Paul McCarthy, 24, is in the third year of a degree in English literature at Cardiff University.

"Because I'm Irish, I liked the idea of studying in Wales. I felt it was similar to Ireland, with nice friendly people, and the university here has a very good reputation.

"I've really enjoyed my time so far. Being based in the civic centre, the university looks like you imagine a university should. The social life is brilliant, the staff are very good, and the teaching is excellent.

"Cardiff itself is a complete experience. The area is lovely and the people are very relaxed and welcoming, and the town and university people blend together very well.

"Money has been tight but it's never a problem getting a part-time job. The city is great, a nice size - not too big or too small.

"From the centre it's easy to get out into the countryside, even on foot. You can go on some really lovely walks.

"Even the accommodation is great - cheap but not tacky - and real value for money. Life isn't expensive.

"For instance, if you choose the right place you can get a meal for two for just pounds 12 - and there's a lot of right places."

Sarah Frances, 33, has just graduated with a first from her theatre studies course at Dartington College of Arts.

"I had offers from Exeter and Plymouth universities, but I was impressed with Dartington, particularly with the audition process which, although gruelling and challenging, was also fun and very exciting. I just felt there was a really good atmosphere there, and I really liked the tutors.

"Also I liked the idea of escaping to somewhere rural. I've lived in London, which is an amazing place culturally, but I don't miss it. You can't beat being just 20 minutes from the beach in one direction and the moors in the other.

"There is a brilliant and very unique creative atmosphere at Dartington. There are a lot of very artistic and slightly mad people all cooped up together on the top of a hill. You can get cabin fever because it's very insular in some ways, but it's also very stimulating. I found I could really push myself.

"The syllabus is very flexible and open to you pushing your own ideas. And if you've got an idea, you only have to cross the student bar to find someone who can help you with it."