A-Z OF UNIVERSITIES ABERYSTWYTH

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University of Wales, Aberystwyth

Age: 124

Address: half way down the coast, West Wales.

Ambience: remote spot, small town surrounded by gorgeous scenery and bags of fresh air, divine view of Cardigan Bay. One cinema, one arts centre, 41 pubs and a weekly market. Town 50 per cent Welsh speaking, so bring your Mabinogion.

Does that mean English speakers aren't welcome? No, silly. Most students come from outside Wales. Only 10 per cent of students speak Welsh as a first language. The rest speak Estuary, though they all know how to sing "Men of Harlech".

Vital statistics: small, tightly knit. The first university in Wales and proud of it.

Easy to get into? Not as stiff as some. Typically, BCC in arts/humanities/economics and CCC in most sciences.

Added value: outdoor activities including hang-gliding, parachuting, riding (you can get a degree in equine studies) and rambling. Sport thrives. Home of the National Library of Wales. Aber Rag is one of the world's biggest student charity appeals. Entrance scholarships worth pounds 600 a year. Year in Employment scheme for students who want a year out working.

Glittering alumni: Prince Charles, Ann Davies of GMTV and Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos, leader of the Opposition in the Lords.

Transport links: no motorway; take the train. Two-and-a-half hours to the West Midlands, four-and-a-half to London, if you're lucky. If you're not and have to change at Shrewsbury or Birmingham, you get a little train that potters through fields of sheep.

Buzzwords: dim probs (no problems) and mae'n glawio (it's raining).

Who's the boss? Prof Derec (sic) Llwyd Morgan, Welsh poet.

Teaching rating: excellent in geography, geology, earth studies, environmental science, Welsh and Celtic studies, information and library studies, English and American studies.

Research strengths: applied mathematics, international politics, geography, computer science, Celtic studies, history and library studies.

Financial health: university says it's sound.

Who are you to doubt that? Universities regard their finances as state secrets. It was in the red by more than pounds 2m in 1993/94 and in the black in 1994/95.

Night life: Pubs, beer pounds 1.40 a pint, students' union, discos etc.

Cheap to live in? Yes. Not too many temptations.

Next week: Anglia Polytechnic University.

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