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Age: Five.

Incarnations: Many and various. Previously Coventry Poly. Before that Lanchester Polytechnic, before that Lanchester College of Technology and before that - back in 1843 - Coventry School of Design.

So, it's really old then? Yep, its roots are, not its buildings.

Address: Main site is bang in the middle of Coventry. opposite the Cathedral.

Ambience: Large, modern campus which is convenient for shopping, bus station and sports facilities. Other sites are temporary: Walsgrave Hospital, following incorporation of the Coventry and Warwickshire college of nursing and midwifery in March 1996; and Leasowes Avenue, following absorption of some of the work of the Coventry Centre for the Performing Arts in September 1995. A technology park is being erected. The whole university is urban. Unfortunately, Coventry is not particularly safe after dark, so women's priority transport is provided at night by the students' union.

Vital statistics: Otherwise a good place for students. Coventry is increasingly becoming a student town, with plenty of pubs. There are 16,000 students in all, of whom 4,000 are part time. Emphasis on sandwich courses. About 1,000 full-time and a similar number of part-time students are based in 30 partner colleges within a 50-miles radius. Applications are up by more than 20 per cent this year but growth has levelled off. Traditionally engineering was the biggest programme, but it has shrunk recently. Business, art and design and health sciences have grown. Physics is being phased out.

Added value: The only university to run a course in international disaster engineering and management - for students who want to specialise in disaster relief.

Easy to get into? Fairly, because it encourages mature students and those without A-levels. For psychology requires two grade Cs at A-level, for business studies an A and a C or two Bs, and for physiotherapy an A, B and D.

Glittering alumni: John Kettley, weatherman; Steve Ogrizovic, Coventry City FC goalkeeper; Peter Hadfield, founder of Two Tone record company; Charles Morgan (Morgan Cars); Jerry Dammers (ex-Specials).

Transport links: Five miles from M1/M6 intersection, 30 minutes to Birmingham by train, 75 minutes London-Euston, next to National Express coach station.

Who's the boss? Dr Michael Goldsmith, a chemist and product of the polytechnic sector, who is a born optimist and passionate cheerleader for Coventry City Football Club.

Teaching rating: Excellent (or equivalent) in mechanical engineering, geography, modern languages, sociology and social policy and building.

Research: Was disappointed to come 100th out of 112 in last year's research assessment exercise. Takes comfort from decent scores in design, where it received 4 (out of a maximum 5); and fine art, metallurgy and materials and geography where it got a 3a.

Financial health: Claims to be very good owing to "tight ship" management. But because of its performance in the research assessment exercise, it lost pounds 1.4m and was given a special funding boost to tide it over.

Night-life: Students' union is good socially, with three bars and a refurbished gig venue called Planet.

Cheap to live in? Yes, though university accommodation is expensive.

Buzz-word: Football batch (large roll).

Next week: Cranfield University.