A-Z of Colleges: Bath Spa University College

Age: 51

History: Created as a teacher-training college, it merged in 1983 with two colleges - of art and design, and domestic science - to form Bath College of Higher Education. In 1992 the Privy Council gave it the power to award its own taught degrees and it decided to change its name to describe itself as a university college. (Lord Dearing said that colleges which awarded their own degrees should be able to do this - and the Government has agreed). Last year, it formally applied to change its name to Bath Spa University College.

Address: Two sites: the main one, Newton Park, next to the hamlet of Newton St Loe, four miles outside Bath; the other is Sion Hill in Lansdown, Bath, 15 minutes' walk from the town centre.

Ambience: Newton Park is on Duchy of Cornwall land, green, sylvan and hilly, based on a Georgian mansion, with lake, gardens, woods and farmland. Buildings mostly in lovely, honey-coloured Bath stone. Bliss for nature- lovers. Sion Hill is in one of those divine Georgian crescents, Somerset Place. Behind the facade are large modern buildings housing art and design. The place is overwhelming female. Almost three-quarters of students are women. Which makes for a quiet and businesslike atmosphere.

Vital statistics: A highly rated college of higher education, it has a large number of mature students (40 per cent). Specialises in picking up those who missed out on higher education at a younger age, or fell by the wayside at school.

Added value: The Michael Tippett Centre - Bath's only purpose-built concert hall - which has recently had a face-lift courtesy of the National Lottery. Who else? It is home to the school of music, which provides the only music honours degree outside universities and conservatoires.

Easy to get into? Two A-level passes. The college takes students from further education colleges who are on access courses.

Glittering alumni: Anita Roddick, founder of The Body Shop, who did a teacher-training course at the college in her youth; Peter Flannery, TV scriptwriter, author of Our Friends in the North; Nicholas Pope and Peter Randall-Page, sculptors; Howard Hodgkin, painter.

Transport links: This is hilly country, so walking is seriously challenging. Buses ply to and from Newton Park and Bath every hour until midnight - or later.

Buzz-phrase: Spanking gorgeous!

Who's the boss? Frank Morgan, a public finance accountant, supporter of Stockport County and an aficionado of all things Indian, particularly south Indian cuisine.

Teaching: Under the old methodology rated satisfactory in geography, history and music; and excellent in English and environmental sciences. Under the new methodology scored 22 out of 24 in sociology.

Research: Did amazingly well in the research assessment exercise. Beat most of the new universities. Achieved a 4 (top grade is 5) in religious studies.

Financial health: In the black.

Night-life: Newton Park quiet at weekends. Ravers head for Bath and beyond. But there are regular dance nights in the students' union at Newton Park. Same applies to Sion Hill, where the student bar has just been revamped.

Cheap to live in? pounds 45 a week for college accommodation, minus food; pounds 45- pounds 50 for a privately rented room.