Current St Andrews University students face missing out on expected hall of residence places because of an influx of new entrants attracted by the imminent arrival of Prince William.
But St Andrews is disputing reports that it has been forced into a new £7 million building programme because of the prospective increase. Following a court meeting, the university is seeking tenders for an "accelerated" contract to build new residences, citing "exceptional circumstances" in its advertisement. This has been widely taken to mean the 44 per cent rise in its applications in the wake of the news that Prince William will begin an art history course this autumn.
But a university spokeswoman said St Andrews had embarked on a feasibility study last October to redevelop the site of two 1960s halls of residence before the applications rise was known. "We would be looking at redeveloping the site regardless of the rise in applications," she said.
On the understanding that the development was approved, the university would have to deliver the first phase by September 2002 in time for the new intake. "The only way of meeting that timescale is to advertise through the 'accelerated negotiation' route, referred to as 'exceptional circumstances' in the advert," she said. Intake figures would not be known until September, she said, although "it would be fair to say that a rise in students taking up places is predicted".
St Andrews gives single first-year students priority in student accommodation, and admits that a number of returning students already on the waiting list will not be offered places.