The Lord Rector of the University of St Andrews is the President of University Court, and plays an informal, pastoral role for students. Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by students every 3 years. They are completely independent and external to the University, and represent the student community.

University Court is the highest governing body of the University. It exists to oversee the management of the University, with special emphasis on strategic leadership and accountability. The Principal leads the actual management of the University, but they are accountable to the Court, which comprises senior staff and a majority of unpaid, external, independent 'lay' members, meeting about four times a year. Court is the place where many University issues are decided: budget allocations, financial policies, academic policies, estate development and capital projects, staff and student provisions.

The Rector can open doors and help to release log-jams where the formals mechanisms for resolving issues appear to fail. A Rector with the time, sincerity and commitment to get to know the student body and engage with their issues, and the skills to influence effectively, can make a valuable contribution to the student experience, as well as to the life and reputation of the whole University.

Current Rector

Stella Maris is the current Rector, taking on the role in October 2023.

With her diverse background and unwavering commitment to student welfare, embraces the role of Rector of the University of St Andrews with both empathy and expertise. Born in Nigeria and relocating to England during her formative years, she achieved her MA (Hons) in English and Philosophy at St Andrews in 2023. Throughout her academic journey, Stella served for 2 and a half years as the Rector’s Assessor, delving deep into the intricate workings of St Andrews' unique governance and strategic mechanisms.

As Rector, Stella values her pastoral role, keenly aware of the nuanced position she holds. While her primary duty is to chair the Court, upholding good governance and ensuring the broader interests of the University, she remains firmly rooted in her commitment to student advocacy. Stella champions the student voice, ensuring it is both acknowledged and amplified, working in tandem with student representatives to ensure their concerns resonate within the University Court and beyond.

The role of the Rector, while largely impartial, serves as an essential bridge between the University's broader vision and the aspirations of its student community. In Stella's tenure, this equilibrium is pursued with dedication, fostering a space where student needs harmoniously align with the overarching objectives of the University of St Andrews.

Stella Maris



Rector's Assessor

Since 1970, the Rector has appointed a student as Rector's Assessor. This is a voluntary position, responsible for acting as a link between the Rector and the student body. The Assessor also provides aid and advice to the Rector, and sits on the University Court as a full member. The Assessor meets regularly with the Rector to advise on policy issues, discuss upcoming events and campaigns, and ensure the Rector has a coordinated media and web presence in St Andrews.

Find out more about the current Rector's Assessor.

Rector's Fund

The Rector's Fund is a grant scholarship, intended to support students pursuing a summer internship or project motivated by a desire to create positive change. To be eligible for the fund, you must be a matriculated student, and must have accepted an internship offer at the time of your application.

Scholarships are awarded based on financial need and demonstrated commitment to creating positive change.

To apply, go to the Applications tab of MySaint, navigate to Scholarships and Funding, and search for the Rector's Fund. Any questions should be sent to rector@.

The Rector’s Fund is made possible thanks to the generosity of HPM Consultants Ltd and The Lucky Club.


Younger Hall during Lord Kilmuir’s installation, 1955.

Until the mid-19th Century, the Rector had to be a minister of the Church of Scotland. Then, claiming that this was incompatible with their oath to elect a rector ‘of great worth and fame’, the students sought to break the mould by electing Sir Walter Scott in 1825 – an election which was immediately declared null and void.

One of the first rectors to be elected after the 1858 Act was John Stuart Mill, who helped himself to a concept of rector as ‘honorary president’ (more the intended style of the Chancellor’s post).  He made one speech and then disappeared for all of his three year term.

For the rest of the 19th century, many of the rectors were senior politicians from conservative and liberal parties. Then there followed a succession of great public figures, including wealthy benefactors such as the Marquess of Bute and Andrew Carnegie; statesmen like Lord Avebury and the Earl of Rosebery; Field Marshall Haig during the First World War; writers such as J. M. Barrie and Rudyard Kipling in the 1920s; and Jan Christiaan Smuts and Marchese Marconi in the 1930s. These men increasingly adopted the style of Mill, appearing once only in their term as rector.


The day before the Installation is filled with student-led celebrations under the title of ‘The Drag’. The Rector is ‘delivered’ into town by a novel form of transport, and is then drawn in an ancient carriage, pulled by University Blues, to a series of 12-15 hostelries where student groups, clubs, and societies are deployed to introduce themselves and their activities, buy the Rector a drink, and offer a relevant gift as a memento of the occasion.

The Drag ends with a reception at the Student Union building, followed by a torchlight procession from St Salvator’s Quad to the end of the pier, and indefinite further revelling in the town’s bars.

Previous Rectors
  Name Years served
1 Sir Ralph Anstruther of Balcaskie, 4th Bt. 1859-1862
2 William Stirling-Maxwell of Keir, MP 1862-1865
3 John Stuart Mill 1865-1868
4 James Anthony Froude 1868-1871
5 Charles, Lord Neaves 1872-1874
6 Arthur Penryhn Stanley, Dean of Westminster 1874-1877
7 Roundell Palmer, Lord Selborne 1877-1880
8 Sir Theodore Martin 1880-1883
9 Donald James Mackay, 11th Lord Reay 1884-1886
10 Arthur James Balfour of Whittinghame 1886-1889
11 Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava 1889-1892
12 John Patrick Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute 1892-1898
13 James Stuart, MP 1898-1901
14 Andrew Carnegie of Skibo 1901-1907
15 John Lubbock, 1st Lord Avebury 1907-1910
16 Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Roseberry 1910-1913
17 John Campbell Gordon, 1st Marquess of Aberdeen 1913-1916
18 Sir Douglas Haig 1916-1919
19 Sir James Matthew Barrie 1919-1922
20 Rudyard Kipling 1922-1925
21 Fridtjof Nansen 1925-1928
22 Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell 1928-1931
23 Jan Christian Smuts 1931-1934
24 Guglielmo Marconi, Marchese Marconi 1934-1937
25 Robert MacGregor Mitchell, Lord MacGregor Mitchell 1937-1938
26 Sir David Munro 1938-1946
27 Sir George Cunningham 1946-1949
28 David George Brownlow Cecil, Lord Burghley 1949-1952
29 David Robert Alexander Lindsay, 28th Earl of Crawford 1952-1955
30 David Patrick Maxwell-Fyfe, 1st Viscount of Kilmuir 1955-1958
31 Robert John Graham Boothby, Lord Boothby 1958-1961
32 Charles Percy Snow, Lord Snow 1961-1964
33 Sir John Knewstub Maurice Rothenstein 1964-1967
34 Sir Learie Constantine, Lord Constantine of Maraval and Nelson 1967-1970
35 John Cleese 1970-1973
36 Alan Coren 1973-1976
37 Frank Muir 1976-1979
38 Tim Brooke-Taylor 1979-1982
39 Katharine Whitehorn 1982-1985
40 Stanley Adams 1985-1988
41 Nicholas Parsons 1988-1991
42 Nicholas Campbell 1991-1993
43 Donald Findlay 1993-1999
44 Andrew Neil 1999-2002
45 Sir Clement Freud 2002-2005
46 Simon Pepper 2005-2008
47 Kevin Dunion 2008-2011
48 Alistair Moffat 2011-2014
49 Catherine Stihler 2014-2017
50 Srdja Popovic 2017-2020
51 Leyla Hussein OBE 2020-2023
51 Stella Maris 2023-Present