Reasons to be Cheerful: Alumni Festival Weekend 2018 in review

The 2018 Alumni Festival Weekend was a celebration of all that is good to have once been a St Andrews student. Alumni Relations Officer, Phil Pass (MA 2009), blogs about some of the best moments of the weekend which saw alumni from across the last half a century return to St Andrews to take part in events with their old sports clubs and societies.


What would bring you back to St Andrews for a few days?

For many alumni, the opportunity to join in with their old sports clubs for a game of netball, tennis or hockey, or the chance to see a Mermaids play in the Barron (Crawford) Theatre again, to experience the Bop just one more time, or to catch up with old friends over dinner proved the catalyst for a return visit for the Alumni Festival Weekend 2018.

The fourth edition of the Festival provided almost 50 opportunities for alumni to re-engage with their student life over the weekend of 13-15 April.

Here are some of the highlights from weekend’s activities, in photo form!


Alumni James Martin, Juliette Camburn, Hannah Brownlow and Iain Anderson (L to R) at the Careers Panel with the Careers Centre’s Kristyn Emmer

  • Friday started with a Careers Panel event at the Byre Theatre where four alumni from the fields of environmental management, e-learning, creative writing and communications and policy answered questions from the student audience on their careers and how to transition from St Andrews to the world of work.
  • The School of Economics also held a Careers panel with input from some Economics alumni and the School of Classics invited alumni to attend a seminar and reception in Swallowgate.
Jurassic Bop

Photo by Lightbox – Julia Caira

  • The Students’ Association also welcomed alumni back into the building for Jurassic Bop – photos on Facebook


  • The annual Rugby 7s tournament kicked things off on Saturday with teams coming from all over the UK to take part. The carnival atmosphere was brought about by large crowds, a dj and various food and drink outlets across the site with matches taking place on three pitches throughout the day.
  • Tennis alumni came back to St Andrews to try out the brand new indoor tennis centre, recently opened as part of the multi-million pound redevelopment of the Sports Centre.
  • Netball alumni took on current students in mixed games on the indoor and outdoor courts.
  • The annual Kate Kennedy Procession this year coincided with the Alumni Festival Weekend and saw a plethora of St Andrews characters from the past march from St Salvator’s Quad through the streets.

King Charles II (right) surveys the scene around St Salvator’s Quad following the Kate Kennedy Procession

  • The Principal, Professor Sally Mapstone, hosted a very special “In Conversation” in Parliament Hall with alumni Iain Anderson and Susan Stewart. Iain and Susan were contemporaries at the University, both serving on the Students’ Representative Council and campaigning on matters of equality and diversity. They joined the Principal to discuss how these experiences helped to shape their careers and how they feel about the St Andrews and the wider education sector now.


  • This year marked the 10th anniversary of the first graduating class from Sustainable Development. To celebrate, Professor Bill Austin, Dr Charles Warren and Dr Rehema White from the School of Geography and Sustainable Development welcomed back alumni from the course to a reception where they could meet with current students.

Alumni, students and staff from the School of Geography and Sustainable Development

  • The Alumni Dinner on Saturday evening brought together alumni and students from the last 65 years (spanning graduation from 1952 to 2017!) where they enjoyed a University update from the Principal and enjoyed a short set from a cappella group, The Hummingbirds.
  • Other events throughout the day included Lacrosse, Hockey, Basketball, Badminton, Fencing, Dance Society’s 50th birthday dinner, Music Society, Postgraduate Society ceilidh, Yoga, Aikido, various Mermaids shows, Volleyball, Surfing, the Design Team showcase and a very special alumni edition of ‘Just a Minute’ on St Andrews Radio (STAR)


  • The traditional Chapel service and pier walk started the day for many alumni on Sunday.
  • To celebrate the Sustainable Development 10th anniversary, a special tree planting and picnic were held near the University Observatory. This was a joint event with the University’s Transitions team as the first stage of managing the woodland areas around the Observatory.
  • The Festival’s final day for 2018 also included Yoga, Dance, Women’s Cricket and Cheerleading Societies holding open training sessions and events for their alumni, while John Burnett Hall opened its doors to former residents for afternoon tea.

Keep an eye on our monthly e-newsletter, St Andrews in the News, for information on upcoming alumni events in St Andrews and around the world! 

If you would like to plan a return visit to St Andrews, the Alumni Relations team may be able to help – find more information on our Reconnecting web pages

You can follow the Alumni Festival Weekend on Facebook

*Photos courtesy of Oli Walker for Tilted Frame, Elaine Cartwright, Phil Pass and Lightbox


Ambassadors of the Bubble II: Outside the Bubble


Megan Alexander

See the first post in our ‘Ambassadors of the Bubble’ series here.

The student Ambassadors are well known in town for their work on visiting days, where they show prospective students around the University. Their other work is less well known but at least as important. Behind the scenes, dozens of Ambassadors regularly visit schools around Scotland, especially in underprivileged areas, to encourage students to attend higher education, and to consider St Andrews. Alumni Relations intern Francis Newman spoke to Megan Alexander, Vice-Principal Ambassador for Widening Access and also a student studying Classical Studies and English, about the programme.

“We work with children of a very wide age range,” Megan tells me. “From about the age of 8 up to the end of high school.”

I’m surprised – eight years old perhaps seems young to be thinking about going to university?

“With the younger children it’s about getting them familiar with exciting concepts and trying to inspire them,” she explains. “For example we once taught kids in a school how to programme some basic robots – which really excited them.”

Meanwhile with older students – about aged 14 or above, who are starting to tackle important exams – the Ambassadors help by tutoring them on projects and by talking to them about their plans, and about access to education.

“Many of these students are foster kids or could end up being the first people from their families to come to university.”

The Ambassadors also work with charities such as the Sutton Trust, which runs summer schools in St Andrews for underprivileged students. The Trust helps them to learn how to apply to university and what is expected in a personal statement, as well as providing subject-specific teaching.

Sometimes the Ambassadors have to tackle stigma against the idea of going to university, or attending St Andrews, especially among some parents. How do they deal with it?

“It helps,” Megan tells me, “that most of the Ambassadors on the widening access programme came from similar backgrounds to the students we’re working with. For example, none of my family went to university. All of the Ambassadors who help with the Sutton Trust programme did the same programme themselves before coming to St Andrews.”

The Ambassadors don’t only work with students thinking of applying – they also work with those from similar backgrounds who are about to arrive.

“We have a mentorship scheme where third or fourth years mentor incoming first years – telling them what they’ll need to bring, or how the module system works.

“That’s what made me want to become an Ambassador – to be a part of such a willing, encouraging and important team.”

Visiting days occur regularly, and other visits can be arranged with the Admissions team. Find out more about St Andrews’ student Ambassador scheme.