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Last Updated: Monday, 1 November, 2004, 14:01 GMT
St Andrews tries to curb elitism
Prince William on the pier at St Andrews
Prince William is in the fourth year of his degree at St Andrews Univerity
The Scottish university attended by Prince William is offering scholarships to pupils from state schools in a bid to dispel its elitist image.

The 50 awards, from St Andrews University to Scottish school pupils, will be worth 3,000 per year.

The university is initially paying an annual 1m into the scheme.

Half will come from its own coffers - the rest from donations made by past students, including rector Clement Freud and artist Jack Vettriano.

Applications will be judged by a committee which will look at various criteria, including social background and academic potential.

Hundreds of past students have contributed to the project, meaning the number of scholarships will double within the next three to four years.

We know there are excellent students in state schools out there who will do well at St Andrews
Dr Brian Lang
Principal, St Andrews University
A number of past students have pledged lump sums of 75,000 to the scheme, while others will provide a perpetual endowment.

Principal, Dr Brian Lang, said: "We are trying to make the student body more diverse - diversity is a great thing in itself.

"But we're being very careful about how we manage diversity. We don't want to change the shape of the student body overnight."

He added: "First of all, we want to maintain our excellence. We're the top university in Scotland for research and teaching - those standards we are keen to maintain.

"We know there are excellent students in state schools out there who will do well at St Andrews."

Dr Lang stressed that applications to study at St Andrews had been rising steadily over the past few years and were continuing to do so.

Less affluent

But the enrolment of Prince William, in his final year of a four-year geography degree, is thought to have boosted the university's reputation among the English privately-educated gentry.

Of this year's intake of 2,000 undergraduates, 30% were Scottish, another 30% English and more than 10% flocked from the rest of the EU.

About 63% of its student body was found to be made up of pupils from state schools, according to its latest figures.

A recent study ranked it fourth behind Oxford, Cambridge and University College London on admissions of students from independent schools.

The principal said the remote location of the university, on the most easterly tip of Fife, made commuting difficult and said the scholarships aimed to provide Scotland-domiciled students from less affluent backgrounds with funds towards accommodation costs.

But students commuting each day from a family home could apply for a reduced award of 750 per year and those who embark upon part-time study a pro-rata award.

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