Incarnations? Four. Founded in 1841 as a mechanics' institute - the Young Men's Mental Improvement Society - by a philanthropic textile magnate. Became a technical college, then a poly, then a university.
Address: Compact Queensgate campus in the middle of town; teacher training at Holly Bank, two miles into the suburbs; a student village five miles away houses students and feeds them.
Ambience: Main site is in the centre of this old wool town close to main shopping area. Buildings are a mix of old and new, including several mill conversions. Lovely views of the Pennine foothills. River Colne runs through town.
Vital statistics: More than 14,000 full- and part-time students. Boasts a higher-than-average record for graduate employability. One of the top universities for sandwich courses. Sports facilities are limited, with sports hall and fitness centre on campus and playing fields a hike away. But a municipal sports hall with Olympic-standard facilities is widely used via passport discount scheme. Halls of residence of variable quality. Almost all first-years get places. Private accommodation is improving. Library overstretched, but open at weekends.
Added value: Hosts annual contemporary music festival. European study opportunities through formal exchange with three universities/colleges in Denmark and France. Pleasant accommodation in the student village, Storthes Hall Park.
Easy to get into? Yes, though it depends on the subject. Three Cs at A-level required for European logistics management, behavioural sciences, computing and mathematics.
Glittering alumni: Education Secretary David Blunkett, who learnt how to teach at the university's Holly Bank campus; Labour MPs Judith Church (Dagenham) and David Hinchliffe (Wakefield); actor Gordon Kay ('Allo, 'Allo), Patrick Stewart (aka Jean Luc Picard in Star Trek; Debbie Currie, daughter of Edwina.
Transport links: Queensgate campus within walking distance of bus and railway stations. The town boasts John Betjeman's favourite train station. Subsidised bus service to student village. Free buses every 25 minutes. M62 is three miles to the north, M1 is five miles to the west.
Who's the boss? Geographer John Tarrant, formerly pro-vice-chancellor at the University of East Anglia, took over from Kenneth Durrands, ousted after "fat cat" salary allegations.
Teaching rating: Excellent in music and social sciences. Awarded 15 out of a maximum of 24 points in German, French, Italian and Iberian languages last year by the Higher Education Funding Council.
Research: Came 87th out of 101 in the research assessment exercise, tied with Kingston. Scored a creditable 4 (out of a maximum of 5) in music and social work.
Financial health: Pretty good. Total reserves pounds 54m; operating surplus pounds 70m.
Night-life: Students' Union has two bars and provides a variety of entertainment in its nightclub, Eden. The town has student club nights which vary in popularity. One mainstream cinema plus theatre. Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are within easy reach for more night-life.
Cheap to live in? Yes. Weekly rents in university accommodation range from pounds 31 to pounds 50 without food. In the private sector students pay pounds 32 to pounds 35. Pub food and takeaways are generous and cheap.
Buzz-word: teacake (Yorkshire for bread roll or sandwich) n
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