In doing so, Sally Mapstone, pro vice-chancellor for education, will take up the leadership position vacated by Oxford’s new vice-chancellor Louise Richardson.
Professor Mapstone will become St Andrews’ second female head in its history while also helping to further boost the recent growing numbers of UK universities led by women.
Lord Campbell, the St Andrews chancellor, said that the university was pleased to have gained Professor Mapstone from Oxford, which is currently ranked second in the world in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings against St Andrews at 86th.
“I am delighted that we have been able to persuade Sally to graduate to St Andrews from Oxford!” he said.
“She is a scholar of considerable distinction, and an inspired choice to lead St Andrews as it seeks to consolidate its place among the best universities in the world.”
Professor Mapstone said that she was “thrilled” with her appointment at St Andrews.
“Its focus on quality in education and student experience, its commitment to outreach, and its emphasis on independent-minded research all speak strongly to my own values,” she said.
“I have known the university for many years as a scholar of Scottish culture, and it will be an honour to be part of building its future.”
Once Oxford’s pro vice-chancellor for equality, Professor Mapstone looks set to bring diversification strategies to St Andrews, a subject on which previous principal Professor Richardson was challenged during her tenure given its roughly 40 per cent privately schooled student body.
She also increases representation of women at the very top of the UK’s higher education institutions, where at least 73 per cent remain male, while an 11.4 per cent gender pay gap persists across leadership roles.
Yet the expert in Older Scots literature may be out of step with Scotland’s long-standing policy of zero tuition fees for its country’s students, having in the past expressed support for increasing England’s current £9,000 limit.
Speaking at a Sutton Trust event in 2013, Professor Mapstone said that Oxford would have an interest in variable fees, something that is now a real possibility given plans for a teaching excellence framework.