A-Z of universities: London Guildhall

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Age: 149

Incarnations: Four minimum. Started in 1848 as the Metropolitan Evening Classes for Young Men. Matured into City of London College. Joined with Sir John Cass College and King Edward VII Nautical College in 1970 to become City of London Polytechnic. Reborn as London Guildhall University in 1992.

Why Guildhall? Because of posh friends in the City who give prizes, bursaries, expertise and work placements to students. But don't kid yourself that any of this leads to jobs. The City has a dismal record of recruiting students from new universities.

Address: Aldgate, Aldgate East, Moorgate and Tower Hill (sounds like a bunch of Tube stations ... They are - Ed), ie the Square Mile.

Ambience: Dispersed campus on six sites - most the product of concrete- mixers. Moorgate, housing business, economics, financial services and law, is an elegant grey and one of the least offensive. Calcutta House, containing social sciences, is an old tea warehouse. Unpretentious, friendly atmosphere.

Vital statistics: One of the universities in financial trouble; there have been long-standing questions about its future. Merger talks have been and gone, but the university is still with us. Specialises in degrees for the City and professional exams, eg banking, taxation, insurance, law, marketing and pensions, as well as other popular subjects in the social sciences - psychology, politics, history and languages. No science or technology. More than 40 per cent of students are black or Asian.

Added value: Home to the Fawcett Library (books on women). First Masters degree in financial services regulation.

Easy to get into? For LLB in business law, A-level grades required are BCC; for musical instrument technology, two Cs; for sociology, CDD.

Glittering alumni: Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown's engaging spin doctor; Labour MPs Graham Allen and Kate Hoey; singer Alison Moyet; Spyros Kyprianou, Cyprus's former president, now president of the Cypriot House of Representatives; Wee Choo Keong, MP of Central Kuala Lumpur; Sonya Madden, lead singer of Echobelly; Vic Reeves, entertainer; Chris Jarvis, children's BBC presenter; Nick Leeson (professional banking exams); Mark Thatcher.

Transport links: Tube stations on the doorstep as well as buses and black cabs, if you can run to the fares. Cycling improving as more cycle routes appear.

Who's the boss? Bike-riding economic historian Roderick Floud, 55, whose latest book is The People and the British Economy 1830-1914.

Teaching rating: Rated 19 out of a maximum of 24 in languages, 17 in sociology, and 17 in communications.

Research: Came 92 out of 101 in the research assessment exercise. Achieved its highest grade - a 4 - in history (maximum grade is 5).

Financial health: Has been in the red in each of the past three years, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook. But claims it is now on the road to financial recovery, thanks to restructuring and redundancies recommended by wizards at Coopers & Lybrand.

Night-life: Three bars on campus are well used because of the expense of other venues close by. Two movies a week. Sub Bar hosts three club nights a week and the odd band. Good selection of comics. More than three balls a year.

Cheap to live in? Nope. Neighbouring wine bars, theme pubs and sandwich shops are extremely expensive. Visit Petticoat Lane or Brick Lane for sane prices. Rents are sky high. Only 461 places in university accommodation: with food pounds 65 a week; self-catering pounds 45-pounds 54.

Buzz-phrase: Leg it (go away)

Lucy Hodges

Next week: The London Institute.