone

Alyce Slone

Published: 25 Sep 2023


The University of St Andrews, located in the historic town of St Andrews, Scotland, is not only one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world, but it is also shrouded in a rich tapestry of enigmatic facts and intriguing tales. Established in 1413, this prestigious institution has a long-standing reputation for academic excellence and a unique blend of tradition and innovation.

From its picturesque seaside location to its famous alumni, the University of St Andrews has captured the imaginations of students and visitors alike. In this article, we will delve into nine enigmatic facts about this renowned institution that make it a truly captivating place to study and explore. Join us on a journey through history, mystery, and academic brilliance as we uncover the secrets of the University of St Andrews.

Table of Contents

The Birthplace of Golf

Did you know that the University of St Andrews is often referred to as the “Home of Golf”? The Royal and Ancient Golf Club, one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the world, is closely associated with the university. Golf has been played on its famous Old Course for over 600 years, making it a must-visit destination for golf enthusiasts.

An Ancient University

The University of St Andrews boasts a history dating back to 1413, making it the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. This rich heritage lends an aura of tradition and respect to the institution, attracting students and scholars from around the globe.

A Star-Studded Alumni

The University of St Andrews has a long list of notable alumni who have made their mark in various fields. From celebrities like Prince William and Kate Middleton (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) to renowned physicist Sir James Hutton, the university has nurtured exceptional talent that has gone on to achieve great success.

The Stunning St Salvator’s Quad

One of the most picturesque spots on campus is St Salvator’s Quad. With its beautiful architecture and manicured lawns, this iconic quad is a popular gathering place for students and visitors alike. It provides a tranquil setting for studying or simply taking in the beauty of the surroundings.

A Magnet for Harry Potter Fans

Harry Potter fans rejoice! The University of St Andrews served as one of the filming locations for the famous Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The iconic staircase leading to the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films was replicated from St Salvator’s Quadrangle, adding a touch of magic to the university.

Famous for Science and Innovation

The university has a rich history in scientific research and innovation. Notably, the discovery of the structure of DNA by James D. Watson and Francis Crick was influenced by the work of pioneering crystallographer Rosalind Franklin, who conducted her research at the University of St Andrews.

Scotland’s First University

The University of St Andrews holds the esteemed title of being the first university in Scotland. It paved the way for higher education in the country and has continued to be a leading institution in Scotland and beyond.

A Diverse Student Body

The University of St Andrews is known for its diverse international community. Students from over 140 countries across the globe come together to learn and grow, fostering a dynamic and vibrant campus environment.

St Andrews Day Celebrations

St Andrews Day, celebrated on November 30th each year, holds a special significance for the university and the town. Festivities include a torchlight procession, fireworks, music, and traditional Scottish dances, creating a joyous atmosphere that celebrates the university’s heritage and culture.


In conclusion, the University of St Andrews is a fascinating institution steeped in history and tradition. From its picturesque location by the Scottish coast to its renowned academic programs, there is no shortage of reasons why it holds such a prestigious reputation. Whether you’re a prospective student or simply interested in learning more about this enigmatic university, these nine facts provide a glimpse into the unique and captivating world of the University of St Andrews.


1. What is the history of the University of St Andrews?

The University of St Andrews was founded in 1413, making it the oldest university in Scotland and the third-oldest in the English-speaking world.

2. How many students attend the University of St Andrews?

The university has a student population of approximately 10,000, consisting of both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

3. What is the significance of the St Andrews Cross?

The St Andrews Cross, also known as the Saltire, is the national flag of Scotland. It is believed to derive its name from the patron saint of Scotland, St Andrew, who was crucified on an X-shaped cross.

4. Does the University of St Andrews have any famous alumni?

Yes, the university boasts an impressive list of alumni, including Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, who met his wife Duchess Kate at St Andrews.

5. How is the academic reputation of the University of St Andrews?

The University of St Andrews is consistently ranked among the top universities in the United Kingdom and globally, known for its excellence in teaching and research.

6. What is the significance of the academic gown at the university?

The academic gown, worn by students and faculty at formal occasions, is a symbol of the university’s long-standing academic traditions and prestige.

7. Does the university offer any unique academic programs?

Yes, the University of St Andrews offers a distinctive range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, including Scotland’s only undergraduate degree in Sustainable Development.

8. What is the university’s stance on sustainability?

The University of St Andrews is committed to sustainability and is consistently ranked as one of the greenest universities in the United Kingdom.

9. How is the student experience at the University of St Andrews?

The university provides a vibrant student life with a variety of clubs, societies, and events, ensuring that students have a well-rounded and enjoyable university experience.