An appeal launched to help Fife students affected by the Covid-19 crisis, support vital research at the University of St Andrews, and help the town of St Andrews get back on its feet after the pandemic has raised more than half a million pounds in a little over a month.
Alumni, supporters, students and staff of Scotland’s oldest university have responded magnificently after the University launched its Covid-19 Appeal in early April, one of the first universities in the UK to do so.
The fundraising effort was set up to harness support for three key areas – a fund for students affected by the crisis, a strategic response fund to support vital research, and a community fund to offer assistance to local groups and causes in St Andrews and North East Fife.
Over a thousand St Andrews students have been unable to return home because of travel restrictions and personal circumstances, others have been hampered in their studies because of a lack of access to technology to study online, some have lost vital income because of the shutdown but are still being charged rent by private landlords, while many others need help with bursary or stipend support to complete their studies over a longer period of time.
Meanwhile, world-leading research at St Andrews has been hit by the lockdown and the strategic response fund allows the University to respond rapidly to support staff, students and key areas of research focus.
The third leg of the St Andrews appeal, a community fund, was launched last month and has already received bids from local charities and groups delivering vital local services and planning for the town’s recovery when the pandemic has passed.
Donations and pledges of support have flooded in from hundreds of St Andrews graduates, staff, current students and supporters, including a six-figure donation from Santander and Santander Universities Network.
Current St Andrews students staged the Soak for St Andrews initiative, encouraging each other to keep alive the spirit of the traditional May Dip and soakings of senior students after their exams, while raising much needed cash for the University’s community support efforts.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, said the response to the Covid Appeal has been humbling.
“We are so grateful,” she said.
“St Andrews has always been a global community, but the overwhelming response to this appeal is a reminder of the importance of the town and its university to people all over the world.
“We’ve had donations from every continent and the messages of support which have accompanied these gifts have been concerned and heartfelt.
“Like all universities, St Andrews faces a very challenging and uncertain future as a result of the pandemic.
“Knowing that we and this town have the support of a global family of alumni, friends and supporters is a priceless encouragement, and the appeal means we can respond rapidly to support the people and activities in our community most affected by the crisis.”