Education: A to Z of Higher Education Colleges

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The Independent Culture
Age: 150 next year.

History: Born as the first Catholic teacher-training college in 1850 at Brook Green, Hammersmith. Moved to its present site in 1925.

Address: Leafy Twickenham, south-west of London.

Ambience: Based in a Grade I listed Gothic mansion built by the 18th- century writer Horace Walpole, it has spacious grounds (35 acres) and a campus feel. Wild parakeets nest in the trees. Students live mainly in single study-bedrooms in purpose-built blocks, though two halls have en-suite rooms. Overseas students flock in via the University of Wisconsin's UK study-abroad scheme and a Malaysian programme. Most are Catholic. Father Devlin looks after their pastoral care.

Vital statistics: 2,700 students, 35 per cent of whom are training to be teachers. Degrees, awarded by the University of Surrey, include drama, English, Irish studies, sport, biology, health, environment, sociology, classical studies, media - and, of course, theology. Aims to get its own degree-awarding powers.

Added value: Big on sport.Courses include sports science and sport rehabilitation - and in 1999 its sports teams were in five British Universities Sports Association finals.

Easy to get into? You need two A-levels: BC for degrees in English, drama and sport rehabilitation; CC for primary teaching; and CD for combined degrees such as religious studies with English.

Glittering alumni: Actor Pete Postlethwaite; comedian Tom O'Connor; athlete David Bedford.

Transport links: Trains to Waterloo from Strawberry Hill take 35 minutes. Or take the train or District Line Tube at Richmond, but that means a 30-minute walk, or a bus or train ride. M3 and M4 are close.

Who's the boss? Historian Dr Arthur Naylor.

Teaching: Scored 20 out of 24 for sociology and drama, dance and cinematics. Rated very good/sound by Ofsted for primary teacher-training; good/adequate for foreign languages, classics and religious education; good for maths.

Research: Beat six new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Scored 3a (top grade is 5) in history.

Financial health: In the black.

Night-life: Revolves largely around the students' union which has a weekly disco, theme night or live gig. Highlights are the Freshers, Christmas and Going Down balls. Plus some good local pubs.

Cheap to live in? Room in hall costs pounds 55-pounds 71 a week with food; private rental for a room in a house is about pounds 65 upwards.

Buzzword: The Waldie (where students and staff go for a pint).

Lucy Hodges

Next week: Stranmillis College