Age: 35

History: Founded by the Church of England in 1964 to train teachers. In the Nineties it merged with Lakeland College of Nursing and Ambleside's Charlotte Mason College. Carlisle campus opened in 1998.

Address: Three campuses in Lancaster, Ambleside and Carlisle. Satellite sites in Barrow, Carlisle, Chislehurst, London, Whitehaven.

Ambience: Main campus a mile from central Lancaster is green - 35 acres of parkland with trees, Barbara Hepworth sculptures in the grounds. Ambleside is a large country house in the Lake District with pretty, landscaped gardens. There are also examples of Wordsworth and Coleridge's writing in a museum in the grounds.

Vital statistics: Specialises in teacher-training and healths. The largest provider of teacher-training in the country. More than 9,000 students taking courses in education, nursing, health, occupational therapy, radiography, imaging sciences, community/youth studies, psychology, sports science, outdoor studies, performing arts and Christian ministry. Male/ female ratio 30:70.

Added value: A pounds 2m new sports complex for January 2000, containing Olympic- standard gym, fitness clinic, potential/performance labs.

Easy to get into? For teacher-training, CD at A-level; for nursing, CCD.

Glittering alumni: Titch Kavanagh, mountaineer; Zoe Smith, Millennium Dome sound engineer; Paul King, TV post-production assistant with Formula 1 Management.

Transport links: Good motorway links (M6). If you're going by train, change at Preston. It takes three hours by train from Lancaster to London Euston. Nearest airports are Manchester and Newcastle.

Who's the boss? Prof Christopher ("Call me Chris") Carr, a lawyer who goes 10-pin bowling with students.

Teaching: Scored 19 out of 24 for drama, dance and cinematics; and 21 for nursing. In Ofsted inspection reports, scored all 1s (very good) in the first primary teacher-training sweep; scored good/very good in secondary training in history, science, modern foreign languages, maths and art; scored good in geography; scored good/adequate in PE.

Research: Awarded a 2 (top grade is 5) in RE, history, English, professions allied to medicine, education and drama, dance and the performing arts in the research assessment exercise.

Financial health: In the black.

Night-life: Lancaster is the most lively campus. JCR bar is open seven nights a week with what is said to be the world's biggest TV screen. Comedy nights, quizzes, discos.

Cheap to live in? Yes. It's pounds 65 a week for full board and lodging. Private rents range from pounds 38 to pounds 42, room only.

Buzz-word: Ace.

Lucy Hodges

Next week: St Mary's, Strawberry Hill

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