The University of St Andrews
Over the last 600 years, the University of St Andrews has established a reputation as one of the world’s leading research and teaching centres. Today, we offer a flexible degree structure based on your choice of subject specialism or research, creating an environment which nurtures inquisitive minds and a culture of shared learning. The University is committed to supporting and enhancing outward student mobility for all students, with a particular focus on those from access backgrounds.
The Saltire Scholarship – First Abroad project, jointly funded by the University and the Scottish Government’s Saltire Outward Mobility Fund, sought to build on the successful partnership between the University of St Andrews and the College of William & Mary in Virginia, USA, by providing a first year undergraduate student and an offer holder from access backgrounds the opportunity to experience a few days of academic and co-curricular activities at William & Mary.
The Scholarship covered travel, insurance, accommodation and subsistence costs for the duration of the programme and was open to Scottish first year students at St Andrews, with priority given to students with a strong academic record or who had participated in any of the University’s access projects. In selection, priority was also be given to students from subjects with low participation rates, such as Science. The Scholarship was also open to Fife school pupils in fifth and sixth year over the age of 16 and have applied to any university through UCAS for 2016 entry, with priority given to those students who had a strong academic record or who have participated in any of the University’s Access projects.
• To allow a high school pupil and first year student from access backgrounds to experience first-hand the benefits of Study Abroad, both academically and culturally;
• To identify what additional support may be required for students from access backgrounds considering a study abroad programme in North America;
• To enhance links between the work of the Access team in Admissions, the Student Ambassadors and the Collaborations & Study Abroad team, so that undergraduate students start to think about Study Abroad from the point of first engagement with the University and receive additional information about Study Abroad after admission;
• To embed widening participation activities in the Study Abroad promotion and pre-departure cycle, and to inform the long-term development of programmes and service provision;
• To raise awareness amongst prospective students and current students about the value and benefits of Study Abroad;
• To raise awareness of accessibility and scholarship funding available to support Study Abroad amongst a wider cohort of undergraduate students.
The Scholars and their experience
A first year Physics student and a Chemistry applicant from Fife were selected as the successful Scholars. A schedule of classes and other activities was tailored to the selected students and their academic backgrounds, allowing them to experience first-hand the benefits of Study Abroad, both academically and culturally. The Scholars stayed in the William & Mary dormitories with fellow students and attend classes with student ambassadors. They were able to sample some of the student led clubs and societies and to explore the historical town of Williamsburg. The St Andrews Scholar said:
‘I felt at home at William & Mary due to the community feel, something which was also demonstrated by my roommates. They helped me to get around the campus and to understand more about the country they live and study in. I became more confident in being independent, a skill which I developed on this programme and look forward to utilising again in later years as my University life progresses. This First Abroad experience gave me a taste of what studying abroad would be like. To experience a different culture, to explore new opportunities and to be, for the first time, completely independent, was a surreal experience and I look forward to experiencing it again when I study abroad in my Junior Honours year.’
The local high school pupil said:
‘The trip has given me both the confidence and enthusiasm to pursue a year abroad as part of my degree. It has given me an insight into how stimulating studying abroad can be, and has made me realise that it isn’t as scary a prospect as one might have thought. There is plenty of support available, and you retain contact with your ‘home’ university throughout the year, making your return straightforward. Many companies in the chemical industry are international, and studying abroad will increase the range of contacts I make and will demonstrate to prospective employers that I am interested in scientific developments worldwide.’
On return, the undergraduate Saltire Scholar undertook a Study Abroad Internship specifically focused on activities to widen participation to Study Abroad for credit to students from access backgrounds. Upon successful completion of the First Abroad scheme, incorporating both the Study Abroad experience and the internship, the St Andrews student was awarded a Saltire Scholar prize be included on the student’s HEAR transcript.
Finally, the St Andrews Saltire Scholar will be guaranteed a place on one of our Study Abroad programmes in his Junior Honours year (2017/8), provided that he continues to satisfy the academic requirements to study abroad as part of the St Andrews degree programme. If successful in securing a place, the Saltire Scholar will be supported with a St Andrews Abroad Scholarship with a minimum value of £1000.
Photo credits: Samantha Lister; photos show the two Saltire Scholars