A-Z of Higher Education Colleges; Queen Margaret University College

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Age: 123 from its first incarnation.

History: Dates back to 1875 when the School of Cookery was born in Edinburgh to improve women's culinary skills (men didn't cook) and to promote better standards of health. Early classes held in a museum (don't ask why) as well as in public halls and elsewhere. In 1930 it became the College of Domestic Science, concentrating on training women teachers.

Address: Three campuses across Edinburgh.

Ambience: Main Corstorphine site is four miles west of city centre in gorgeous landscaped grounds with views over the city. The Leith campus is in a restored Grade 1 listed building in a chic part of Edinburgh which is close to the former Royal Yacht Britannia. Newest campus - Scotland's International Drama Centre - will provide state-of-the-art facilities for drama students when it opens in September 1999.

Vital statistics: A small to medium-sized college of higher education with 3,000 students, it specialises in vocational subjects e.g. health care, food, tourism, drama, speech and language sciences, business and consumer studies, and communication and information management. Male/female ratio 80:20. One of only four institutions close to meeting the criteria for university status, it already has its own taught and research degree- awarding powers. Now it needs to increase student numbers to more than 4,000 and move to a modern, purpose-built site.

Added value: Boasts a stellar student employment rate of 86 per cent.

Easy to get into? For physiotherapy you need AAABB at Highers or ABB at A-level; for consumer studies BCC at Highers or DD at A-level. You can also gain entry via access courses at local further education colleges.

Glittering alumni: Kevin McKidd who starred in Trainspotting and is now in Bedrooms and Hallways; Terry Waldron, marketing manager Gleneagles Hotel; Ashley Jensen, who starred in Roughnecks and is now in the cop show City Central; Andrea Brymer, news presenter for STV.

Transport links: Easy by train, bus or air.

Who's the boss? Dr Joan Stringer who is hot on equal opportunities and a member of the consultative steering group for the Scottish Parliament. Likes to garden and take care of cats in her spare time.

Teaching: Rated satisfactory in mass communications and radiography; highly satisfactory in consumer studies, hospitality studies, nursing, drama, occupational therapy; excellent in dietetics and nutrition, and physiotherapy.

Research: Beat 27 new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Achieved two 3as in professions allied to medicine (top grade is 5) and 3bs in communication, cultural and media studies.

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Active students' union runs events most nights, including hypnotists, quizzes, films and various DJs.

Cheap to live in? It costs pounds 44.45 a week for a self-catering room in a hall of residence and pounds 35-pounds 60 for a room in private accommodation.

Buzzphrase: Ballroom blitz (huge dance attended by all students)

Lucy Hodges

Next week: Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication

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