St Andrews University Should Be Privatised 57

After a tiring trip from Accra to Izmir via Frankfurt and Munich (in which I discovered Lufthansa incredibly do not offer a wireless connection in their business class lounges) I arrived in my hotel last night and put on BBC World to catch up on events before getting my kip. Imagine my horror on hearing “Now for a half hour report on the highlights of this week’s preparations for the royal wedding.”

This morning it happened again. The BBC ran a report on Nazarbayev’s “re-election” in Kazakhstan with 95.5% of the vote. Without a hint of conscious irony, they then morphed into a straight 15 minutes of absolute propaganda, in which among other lies we were told that New York is agog with “Royal wedding fever” and that Kate Middleton is “an ordinary girl about to become a Princess”.

It is 33 years since I published in Annasach, the Dundee University student newspaper, that to enter St Andrews University you did not need good A Levels or Highers – they were more interested in whether your daddy owned a Range Rover. That has become ever more true, as useless and thick but rich English people are dispatched to a dismal, distant, misty neuk where they can be embarassingly dim, invisibly.

St Andrews is in Scotland but is no longer of Scotland. It actively discriminates against Scots. Less than 20% of the students are Scots. Let me say that again. Less than 20% of the students are Scots.

I have no objection to the existence of a finishing school where the Anglo-American super-rich can send their offspring to pretend to study a non-subject like “Fine Arts”, while hoping to contract an advantageous marriage alliance. But I have profound objection to it being financed by the Scottish taxpayer.

St Andrews University should be privatised immediately. By privatised, I mean cut off without another penny of taxpayers’ cash. The money saved should be distributed among Scotland’s real universities.

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57 thoughts on “St Andrews University Should Be Privatised

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  • Sam

    It is low – I know Cambridge and Oxford have similar figures. I think Oxford is a bit worse. My point is that this is due to the low number of state school pupils applying, and St Andrews can only pick from those who do. They are trying to rid themselves of the perception that only wealthy English people can go there, but it is made tricky when others exaggerate how bad it is, and suggest they only care about how rich applicants are.

    • Craig_Murray


      Unlike most of the hostile commenters on this topic, I am glad that you realise there is a real problem of "social profile" at St Andrews. This blog is a polemic, and I do not believe St Andrews should be privatised any more than Malthus believed people should eat babies. Regular readers realise that. It was also intended to pull the legs of Simon Pepper and Kevin Dunnion, who are very nice people. But I am not sure your American principal realises there is a problem with an openly "preppy" institution in Scotland, and I am not sure that there is a state University anywhere in the world where nationals are outnumbered among students three to one, or anything like it. Not in England, certainly.

      Overseas students are great, more the better, and among researchers I have no problem if pretty well everyone were not Scottish. But in undergraduate tuition, the people of Scotland have the right to expect St Andrews to be doing a hell of a lot more for local people.

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