Education: A-Z OF UNIVERSITIES: Cranfield

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The Independent Online
Age: 51.

Incarnations: Three. Founded as the first postgraduate college of aeronautics after the Second World War on the site of RAF Cranfield. Then became Cranfield Institute of Technology, and finally Cranfield University, in 1993.

Address: Is on three sites: Cranfield, in Bedfordshire, which houses management students; Silsoe, also in Bedfordshire, which is an agricultural college; and the military college of science, at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire.

Ambience: All sites are in beautiful, rural locations, and are surrounded by thatched cottages. Planes buzz over the Cranfield campus. It's the only UK university with its own airfield.

Vital statistics: A largely postgraduate university, it has 2,238 postgrad and 747 undergrad students, the latter in agriculture and defence and related studies. Broad study areas include aeronautical engineering, biotechnology, business studies, marine technology, mechanical and production engineering, manufacturing, metallurgy and materials science. Average age of students is 28. Of the students, 437 come from non-EU countries. The agricultural college takes students from 58 countries including Albania, Bulgaria, Indonesia, India, Mauritius, Swaziland and Turkey. In Africa, Silsoe is the most famous English village after Ambridge.

Added value: Excels at finding work for its graduates, 99.6 per cent of whom go straight into jobs. The secret is that many students are doing research for top firms while at Cranfield. When they graduate they're hired by those firms. The university has its own sewage works - which is why its graduates are hired by water companies.

Easy to get into? No. The place is unashamedly elitist. MBA students need five years in industry. Other postgraduates usually require a first- or second-class honours degree.

Glittering alumni: John Fozard, who designed the Harrier jump jet; David Hyde, director of safety, security and the environment, British Airways; Rear Admiral Monk; Air Marshal Richardson; Air Commodore FE Tyndall, director of signals, MOD.

Transport links: Ideally, you need a car, but you can, of course, fly. Cranfield campus is one hour from London up the M1 between junctions 13 and 14. Alternatively you can take the train and a shuttle bus to Milton Keynes.

Who's the boss? Chemist Prof Frank Hartley, son of Prof Sir Frank Hartley, former vice-chancellor of London University. Frank Jnr advised the Japanese how to deal with the poisoning on their Tube trains in Tokyo. He's a fitness fanatic. Ran with Chris Chataway in local 10 km run.

Teaching: Has received excellent ratings in mechanical engineering, management and agriculture.

Research: In the latest assessment exercise got a 5 (top grade) in mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering including materials, a 4 in biology and engineering at Shrivenham and in business and management, and a 3a in agriculture.

Financial health: Excellent. Earns more from research than Oxford and Cambridge combined - pounds 13.4m last year.

Night-life: Quiet. Students go to Cranfield to work. Those who want to rave make for the bright lights of Milton Keynes, Bedford or Swindon.

Cheap to live in? Not particularly. But then there aren't many distractions.

Buzz-phrase: I'm flying (I'm over the moon).

Next week: De Montfort