Education: A-Z of Universities: Cardiff

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The Independent Online
Age: 114

How many lives? Three. Started out as University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, then became University College Cardiff, and finally University of Wales Cardiff after a merger in 1988 with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.

Address: In the heart of one of Europe's youngest capital cities and one of Britain's six "cities of elegance".

Ambience: The university campus is a mix of grand old buildings and red-brick shoeboxes, as well as the most modern engineering complex in the British university system, opened by the Queen in 1992. Housed partly in Cardiff's civic centre. The city is cosmopolitan in character with wide, tree-lined avenues and extensive parkland. Close to coastline and mountains for those who need rural escape. Halls of residence are within easy walking/cycling distance of the campus and city centre.

Vital statistics: The largest constituent of the federal university of Wales. Has the biggest and best students' union in the United Kingdom. The union sends out a mass of information in its freshers' pack and the university guarantees to house all conditional-entry students in one of its 4,700 student residences (most of which are en suite).

Easy to get into? Not particularly. Average A-level grades required: just above two Bs and a C, but higher if you want to study law, psychology, pharmacy, English, European studies or architecture.

Added value: Good for sport. Facilities include Astroturf pitch, acres of playing fields, up-to-date sports centre, national swimming pool and dry ski slope. Good, too, for English, which continues to lead the way in critical theory. Language, transport and some science courses offer a year abroad or in industry. National stadium is a focal point for rugby fans. The university is one of the few in the country to have its own student employment agency, Unistaff, which puts pounds 4,500 into students' pockets each week.

Glittering alumni: Neil Kinnock, EU Transport Commissioner; Glenys Kinnock, MEP; Sian Phillips, actress; Philip Madoc, actor; Bernice Rubens, Booker Prize winner; Sian Lloyd, weather presenter; Sir Graham Day, British Aerospace chairman; Richey Edwards, missing songwriter/guitarist from Welsh rock band Manic Street Preachers.

Transport links: Good road and rail links. London is two hours by train, Manchester three hours, Swansea one hour, Bristol 45 minutes. Road access to and from England is via the scenic M50 and there is a choice of two bridges over the Severn Estuary.

Who's the boss? Professor Brian Smith, former master of St Catherine's College, Oxford, and a mountain climber, whose research interests include the physiology of deep-sea diving.

Teaching rating: Highly rated.

Research strengths: Ranked 16th out of 102 in the latest research assessment exercise. Twelve areas - about half - achieved top grade 5.

Financial health: Claimed to be very healthy.

Nightlife: Good union facilities, seven bars, a 1,600-capacity nightclub and 3,000-capacity concert venue.

Buzz-phrase: Sori, dwi ddim yn siarad Cymraeg (Sorry, I don't speak Welsh).

Cheap to live in? Relatively.

Next week: University of Central England