Education: A-Z of Higher Education Colleges - Edinburgh College of Art

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Age: 239.

History: Founded as the Drawing Academy by the trustees of the Edinburgh Board of Manufacturers in 1760. In the 19th century, the teaching of the board's Life Class merged with the Royal Institution. In 1821 it became known as the Edinburgh School of Arts, changing its name 30 years later to the Watt Institution and School of Arts.

Address: Fantastic location, right in the middle of the city, with a great view of Edinburgh castle.

Ambience: Close to almost anything - galleries, theatres, cinemas, shops, libraries, pubs, restaurants and Lothian Road, a rough-and-fun place to congregate. Main building is a glorious piece of neo-classicism, dominated by a beautifully-proportioned sculpture court indoors with a gallery - the main exhibition space.

Vital statistics: One of the largest and oldest art schools in Europe, it has 2,000 students in its two faculties of environmental studies and art and design. Offers a wide range of courses from drawing, painting, stained glass, ceramics, jewellery and fashion to architecture, landscape architecture, planning and housing. Combines traditional academic approach with new technologies and methodologies. Degrees are validated by Heriot- Watt University.

Added value: Tapestry, where the approach is contemporary with an emphasis on installation - you create a work for a big space.

Easy to get into? Minimum of three passes at Scottish Highers plus two standard grade passes, or two English A-level passes plus three GCSE passes. Portfolio needed for some degrees.

Glittering alumni: William Gillies, John Maxwell, Ann Redpath, all foremost Scottish painters, now dead. John Bellamy (alive) who painted Ian Botham; Elizabeth Blackadder, another artist; Sean Connery, who was an artist's model once upon a time.

Transport links: Easy to reach Edinburgh by air, road and rail, four- and-a-half hours from London by train. Once you're there, you can walk everywhere and public transport is good.

Who's the boss? Professor Alistair Rowan, an expert on British architectural history and an authority on the brothers Robert and James Adam, holds the silver medal of the Royal Society of Arts and is a Cavaliere of the Italian Order of Merit. Wow!

Teaching: Rated highly satisfactory in architecture, fine art, printmaking, sculpture and painting, graphic design and textile design. Scored 17 out of 24 in planning and landscape.

Research: Did better than 29 new universities in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Awarded 3a in art and design (top grade is 5).

Financial health: In the black after being in the red in 1994-95, according to Noble's Higher Education Financial Yearbook.

Nightlife: Student Union runs the Wee Red Bar, a legendary club venue and, every Saturday, The Egg, featuring northern soul, indie, new wave and soundtracks. In August you can feast on the Edinburgh Festival - anything from Macbeth in Japanese to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo - plus the Edinburgh fringe.

Cheap to live in? Costs pounds 40 a week in the college's Cowgate flats, or around pounds 45 for private rented accommodation.

Buzzword: It's canny (it's cool).

Next week: London Institute of Education.

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