A-Z of Higher Education Colleges: Glasgow School of Art

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Age: 154

History: Born in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design, became the Government School of Art in 1858, acquired its current title in 1897.

Address: Central Glasgow.

Ambience: Urban. Great for museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas - and shopping till you drop. Magnificent architecture. Sandstone building, created by Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1899, was the first important architectural monument to the modern movement in Europe.

Vital statistics: One of the few remaining independent art schools in the UK (degrees validated by Glasgow University), with 1,400 students. There are schools of fine art and of design and craft, plus the Mackintosh school of architecture. The BEng/MEng is a unique accredited engineering degree shared with Glasgow University. The school reaches out to the community via long-standing evening school and children's Saturday morning class.

Added value: Digital Design Studio, housed in a new Mackintosh-inspired building called House for an Art Lover, conducts research work into advanced 2D/3D imaging, including virtual reality.

Easy to get into? You need three Higher Grade passes at C, including Higher art and design or Higher craft and design plus Higher English. Or at least two A-level passes, including art and English. Plus a portfolio of work.

Glittering alumni: Steven Campbell, Peter Howson, Adrian Wyzsenski, John Byrne, Stephen Conroy, painters; Alison Watt, who painted the portrait of the Queen Mum, cup in hand; Pam Hogg, fashion designer; Muriel Gray, TV presenter; Douglas Gordon, Christine Borland, conceptualists; Robbie Coltrane, painter/comedian.

Who's the boss? Industrial designer Professor Dugald Cameron, who joined as a student in 1957. He retires this year and is succeeded by Seona Reid, director of the Scottish Arts Council.

Teaching: Rated excellent or highly satisfactory in 31 out of 33 subject areas by the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council; and satisfactory in the remaining two.

Research: Did better than 18 new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Rated 3b in art and design (top grade is 5).

Financial health: In the red for the past four years, says Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook.

Night-life: Art school union has innovative club nights three times a week. Rubenesque rhythms at voluptuous volumes! Chosen to host forthcoming Radio 1 live broadcasts for drum'n'bass and indie nights. For the more cerebral there's the restored Glasgow Film Theatre.

Cheap to live in? Limited places in student residences, two minutes from campus. Most live in private rented accommodation. Single room in hall costs pounds 45; with en suite bath pounds 50.

Buzz-phrase: p,d,b (short for pure, dead, brilliant).

Next week: Kent Institute of Art and Design