A-Z of Higher Education Colleges: King Alfred's College, Winchester

Age: 159

History: Named after King Alfred who burned the cakes; founded by the Church of England to train teachers for church schools. Moved to its present site - a gift from the dean and chapter of Winchester Cathedral - in 1862.

Address: Main campus on a hill above Winchester.

Ambience: Ten-minute walk from Winchester, with lovely views of the rolling countryside. Close-knit atmosphere. Students and staff get to know one another. Main building was put up in the 1860s and is of grey stone with mullioned windows. The Victorian chapel was restored recently. Other buildings have been erected over the years, including the IT centre last year, and the new library is to be completed by December 1999. West Downs student village won good architecture award.

Vital statistics: Though originally a teacher-training college, it has diversified to include a range of arts and humanities degrees from American studies and tourism to heritage management, media and film studies. Has 3,000 full-time and 2,000 part-time students, 450 of whom are postgraduates. Around 1,000 of the full-timers are on initial teacher-training programmes; one-third are over 30; three-quarters are female. Degrees are validated by Southampton University. College is in the process of applying for its own degree-awarding powers. Limited sports facilities.

Added value: Annual archaeological dig in Shapwick, Somerset, led by Mick Aston, leader of Channel 4's archaeology programme Time Team, and King Alfred's Chris Gerrard.

Easy to get into? You need 14 A-level points (CCE) for most subjects. Applicants with GNVQs and BTEC welcome.

Glittering alumni: Martin Bashir, who conducted the Panorama interview with Princess Diana and the Tonight interview with the Stephen Lawrence Five ; John McIntyre, BBC news reporter; Nick Joseph, up-and-coming playwright; Margaret Cox, of Channel 4's Time Team.

Transport links: The M3 is on the doorstep and London is 64 miles away. Good train service to Waterloo and elsewhere. Walking is best for getting about Winchester. Bikes are hard work because of all the hills.

Who's the boss? Prof John Dickinson, accounting and finance boffin, and a committed Trekkie.

Teaching: Scored 18 (top is 24) for American studies, and media and film studies; 19 for drama/ performing arts; 20 for Japanese. Rated good in Ofsted's primary teacher training sweep. Fell down in secondary teacher training, design and technology, where it received a poor grade in one cell and had to be re-inspected. Has now stopped training in this subject.

Research: Beat two new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Also achieved a 3b for history (top grade is 5) - its best grade.

Financial health: In the black, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook.

Nightlife: Active students' union, which means theme nights and special promotions take place most nights in the student union bar. Winchester groans with pubs - and restaurants. Clubbers make for bright lights in Southampton and Bournemouth. There are regular productions at the campus John Stripe Theatre.

Cheap to live in? Standard room (no food) pounds 57. Rents in the private sector are pounds 55-75.

Buzz-assignation: Meet you in Alfie's Castle after my TP. (Meet you in the union bar after my teaching practice.)

Next week: Liverpool Hope

Lucy Hodges

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