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a-z of universities: Loughborough

Age: 88

How many lives? Five. Began in 1909 as a small technical institute in Loughborough on the spot where Sainsbury's is today. Transformed itself into Loughborough College and then Loughborough College of Technology. Was designated a college of advanced technology in 1957. Became a university in 1966 following the Robbins report.

Address: One mile west of the town on a greenfield site.

Ambience: Sporty. This is the university for sporty types, but couch potatoes welcome too. Campus of 216 acres with low-rise buildings plus loads of playing fields and sports facilities. Students work hard and play hard. Which means they celebrate sporting achievements with hearty partying.

Vital statistics: Most popular subject areas are engineering, sciences and PE. University claims to be in the top 10 for graduate employment and to have a stellar careers service. Sandwich placements available on 80 per cent of degrees. Several fully-sponsored degrees. Students' union rag is top fundraiser of all UK universities. Phenomenal success in sport: they've won the British Universities Sports Association men's championships for the last 17 consecutive years and the women's for the last 19.

Added value: Has the UK's leading sports sponsorship programme offering 75 awards. Fantastic facilities: three sports halls, two gymnasia, dance studio, two swimming pools, seven squash courts, two floodlit all-weather areas, all-weather athletics stadium, acres of playing fields, the Dan Maskell tennis centre and a new fitness centre. Oh yes, and a physiotherapy clinic.

Easy to get into? Engineering requires BCC at A-level; industrial design and technology CCC; management sciences BBC; modern European studies BCC; PE and sports sciences BBB; psychology BBC; information and library studies BBC.

Glittering alumni: Javaid Aziz, European vice president of Silicon Graphics; Barry Hines, author; sports stars Steve Backley (javelin), Sebastian Coe (runner), David Moorcroft (runner), Paula Radcliffe (runner), Tanni Grey (Paralympic wheelchair athlete).

Transport links: Loughborough station two miles away. Junction 23 of M1 a mile away. Bus service through campus to town; cycle and pedestrian paths.

Who's the boss? Prof David Wallace, FRS, who was awarded CBE for services to parallel computing and is a keen sports fan. He ran the 1995 London marathon to raise money for his university's sudent sports foundation.

Teaching rating: Scored 23 out of a maximum of 24 in drama, social science, manufacturing engineering and aeronautical and automotive engineering and transport studies; 22 for chemical engineering and electrical engineering.

Research: Ranked 31 out of 101 in the research assessment exercise. Awarded top grade 5 in civil and building engineering, European studies, human sciences, information and library studies, physical education, sports science and recreation management, and social sciences.

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Nine bars on campus, three in halls, the rest in the union building. Particularly busy nights are Wednesday (after sporting exertions), Friday (disco night) and Saturday, which begins with comedy and ends with music. There are also two theatres.

Cheap to live in? Full board in a hall is pounds 64.70; self-catering is pounds 35 a week. Student accommodation has won a swanky seal of quality assurance.

Buzz-phrase: Purple Nasty (a mixture of cider, lager and blackcurrant).

Next week: LSE.