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Age: 30

Fairly new, then? Yes; young enough to be go-getting, old enough to have developed a reputation.

Address: On a hill 650ft above Bath.

Ambience: Windswept but beautiful setting above Jane Austen's spa town. University buildings are Sixties nightmare built in honey-coloured Bath stone. City's beauty makes up for functional campus.

Vital statistics: Has risen from almost nowhere to become one of the most successful universities of the decade. Began life as a college of applied technology. Still concentrates on science and technology and sandwich courses, with strong links with industry, but has also branched out into modern languages and international studies, social sciences, education and management.

Easy to get in to? Getting harder. Three Bs needed in most subjects. Aerospace engineering requires AAB.

Added value: Newly refurbished library containing 350 computer workstations and hooked to Internet was opened last month by Nick Park, creator of Wallace and Gromit. First library in Britain to offer 24-hour service. Worldwide year abroad placements. Sports scholarships worth pounds 8,000 to pounds 10,000.

Glittering alumni: Lib Dem education spokesman Don Foster; Dr "Neil" Fox, DJ for the Pepsi Network Chart; Jon Sleigtholme, rugby player; Russell Senior, of Britpop band Pulp; Charles Lewington, director of communications for the Conservative Party.

Transport links: Only 1 hour 15 minutes from London by train and 15 minutes from Bristol. M4 is 10 miles north and Bristol airport 15 miles away.

Buzzword: "A zig-a-zig ah!" (as in Spice Girls' song "If you want to be my lover").

Who's the boss? Professor David VandeLinde, the first American headhunted from across the Atlantic to run a British university, who's been streamlining the administration and boosting the research base.

Teaching rating: chemical engineering scored 20 out of a maximum of 24; social sciences, modern languages and international studies scored 19.

Research strengths: fluid power, pharmacology, education management, biological sciences, multimedia and image processing.

Financial health: Solvent.

Night life: Vibrant and intimate, if that's not a contradiction in terms. Students' union has featured some big bands - Kula Shaker, Reef and Shed7. Small clubs in town, eg Moles for live music and Hub for dance music.

Cheap to live in? You're kidding.

Next week: Queen's University of Belfast.