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Monday, 24 September, 2001, 09:07 GMT 10:07 UK
Business as usual for students
St Andrews University
The Fife university has thousands of students
It will be business as usual at Scotland's oldest university - despite the presence of the UK's most famous student.

That is the mission of the staff at St Andrews as they prepare for the arrival of Prince William.

The young royal's decision to sit his four-year History of Art honours course at the university has thrust the 600-year-old institution - and its staff and students - into the glare of a media spotlight.

Every year at this time there is a general air of anticipation of the next generation of students arriving

Stephen Magee
However, director of admissions Stephen Magee is aiming to ensure that the interest in Prince William provides a showcase for Scottish education - while leaving students to get on with their lives.

"We have been, as an institution, taking those steps that we felt it necessary to give absolutely everybody as normal an educational experience as they would hope to have in any year," he told BBC News Online Scotland.

"That applies to everybody.

"That includes trying to establish the level of intrusion that the media are visiting upon us and having a look at ourselves to see how this wonderful working town and university can maintain its semblance of normality.

"That's the principal objective - keeping things as normal as possible."

Prince William
The prince's enrolment led to a flood of applications
The new university year starts on Monday 24 September, but the annual Fresher's Week for first year students started six days earlier.

This was a chance for new undergraduates to learn some of the academic ropes and find their way about the university and the town before the start of term.

"All students were invited to attend this week, but all events outside the academic curriculum are optional - nobody is obliged to come," said Mr Magee.

"Every year at this time there is a general air of anticipation of the next generation of students arriving.

Media interest

"We are dealing with in the region of 1,200 to 1,400 home students every year, with an additional 200 or 300 overseas students every September.

"This year what's happened is an awareness amongst staff and students and townspeople that the media are interested in asking us what's happening."

He said the level of publicity was "interesting" for those at St Andrews.

"It promotes the excellent educational opportunities available here," he said.

"This institution has an excellent record in teaching and research."

St Andrews art and history department
Prince William will study History of Art
He admitted that he was delighted to see the increase in applications from students from all over the world - and most importantly from Scotland.

"The world is now aware of the fact that we have a very good educational system here," he said.

He hoped that this increased interest would bode well for future years.

However, he also pointed out that the university could not increase its student population as this was regulated by government legislation.

"The main message I would like to get across is that no Scottish or English or Welsh or Irish student will receive any less likelihood of getting a place here because of the publicity that we receive, because the number of places we have got is fixed.

Clearing system

"We get more and more people applying, so we get more competition for places - which is a good thing."

He said media reports that students could not get places because they were going to overseas students were "simply not true" - because the number of places for those from outside the UK was laid down by legislation.

The level of interest was such that the university did not take part in the clearing system, where students are matched up with institutions with places to spare after receiving their results.

However, Mr Magee pointed out that St Andrews usually only filled about 5% of its places through this system.

See also:

16 Aug 00 | Scotland
St Andrews set to welcome prince
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