A - Z of Universities: OXFORD BROOKES

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The Independent Online
Age: five or 133, depending when you start counting.

Incarnations: Founded last century as an art school. Added science and technology along the way. Went from Oxford Tech in 1956 to Oxford Poly in 1970 to university status in 1992.

Address: Two campuses - the main Gypsy Lane campus and Headington Hill Hall - perched atop Headington Hill. The third , mostly business and education, is at Wheatley, a 20-minute bus ride away. Fourth site , comprising nursing and midwifery, is at John Radcliffe Hospital and elsewhere. In the ether: www.brookes.ac.uk

Ambience: Surburban. Gypsy Lane site, home of the former Tech, is 11 acres of glass and concrete and not as bad as it sounds. Newest site is Headington Hill Hall, home of the late tycoon Robert Maxwell - a Victorian wedding-cake affair housing the students' union (inside what was Pergamon Press) and art, publishing and music (in the old stable block). HHH has a view onto the dreaming spires - if you can see them for the trees. Wheatley students are on the edge of a village.

Vital statistics: One of the poshest and highly rated of the new universities. Pleasant campus. Good parties. Plenty of social mix from privately educated to comp-educated. Pioneered the modular degree. Offers 50 subjects and a choice of 2,000 modules. All degrees done by continuous assessment i.e. no finals. Lots of women in senior positions. Big emphasis on teaching and learning.

Added value: Links with industry e.g. automotive engineering degree run with the region's motor-racing industry. Free, 24-hour, e-mail and internet access for all students. New, superbly equipped sports centre at Headington with astroturf pitch, multigym, sports hall and climbing wall. The university has big ambitions in five sports: rowing, basketball, climbing, hockey and rugby.

Easy to get in to? Access students form about 5 per cent of the intake. Average entry level is 14 points - a B and a C. But more difficult for law, marketing management, psychology, English and fine art.

Glittering alumni: the late Lord Nuffield, founder of Morris Motors; Adrian Reynard of Reynard racing cars; rugby players Tim Rodber and Andy Gomersall; Debra Shipley, Labour MP; Andrew Logan, creator of the Alternative Miss World.

Transport links: Coaches to London stop outside the Headington campuses 24 hours a day. Coaches also to Heathrow and Gatwick. Train station a bit of a schlepp - two miles away. Use your bike - but beware Headington Hill.

Who's the boss? Prof Graham Upton, an educational psychologist who arrived from Birmingham University last year. Labour peer Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, newly appointed to the board of The Independent, is its chancellor.

Teaching rating: Achieved 24 out of a maximum of 24 for planning; 23 for history of art; 23 for real estate management; 22 for French, Spanish and Italian; 21 for publishing and sociology; 20 for food science; 19 for German.

Research: Came 70 out of 101 in the research assessment exercise. History and history of art graded 4 (top grade is 5).

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Four bars on the campuses, three balls a year. Students' union runs the biggest venue in Oxford which hosted Radio One's Sound City.

Cheap to live in? Self-catered university rooms pounds 50 to pounds 60 a week. Private rooms without meals start at pounds 50 a week.

Buzzword: Sweetie (as in `hello sweetie')

Next week: Paisley.

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