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Age: Five years as a university.

Incarnations: Six. Began life as South Wales and Monmouthshire school of mines. In 1949 became Glamorgan technical college, nine years later Glamorgan college of technology, in 1970 became Glamorgan Polytechnic and in 1975 the Polytechnic of Wales.

Address: In the valleys of South Wales on the outskirts of Pontypridd, a busy market town between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff.

Ambience: Main campus is in the village of Treforest (Tom Jones's green, green grass of home) on a hillside commanding views of the valley and hills opposite. Glyntaff campus, containing law school, one mile away. Treforest is easily reached by valley line train. Cardiff is a 20-minute train ride. Friendly atmosphere.

Vital statistics: 15,000 students come for modular degree system which means they can design their own study programmes. They come too for the student support - modern learning resources centre, en-suite campus accommodation and top-rated sports facilities. Good new halls of residence mean that approx. 1,300 students can find a room on campus. University is famous for its mix of students from Wales and around the world.

Added value: Floodlit sports fields, tennis courts, recreation centre with squash/badminton courts, multi-gym, trimnasium, conditioning room, sauna, solarium, climbing wall. Offers students what it calls a rounded experience - modules in career development, skills and communication have been included in course portfolios. Proud of its employment record. Glamorgan graduates were cited in a November 1996 report by the Higher Education Statistics Agency as having a better than average chance of getting jobs.

Easy to get into? Yes. Access is important to this former polytechnic. Some enter through A levels; others via access courses. The university has developed a huge range of courses to accommodate all comers.

Glittering alumni: Welsh rugby players, Rupert Moon, Aled Williams and Nigel Davies; and Cliff Morgan, broadcaster and professional Welshman.

Transport links: Situated on the M4 corridor with its own railway station.

Teaching rating: Rated excellent for business, creative writing, electronics and IT, minerals surveying and theatre and media drama.

Research: Definitely no ivory tower. Came 75th, tied with Liverpool John Moores, in the research assessment exercise. Prefers to concentrate on applied research, working with companies on real projects.

Financial health: Rising applications have meant pretty healthy finances.

Who's the boss: Professor Adrian Webb, member of the Dearing committee and social policy boffin whose great passion is the latest buzzphrase, lifelong learning. In his spare time he watches birds, paints watercolours and walks.

Night life: Students go to Cardiff for the bright lights. Also to Treforest and Pontypridd for pubs. Newly refurbished student union on campus houses the George Knox pub, Smiths Cafe Bar and Shafts nightclub. Shafts is open every night with a range of live bands, discos, cabarets and films. Perhaps the best annual ball in the country (Dodgy, Space, Divine Comedy, Tony deVit in 1997).

Cheap to live in? Yes. One of the best value universities in the UK. pounds 35 for a private room off campus, pounds 35-pounds 45 for self catering on campus.

Buzzword: blinding (general term of approbation). Next week: Glasgow Caledonian