A-Z Of Universities: Ulster

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The Independent Online
Age: Thirty, if you count from when the New University of Ulster was born in 1968, or 14, from its merger with Ulster Poly.

History: Origins date from Magee College in Londonderry founded by a local philanthropist in 1865. Other constituent parts were tacked on later: the Belfast campus came into being when the art college was gobbled up by Ulster Poly in 1971. Jordanstown was formerly the campus of Ulster Poly.

Address: Four different sites spread out over Northern Ireland - up to 80 miles apart.

Ambience: Depends on campus. Belfast, housing art and design, is the smallest site. Derry site is attractive, just north of the walled city. Coleraine, the university's HQ, is a small, quiet market town a few miles from lovely Antrim coast with countryside all around. Jordanstown is the largest site and still expanding. Situated on the hills above Belfast, it has good views over the Lough.

Vital statistics: More than 21,000 students make it the biggest university in Ireland.

Added value: Links with further education colleges make for accessibility. And the university is about to announce a revolutionary new credit transfer system.

Easy to get into? For optometry you need AAB at A-level; for geography CDD; for engineering BCC.

Glittering alumni: Labour MP Kate Hoey; Gerry Anderson, radio presenter; Brian Friel, Eurovision songwriter; Brian Keenen, ex-hostage; Brian Robinson, Irish rugby player.

Transport links: Trains and coaches ply between Coleraine, Belfast and Derry. Flights go almost everywhere from Belfast International airport.

Who's the boss? Prof Trevor Smith, a fervent Lib Dem who was made a peer and is now Lib Dem education spokesman in the House of Lords.

Teaching: Rated 17 out of 24 for sociology; 18 for Iberian languages and studies; 19 for German and civil engineering; 20 for French and electrical and electronic engineering; 21 for land and property management, and communications and media; 22 for theatre studies and American studies.

Research: Came 55 out of 101 in the assessment exercise. Achieved tip- top 5* in biomedical sciences and a 5 in history.

Financial health: In the red for the last three years, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook. In 1996-97, the latest year for which figures are available, it was overdrawn by more than pounds 3.5m. Ulster disagrees.

Nightlife: Plenty of pubs in Derry. Social life for Coleraine students is in the seaside towns where they live. Jordanstone has three bars and its Assembly Hall.

Cheap to live in? Yes. Three-bed council house to rent for pounds 40 per week. Single room in hall costs pounds 34.16 a week. Private furnished lets are around pounds 300 a month for a three-bed house or flat.

Buzzword: What about ye? (How're you doing?)

Next week: UMIST

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