A-Z of Higher Education Colleges: Bolton Institute of Higher Education

Age: 174, if you date it from the birth of the Bolton Mechanics Institute.

Incarnations: Three, maybe more. Mechanics Institute became Bolton College of Education (Technical) which merged with Bolton Institute of Technology to become Bolton Institute of Higher Education in 1982.

Address: Two campuses in and around Bolton, hotbed of the industrial revolution, and the centre of Britain's textile industry.

Ambience: Deane campus is the main one, five minutes from town centre, includes a former spinning mill (the refurbished Eagle site) and boasts a tall glass tower and other buildings dating from the Sixties. Houses business, science and technology, and newly converted student union building. Urban and bustling. Only grass is a stretch in front of the glass tower. Chadwick campus half a mile away is leafier, housing humanities, health, education, art and design.

Vital statistics: One of the biggest colleges of higher education in the country, it's a university in all but name. In fact, it has been trying to become a university for years but has so far been kept out. There are signs it may make it into the big league shortly. Has the power to award its own bachelors, masters and research degrees. Has 4,300 full-time and sandwich students, and 2,600 part-time and evening students. Plus 1,000 postgraduates and 500 overseas students. Takes more students over 21 than most institutions.

Added value: Bursaries for all full-time technology courses and full- time HND business and computing courses this year.

Easy to get into: The standard offer is 10 points, which means a C and a D at A-level. Psychology is more difficult: 14 points; two Cs and an E.

Glittering alumni: Graham Kilner, managing director of Parkman Transportation, major contracting civil engineers responsible for part of the new Lowry Centre in Manchester; Stephen Blyth, the poet who won the Gregory Award; Harry Tuley, chairman of Scapa Group (technical textiles manufacturers); Peter White, former director, Coates Viyella.

Transport links: Bolton Station is half a mile away with frequent connections to Manchester, Blackpool, Wigan and Blackburn. You can access the rest of the country via Manchester. The North West's motorway network is on the doorstep.

Who's the boss? Engineer Bob Oxtoby, retiring in December after 14 years. Being succeeded by Mollie Temple, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sunderland.

Teaching: Rated 15 out of 24 in theatre studies with a grade 1 for learning resources. That meant it failed and had to be re-assessed. A year later it passed the assessment, gaining 20 out of 24. Also rated 19 in modern languages and building, 20 in electrical and electronic, and civil engineering; 23 in textiles.

Research: It's the ultimate place to carry out research in textiles. Awarded a 3A rating in the research assessment exercise (the top grade is 5).

Financial health: In the red to pounds 128,000 in 1996-97, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook. Also in the red the year before that. Claims to be in the black now.

Nightlife: There are pubs on every corner. But the only cinema is Warner Bros, which is five miles away from the campus. The Students' Union venue runs two club nights every week, including Vodka Karaoke. Two student balls a year.

Cheap to live in? Self-catered room in hall of residence costs pounds 41 a week.

Buzzword: Bobbins (not up to much).

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