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Age: a mature 30.

How many lives? Three. Its roots go back to 1883, when University College, Dundee, was founded with the daring purpose of "promoting the education of persons of both sexes". For the first seven years it was independent. In 1890 began a relationship, sometimes stormy, with the University of St Andrews. In 1954 changed its name to Queen's College, Dundee. In 1967 became the University of Dundee.

Address: Compact city-centre campus in a lovely spot overlooking the River Tay, with the Kingdom of Fife beyond and the glens of the Highlands behind. Medical school a couple of miles away at Ninewells Hospital, one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe. Some nursing and midwifery 30 miles away at modern Kirkcaldy campus, site of Fife College of Health Studies before recent merger.

Ambience: Five minutes' walk from the city's shops, theatres and galleries. It's a friendly campus in a city that's on the way up. New pounds 8m arts centre opens this year. Easy escape routes to the hills and the sea. Dundee claims to be Scotland's UniverCity, with more academics per head of population than elsewhere.

Vital statistics: Has doubled in size in the past five years. Merged with neighbouring Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in 1994. Last year absorbed two local nursing colleges. A traditional university, it takes two-thirds of its 9,500 students from Scotland.

Added value: Good employment record. New pounds 13m biomedical sciences research institute - The Wellcome Trust Building - to house 250 scientists researching diabetes, sleeping sickness and cancer. Only university to offer Scots law and English law. Together with the City of Discovery Campaign, the university has launched pounds 6,000 Dundee book prize for an unpublished novel set in Dundee.

Easy to get into? Not particularly, though it does offer access to those without traditional qualifications. Medicine demands five Highers (AAABB) or three A-levels (ABB). Physics demands Highers as follows: BBB/BBCC. English requires Highers at BBBC or A-levels BCC. Accountancy requires Highers ABBB/BBBBC.

Glittering alumni: Music promoter Stuart Clumpas, creator of the Strathclyde pop music festival "T in the Park"; photographer Albert Watson, responsible for 250 covers of Vogue, Rolling Stone and Prince Andrew and Fergie's wedding snaps; Whitbread Award winner Kate Atkinson ("Behind the Scenes at the Museum"); Stewart Campbell, international rugby player for Scotland; George Robertson, Shadow Scottish Secretary; Brian Wilson MP, founder of the West Highland Free Press.

Transport links: Five minutes from railway station. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen are all one-and-a-half hour's drive.

Who's the boss? Soil scientist Dr Ian J Graham-Bryce, formerly of Shell and chairman of the polar science and technology board of the Natural Environment Research Council.

Teaching rating: Excellent in accountancy and finance, graphic design and textile design.

Research: Came 44th out of 112 in the December research assessment exercise. Stellar performance in biochemistry which received top grade, a 5*. Civil engineering, computer science and art and design awarded 5s.

Financial Health: In good shape. The university received the biggest increase in funding from the Scottish higher education funding council of any Scottish university - up 8.5 per cent - because of its research performance.

Night-life: Students' association has four pubs and stages band nights three times a week.

Cheap to live? Yes. pounds 50 a week buys top-of-the-line self-catering accommodation, with double bed, telephone and computer points. pounds 30 buys a room in a private home.

Buzzword: Redcard ("Kindly stop what you're doing").

Next week: Durham University.