A-Z of Higher Education Colleges; The College Of Ripon & York St John

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Age: 158, from its earliest incarnation.

History: Born of a merger in 1975 between St John's College, York, and The College, Ripon. First incarnation was in York in 1841, as the Church Training College for teachers. Students were given a fearsome work ethic: classes from 5.30am to 10pm. Students had to produce a certificate proving "moral character, docility and general aptitude for the life they had embarked upon".

Address: As you'd guess from the mouthful of its name, it is based partly in York, partly in Ripon.

Ambience: Main campus in York, just outside medieval city walls, has lovely gardens and a clear view of the Minster. York has pubs, restaurants, theatres, arts centre. Ripon campus, 25 miles away, is much quieter, set in 54 spacious acres of God's own county. College has a friendly atmosphere.

Vital statistics: Medium-sized college with 3,000 students doing degrees and other courses in teacher training, creative and performing arts, health and life sciences, and humanities. Popular subjects are sport, occupational therapy, teaching, film and television. About 25 per cent of students still on education courses. Male/ female ratio is 30:70; 27 per cent are aged over 21 on entry. Degrees validated by the University of Leeds.

Added value: Sport. There's an on-campus pool at York plus two gyms. All-weather floodlit sports facility being built in York. Lots of part- time work for students.

Easy to get into? You need BCC for film and television, CCC for occupational therapy. For most degrees, 12-16 points. And the college welcomes non- traditional students.

Glittering alumni: Geoff Cooke and Peter Squires, former England rugby internationals.

Transport: Good if you're on the York site - only two hours to London by train. Within the city of York, get on yer bike. Minibus plies between the two campuses four times daily. Ripon has no train station but regular buses to Harrogate. Oh yes, and good parking.

Who's the boss? Professor Dianne Willcocks, coming from Sheffield Hallam University where she's assistant principal. Expert on social gerontology.

Teaching: Scored 17 out of 24 in American studies and sociology; 19 in linguistics; 20 in communication and media studies; 21 in art and design; 22 in occupational therapy. Rated good in Ofsted's initial sweep of primary teacher training; good to adequate in secondary music education, PE, RE.

Research: Not a heavy hitter. Highest score in the research assessment exercise was a 2 (top grade is 5).

Financial health: In the black.

Night-life: Well-developed students' union means plenty of entertainment. Two bars with cheap beer. They double as club/music venues. Live bands and two club nights a week.

Cheap to live in? Single room with sink on campus is pounds 63.30, including 10 meals, a week; room in private sector is pounds 42 a week in York, pounds 35 in Ripon.

Buzz-phrase: Education wi nowt taken owt.

Lucy Hodges

Next week: Roehampton Institute