In response to the need for modernisation and in order to increase student numbers and alleviate financial problems, the university merged with University College, Dundee in 1897, which had a focus on scientific and professional subjects.
The academic year is divided into two terms, Martinmas and Candlemas.
In term time, over one-third of the town's population is either a staff member or student of the university.
The university was founded in 1410 when a group of Augustinian clergy, driven from the University of Paris by the Avignon schism and from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge by the Anglo-Scottish Wars, formed a society of higher learning in St Andrews, which offered courses of lectures in divinity, logic, philosophy, and law.
A charter of privilege was bestowed upon the society of masters and scholars by the Bishop of St Andrews, Henry Wardlaw, on 28 February 1411.
The student body is notably diverse: over 135 nationalities are represented with 45% of its intake from countries outside the UK; about one-eighth of the students are from the rest of the EU and the remaining third are from overseas — 15% from North America alone.
St Andrews has many notable alumni and affiliated faculty, including eminent mathematicians, scientists, theologians, philosophers, and politicians.
American Bobby Jones, co-founder of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, was named a Freeman of the City of St Andrews in 1958, becoming only the second American to be so honored, the other being Benjamin Franklin in 1759.
Today a highly competitive scholarship exchange, The Robert T.
Jones Scholarship, exists between St Andrews and Emory University in Atlanta.