A-Z of Higher Education Colleges: Chichester Institute

Age: 160.

History: Earliest incarnation was as Bishop Otter College, Chichester, founded in 1839 to train schoolmasters. That merged in 1977 with Bognor Regis Emergency Training College, set up in 1946 to train soldiers for service in schools.

Address: Two sites. HQ, sports studies, performing arts and humanities is in Chichester; teacher training in Bognor.

Ambience: Quiet coastal setting close to South Downs and lovely countryside. Heaven for water sports fanatics. Bognor campus has three listed buildings put up in 1792 to attract the Prince Regent, future George IV, plus some Sixties' boxes. Chichester has an Oxford college-style campus with Sixties' additions.

Vital statistics: Small college with 2,800 full-time and 1,200 part-time students. One-third are over 21 on entry. One-quarter are training to teach. Male-female ratio is 40:60. Strong links with further education colleges in West Sussex.

Easy to get into? You need BCC at A-level in sports science and performing arts; CC for teacher education. Two A-level passes in other areas. Students without A-levels come via access courses from local further education colleges.

Glittering alumni: Mark Lofthouse, director of continuing professional development at Homerton College, Cambridge.

Transport links: It's easy enough to get from Chichester to Bognor on the free Institute bus. But anything further afield is a problem. Direct train from London Victoria to Chichester and Bognor takes two hours and stops at every lamp post after Gatwick. No good roads north. Coastal road is OK, but to reach London you need to drive to Brighton or Portsmouth first.

Added value: Hot on sport and singing. Excels at men and women's rugby and in cycling and judo. The Institute reached the final of the Middlesex Rugby Sevens at Twickenham in 1998. This year the soccer team will play in the European universities knock-out cup in Antwerp.

Who's the boss? Sociologist Philip Robinson, passionate advocate of lifelong learning and rugby fan.

Teaching: Rated 24 out of 24 for degree in media studies; 19 for dance. Rated good for teacher training in Ofsted's primary sweep 1995-96; did better in 1998. Very good to good in English secondary teacher training, good in history, good to adequate in PE.

Research: Did better than 11 new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise.

Financial health: In the red to the tune of pounds 936,000 in 1996-97, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook. Institute says this is a paper loss owing to revaluation of Bognor Regis site.

Nightlife: Quiet at weekends when ravers head for London, Brighton and Portsmouth. Big night is on sports day, Wednesday. One student bar on each campus.

Cheap to live in? pounds 45 for a room in college plus pounds 30 for food. Rooms in private sector cost around pounds 50 in Chichester, pounds 40 in Bognor.

Buzz-exhortation: Come on Wishy! (What you shout at the rugby team - Chichester used to be West Sussex Institute of Higher Education.)

Next week: Cumbria College of Art and Design.

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