Education: A-Z of Higher Education Colleges - Chester

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Age: 159.

History: Established by Gladstone as the first teacher training college in the country with a Church of England foundation. (Gladstone wrote the deeds under which the college still operates.) It diversified into arts and sciences in the Seventies, and into nursing in the Nineties.

Address: 32-acre campus five minutes walk from the centre of the walled city of Chester, and 25 miles from Liverpool.

Ambience: Mix of Victorian and modern buildings, including divine 19th century chapel, complete with a couple of Old Masters. Strong community atmosphere, because so many students live so close. All facilities on the one campus, including new pounds 1.1m sports hall, student village and halls of residence. One hall is in the city centre.

Vital statistics: A medium-sized college of higher education, it has 3,000 students, 19 per cent on teacher training courses. Many of the students are local, and one-quarter are over 21 on entry. Overwhelming majority - 73 per cent - are women, as you would expect given the numbers on nursing, midwifery and education courses. Degrees are validated by Liverpool University, although the college has applied for degree awarding powers.

Added value: Good reputation in sport, because of strong PE department. Sports facilities include squash courts, gymnasia, swimming pool, tennis courts, all-weather pitch and grass pitches - and the new sports hall.

Easy to get into? More difficult in popular subjects; for example, sports science, English, drama and psychology. On average there are 9.4 applicants for each place. Minimum offer for art is CC at A-level, or 12 points, but last year, average points score of students arriving was 19+. Highly selective for teacher training.

Glittering alumni: John Carleton and Jon Sleightholme, English rugby internationals; Carol Lewis, assistant governor of a young offenders' institution; Walter Winterbottom, England's longest serving football manager; Jim Bowen, former school teacher, now TV entertainer; Rob Wolton, Capital Radio presenter.

Transport links: Good motorway connections to Manchester, Liverpool and North Wales. Or take the bus or train.

Who's the boss? Professor Tim Wheeler, formerly the acting director of Southampton Institute, an expert in applied psychology, especially dyslexia.

Teaching: Scored 17 out of 24 in drama, dance and cinematics; 19 in modern languages; 20 in psychology. Rated sound to good by Ofsted in its sweep of primary teacher training. Did better in inspections of secondary teacher training - rated good to very good in drama, maths and PE.

Financial health: Claims to be in the black.

Nightlife: College social life centres on the campus bar. Otherwise, there are three nightclubs in Chester with student-only nights. Three balls a year.

Cheap to live in? Yes. You pay pounds 65 for en suite room with 21 meals a week. Self-catering in college and private landlords, pounds 35-pounds 40 a week.

Buzzword: "Deva Mile" (22 pubs visited in one night as part of rag week).

Next week: Chichester.

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