Education: A-Z Of Universities Teesside

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The Independent Culture
Age: 68, if you count from the birth of Constantine Technical College; or 28 from the creation of Teesside Poly; or six years as a university.

History: Founded by shipping magnate Joseph Constantine, the original tech was strongly grounded in technical subjects, such as naval architecture and engineering. When it became a poly, it became a leading centre for computer science and mathematics.

Address: Single town-centre campus in Middlesbrough, a truly northern town.

Ambience: The university is emerging from its Portakabin-bound existence into a Campus 2000 redevelopment programme. This has included a state- of-the-art open-learning technology centre and cinema, 600 new residential places, a learning resource centre and a pounds 10 million innovation and virtual reality centre. The library has been done up for pounds 1 million. All of which compensates for the gritty reality of the town's back-to-back houses and silent factories.

Vital statistics: Quintessentially local and vocational university which has grown from 5,000 to 13,500 students in 10 years. Calls itself the "Opportunity University" to stress its accessibility and desire to reach out. More than 35 per cent of full-time students are over-21 on entry. Offers complete range of courses, from HNDs and HNCs through to degrees. Since merger with Durham and Teesside College of Health in 1995, health studies and nursing has become the biggest academic area with more than 3,000 students. Then comes business and management, followed by computing and maths, science and technology.

Added value: Close ties with local further education colleges through the University of Teesside partnership, some of which teach university courses, especially at HND level, under franchised arrangements.

Easy to get into? Yes. Experience counts as well as qualifications. Popular courses require higher grades, such as physiotherapy, BBD (20 points); visualisation and multimedia, CCD (16 points). Other degrees ask for 12 to 18 points.

Glittering alumni: Skin, lead singer in indie band Skunk Anansie; Martin Knotts, from dance band The Happy Clappers; Guy Laurence, Planet Hollywood's European executive vice president of marketing; Chris Newton, cyclist and silver medallist in the last Commonwealth Games; opera singer Suzannah Clarke; Paul Marsden, Labour MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham; David Bowe, MEP for Cleveland and Richmond.

Transport links: Direct train links to Birmingham and Manchester; for London, change at Darlington. Good for coaches. Or hop on a plane to Amsterdam.

Who's the boss? Professor Derek Fraser, former Birmingham school teacher, UCLA history professor and deputy principal of what was Sheffield Poly.

Teaching rating: 21 out of 24 for electrical and electronic engineering; 19 for sociology and criminology, and for civil engineering; 17 for chemical engineering and food science.

Research: Came 100 out of 101 in the research assessment exercise. Achieved 3a (top grade is 5) in sociology and history.

Financial health: It's in the black.

Nightlife: Union Central, main student bar, has live ents and is cheap. But the Zoo, the university's own nightclub, is bigger and open until 2am.

Cheap to live in? Yes. University accommodation costs pounds 32.72 to pounds 45.30 a week; private rents less.

Buzzphrase: Happy Days (term of approbation).

Next week: Thames Valley.