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Age: Named after Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, who called the first English parliament, but it doesn't claim to be that old. Could be 112, if you count its birth as Leicester Technical School. This year, however, it is celebrating the centenary of its foundation as Leicester Municipal Technical and Arts School.

How many lives? More than 20 at the last count. It has four centres on 10 campuses, many of which have joined the university through mergers. Key stages included Leicester Regional College of Art and Technology and Leicester Poly.

Address: All over the East Midlands. Main addresses are Bedford, Leicester, Lincolnshire and Milton Keynes.

Ambience: Depends on the location. Bedford, which specialises in sport and education, is known for its river and beer festivals; Leicester, with its three campuses, is big and multicultural, has the benefits of a city but the feel of a town; Lincoln - for students of agriculture, horticulture, art and design, conservation and fashion - is a cathedral city; and Milton Keynes is - well, Milton Keynes.

Vital statistics: One of the biggest universities, with 28,000 students. Boasts a wide range of vocationally relevant courses - more than 650 to choose from - and has a policy of encouraging mature students.

Easy to get into? Not too hard. Average entry is 14 points or a C and two Ds at A-level.

Added value: It was the first university to advertise on national television. Has a good reputation for graduate employment, living up to the ad campaign soundbite "preparation for life". Its library has a new extension with state-of-the-art electronic library facilities. Video-conferencing is available between each of the university's centres and with organisations around the world.

Glittering alumni: Charles Dance, the actor; Engelbert Humperdinck, crooner; Janet Reger, lingerie designer; Kendra Slawinski, champion netball player; David Wilson, chief executive of David Wilson Homes; Paul Burnell, former captain of Scottish rugby union team; John Deakin, international rowing cox; Brian Walker, former chairman of Oxfam and Live Aid; Liz Tilberis, former editor of Vogue.

Transport links: Good - by road, rail and air. If you're stuck anywhere, call the university's transport hotline.

Who's the boss? Professor Kenneth Barker, musician.

Teaching rating: Highly rated in business, engineering and the humanities. Also good in industrial/product/textile design, teacher training and sports education.

Research: Came 92nd out of 112 in the research assessment exercise. Its strengths lie in music and built environment, where it was awarded a grade 4. It scored a respectable 3a in politics and international studies, theology and fine art.

Financial health: Happily in the black.

Nightlife: Students' union in Leicester excels in this department. Reported to be John Peel's favourite student venue. Attracts some big names. Arena has state-of-the-art PA and is jumping when it's full - big stage, upper viewing area and an enormous bar.

Cheap to live in? Reasonable.

Buzz question: Does De Montfort have a campus on Mars yet?

Next week: Derby University.