A-Z of Higher Education Colleges

This Week: Westminster College, Oxford
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Age: 148

History: Founded by the Methodists to train teachers to educate the children of the poor in deprived inner city areas. Located for almost 100 years in Horseferry Road, London, moved to Oxford in 1959.

Address: A few miles west of Oxford on Botley Road.

Ambience: Splendid views of the dreaming spires. Cosy, everyone knows one another. Sits on a 100-acre site including woodland. It has two gyms, indoor pool and nine-hole golf course. The chapel is at the heart of the campus.

Vital statistics: A small college of higher education (75 per cent teacher training) but runs a first degree and a Masters in theology. Teacher trainers do BEd (primary training) or a PGCE. It's not a college of Oxford University but degrees are validated by the University of Oxford. Next August, the college merges with Oxford Brookes University and will double in size.

Added value: The theology degree can be done via distance learning. The Masters is only by distance. BEd allows students one day in college, fitting the rest arounda a job.

Easy to get into? You need 12 points at A-level.

Glittering alumni: Professor Sir William Taylor, ex-director of the London Institute of Education, ex-Vice-chancellor of Hull University; Michael Barber, heads Government standards and effectiveness unit.

Transport links: Mini-bus every half hour from Nuffield College to the campus.

Who's the boss? The Rev Dr Richard Ralph, former-head of the London Contemporary Dance School.

Teaching: Theology courses yet to be assessed. Primary teacher training rated adequate by Ofsted, secondary training in RE rated adequate; English adequate to good; art and modern languages good.

Research: Achieved 2 (top grade is 5) in education, religious education and English in the 1996 RAE.

Nightlife: Students can join the Oxford Union.

Cheap to live in? pounds 67.75-pounds 73.75 a week for college room with food; pounds 50 private (no food).

Buzzphrase: The Westie spirit (what you get there).

Lucy Hodges