Education: A-Z Of Universities: Swansea

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Age: 78

History: Began as University College of Swansea when it was a technological college geared to the needs of local industry. Became University of Wales Swansea in 1996.

Address: On the south coast of Wales two miles from Swansea, next to the sea.

Ambience: Laid-back. Lovely parkland site overlooking the Gower Peninsula. Singleton Abbey, a neo-Gothic mansion, houses the administration. Otherwise most buildings are modern concrete Sixties and Seventies structures, apart from the new James Callaghan building, named after the great man, and housing arts.

Vital statistics: Part of the University of Wales; has grown to 10,000 students. Plays its part in the Community University of the Valleys which offers part-time courses to mature students hit hard by pit closures and the demise of steel. Also takes increasing numbers of Welsh schoolchildren through Compact arrangements.

Added value: Has almost 100 links with universities on the Continent, giving students the opportunity to study for a degree in Catalan, for example. Science students are also encouraged to study abroad. New law school offers options in European and international law. Swansea is one of only three UK universities to offer specialist facilities to the blind.

Easy to get into? For history, English and law, you need BBB at A-level; most other subjects BBC; engineering and some sciences BCC or CCC.

Glittering alumni: Donald Anderson, Labour MP; Mavis Nicholson, TV interviewer; Richey James and Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers; Robert Howley and Paul Thorburn, rugby players.

Transport links: Efficient train and coach services to Cardiff, London and beyond.

Who's the boss? Professor Robin Williams, a physicist.

Teaching: Rated excellent by the higher education funding council of Wales in history, computer science, geography, psychology, physics, electrical and electronic engineering, biological sciences, chemical engineering, civil engineering, classics and ancient history, materials engineering, German, Italian and Spanish.

Research: Came 47 out of 101 in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Awarded a tip-top 5* for materials and civil engineering.

Financial health: Solvent.

Night-life: Taliesin arts centre on campus hosts the Swansea Fringe Festival in October (like the Edinburgh Fringe). And there's a huge summer ball for boppers.

Cheap to live in? pounds 37 a week in self-catering university accommodation and about the same in private rented rooms.

Buzz-phrase: Doin' the Mumbles Mile (what students do on a pub crawl in a nearby fishing village).

Next week: University of Teesside.

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