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Age: 546.

Address: Compact campus in the trendy West End of Scotland's biggest city. Main building, designed in fake Gothic style by Sir George Gilbert Scott, is a black and sinister edifice - Gotham rather than Gothic, but one of the city's best known landmarks. Faculty of medicine is four miles away on a parkland site.

Ambience: This part of Glasgow, with its Victorian Italian Renaissance architecture and leafy streets, is bustling and stylish, with the university at its centre. Cosmopolitan and ever-fashionable Byres Road is almost an extension of the campus.

Vital statistics: One of the oldest universities in the UK, with a global reputation for research. One of the four UK universities in Universitas 21 - a new, elite international association of research-based institutions. Strong on science and engineering. Claims to have more students on science- based courses than any outside London. Famous, too, for medicine and veterinary medicine. Recruits almost half its students from the west of Scotland. Others come from all over the world. Places in halls of residence for all out-of-town freshers. All students on e-mail.

Added value: Excellent sports facilities, including newly upgraded pounds 5m sports centre, complete with swimming-pool. New outdoor facilities being developed. Brand new theatre, film and TV centre containing rehearsal space and a production suite. Thriving student newspaper, radio and TV station.

Easy to get into? No. Medicine requires AAAAB at highers (AAB at A-level). Ditto dentistry, veterinary medicine and law. Arts and sciences require BBBB at highers (BBC at

A-level). Science and engineering less tough.

Glittering alumni: Politicians Donald Dewar, Scottish Secretary; the late Labour leader John Smith; Sir Teddy Taylor; Charles Kennedy; Menzies Campbell and Margaret and Winnie Ewing; writers John Buchan, William Boyd, AJ Cronin, Alistair MacLean, Helen MacInnes; businessmen Sir Thomas Risk and Sir James Blyth; chief medical officer Professor Sir Kenneth Calman; journalist Andrew Neil; plus Adam Smith, the late RD Laing and John Logie Baird, the man who invented television.

Transport links: Good bus and underground service in the city. Two railway stations. Glasgow International airport seven miles away.

Who's the boss? New Zealander Professor Sir Graeme Davies, an engineer and former head of the English higher education funding council. Previously vice-chancellor of Liverpool University.

Teaching ratings: Almost without exception all subjects rated excellent or highly satisfactory.

Research: Came 34th out of 101 in the latest research assessment exercise. Achieved top grade 5 in biochemistry, electronics and electrical engineering, molecular genetics, politics, Russian and East European studies. Another two departments reached tip-top grade 5* in computing science and urban studies.

Financial health: Could be better. Was chopped by 8.5 per cent as a result of the research assessment exercise, with an overall cut of almost 1 per cent in its annual grant from the Scottish higher education council.

Night-life: Lively. The university has two student unions competing furiously with one another, which means two union night clubs. Plus two night-clubs in the West End and more in the city centre.

Cheap to live in? University accommodation with full board, pounds 40 to pounds 60 a week; without food, pounds 30 to pounds 40 a week. Private sector, pounds 40 for self- catering.

Buzz-word: rixon (student hack, named after a student who served on numerous committees and executives of unions).

Next week: Goldsmiths College.