SCOTLAND'S oldest seat of learning is on its marks for a race to be the perfect fit for the 21st century.

The University of St Andrews is determined to be among the front runners in the quest for sporting excellence, and has taken an important step towards an ambitious redevelopment of its facilities.

Its planning and resources committee has approved an investment of more than £300,000 to produce detailed designs for a scheme that may see up to £14 million committed to a transformation of sport at the university. It will attempt to raise £3m from donors and alumni to add to the investment of core funds in a project aimed at offering state-of-the-art sports and training facilities to students and staff as well as the local community.

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This baton has already been taken up by other institutions north of the Border - Stirling was designated as Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence in 2008, and Heriot-Watt was last year chosen as the location for our new national sport performance centre.

The pursuit of sporting excellence by our top educational institutions can only be good for the nation's well-being, in more ways than one.