A-Z OF UNIVERSITIES; BRADFORD

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Age: Depends on your definitions. Has its roots in several 19th- century institutes for training textile workers. Was Bradford College of Technology until 1966, when it was awarded a university charter. Which makes it 31 in its current incarnation.

Address: Bronte country (at a pinch), West Yorkshire.

Ambience: Bradford, formerly Victorian textile capital, now surprisingly cosmopolitan. Unstuffy, friendly campus, five minutes' walk from city centre. Within day-trip distance of Yorkshire dales, Blackpool and Scarborough. Good news for people who like fresh air and seaside rock.

Vital statistics: Extremely positive attitude towards mature students; will consider wide range of qualifications and/or experience for entry. Has some oddly assorted strengths: these include engineering and management as well as women's and peace studies.

Easy to get into? Yes and no. Not so easy for pharmacy or for Britain's biggest optometry department, both of which ask for B, B, C. But, like other universities, makes it as easy as possible for engineers. The nationwide shortage of engineers has prompted a foundation-year course for those who lack the requisite A-levels.

Added value: Links with industry are reflected in the multitude of sandwich courses. Good graduate employment record. No courses in drama, music or visual arts. Instead the university employs fellows to promote culture on campus.

Glittering alumni: Tony O'Reilly, aka Mr Heinz (major shareholder in The Independent); Labour MPs Alice Mahon, David Hinchliffe and Ann Taylor; and pop poet John Hegley.

Transport links: Road and rail interchange within easy walking distance. Handy for the M62 and the M1, and 20 minutes from Leeds-Bradford airport.

Buzz-words: FND (the infamous Friday Night Disco); Purple Nasty, and Blastaway (potent student tipples).

Who's the boss? Professor David Johns, 65, aeronautical engineer. Expert on sonic boom, thermal stress and wind engineering. Can tell you anything you need to know about the landing and taxiing dynamics of Concorde.

Teaching rating: Received a 20 (out of 24) for civil and environmental engineering, and for chemical engineering.

Research strengths: achieved top grade 5 in latest research assessment exercise in civil engineering, European studies and archaeology. Biomedical sciences, optometry and peace studies awarded a grade 4.

Financial health: Solvent. Prides itself on Yorkshire thrift.

Night-life: Fave student venues are the Commie (Communal Building) for students' union events, Pickwick's, and the Queen's Hall. The union's Steve Biko bar holds a Camra award. Good hot curries abound in local eateries.

Cheap to live in? Very. Cheap entertainment, cheap food, cheap accommodation. Rumoured to be cheapest university in the country. But students have larger- than-average overdrafts, so they must be having a good timen

Next week: Brighton University

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