Education: A to Z of Higher Education Colleges: SOUTHAMPTON INSTITUTE

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The Independent Culture
Age: 143 from the birth of Southampton College of Art.

Incarnations: In 1981 art college merged with tech to make Southampton College of Higher Education. The latter shacked up with the College of Nautical Studies (now Warsash Maritime Centre). Emerged as Southampton Institute in 1989.

Address: Two campuses in Southampton split by a park; third at Warsash, 10 miles away.

Ambience: Main campus is post-war as the city was badly bomb damaged. Second city campus opened in 1995 on a former department store site. Expanded hugely in the 1990s with more than pounds 70m spent on buildings. Warsash campus is beautifully landscaped but quiet.

Sleaze: Earlier in the Nineties it was criticised by the now-defunct Higher Education Quality Council for the way it managed its links with some overseas colleges. However, since the appointment of Roger Brown, former head of the HEQC, as the Institute's boss, it has turned over a new leaf.

Vital statistics: The biggest HE college in the UK with more than 14,000 students on award-bearing courses. It offers 60 degrees validated by Nottingham Trent University. Wants to award its own degrees and become a university.

Added value: Degrees in yacht and powercraft design. The most innovative is a degree in fine arts valuation, now in its ninth year and linked to national auction houses.

Easy to get into? You need 10-18 points (CD) at A-level or better. Or you need to be over 21 and have work experience.

Glittering alumni: David Quayle, founder of B&Q; Pamela Blundell, fashion designer; Bobby Parks, Hampshire and England cricketer; yacht and boat designers including Peter Dubois and Bill Dixon; Mike Wedderburn, sportsman, now sports commentator.

Transport links: 90 minutes by train from London. Station is 10 minutes walk from the city campuses.

Teaching: Scored 18 out of 24 in communication and media studies, and town and country planning and landscape; 19 in sociology, materials technology, psychology, and mechanical, and electrical and electronic engineering; 21 in drama, dance and cinematics; 22 in civil engineering.

Research: Beat six new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Awarded a 4 (top grade is 5) for history of art, architecture and design.

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Good student scene. Five student union balls a year.

Cheap to live in? Room in hall costs pounds 60-pounds 76 a week. Private rents pounds 40- pounds 60 a week.

Buzzphrase: "Hit the water" (what you do in Southampton).

Next week: Scottish Agricultural College