Housing Scotland’s first university, it was an incredibly important centre of education. As a result, our small town saw the development of teaching methods and the characters that changed the world of teaching and academia.

After reading the information below, use our education quiz to see what you can remember.

Katherine Whitehorn CBE (1928-2021) was a renowned journalist and author. In 1982, she was elected as rector of the University of St Andrews – the first female to hold this role in any Scottish university.

Whitehorn was the first woman to have a column in The Observer and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2014 for her services to journalism.

Whitehorn as Rector at the Pier

Frances Helen Melville (1873-1935) was a suffragist and lifelong campaigner for women’s education. Melville graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1897 with a first-class Master of Arts in Philosophy.

She was employed there as a tutor for three years before working as a lecturer at Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Following this, she moved to St Andrews to become the second warden of University Hall. Melville was the first woman to attain a Bachelor of Divinity in Scotland in 1910.

Scottish Mathematician John Major (1467-1550) worked in Paris and St Andrews teaching logic and theology. He studied at Cambridge for around a year before furthering his studies in France.

He contributed to a range of fields, including ethics, metaphysics, theology, biblical commentary, history and (above all) logic, at which he especially excelled. Furthermore, he did considerable work in legal human rights granting human rights to the so-called “savages” conquered by the Spanish.

George Martine the Elder, (1635-1712) was a Scottish historian of St Andrews. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather Dr George Martine, who was the principal of St Salvator’s College, St Andrews

Martine, The Elder, was commissary clerk of St Andrews from 1660 to 1690, being excluded from the post for refusing to pledge an oath of loyalty to King William III and Queen Mary II.

Willa Muir (1890-1970) was a leading voice in the inclusion of women in university life. As a member of the Women Student’s Debating Society, she regularly and convincingly argued her progressive views on women’s role in society.

She rose through the ranks of the society, becoming president in the 1910-1911 academic year. One of the motions carried in her year as chair was “a university training is desirable for women who are not going to take up a profession” which increased women’s vocal desire for education.

Sir D’Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948) was an influential biologist, zoologist, and classicist. He is most famous for his work On Growth and Form. 

Within this, he discovered that biological creatures and their physical structures must conform to the laws of physics and can be further understood through mathematical equations.