An appeal to help Fife students affected by the Covid-19 crisis and support vital research at St Andrews University has raised more than £500,000 in just over a month.
Scotland’s oldest university said alumni, supporters, students and staff had responded magnificently to the fundraising effort, which will also help the town of St Andrews get back on its feet.
St Andrews was one of the first universities in the UK to set up an appeal to harness support for three key areas – a fund for students affected by the crisis, a strategic response for vital research and a community fund for local groups and causes across north east Fife.
More than 1,000 St Andrews students have been unable to return home because of travel restrictions and personal circumstances.
Others have been hampered in their studies due to a lack of access to technology to study online, some have lost income because of the shutdown but are still being charged rent by private landlords and many have required support with bursaries or stipends 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 community fund, launched last month, has already received bids from local charities and groups delivering services and planning for the town’s recovery when the pandemic has passed.
Donations and pledges of support have flooded in from hundreds of graduates, staff, students and supporters, including a six-figure sum 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 Day dip and soakings of senior students after their exams, while raising cash for the university’s community support efforts.
Principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, said the response to the covid appeal had been humbling.
“We are so grateful. 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 now 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.”
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