Education: a-z of universities Napier

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Age: Five as a university.

How many lives: Four. Started out as a technical college in 1964, merged with a college of commerce to become a poly. Metamorphosed into a university in 1992 when all the polys jumped into the big league.

Address: Edinburgh. Has four campuses in the south-west corner of that city plus 13 smaller sites dotted elsewhere. Two health studies outposts in Melrose (Sir Walter Scott country) and Livingston - in the heart of commuterland.

Ambience: The capital of Scotland is stunning, groaning with culture, heritage and entertainment. Also very beautiful with ethereal light, a castle and palace and thousands of pubs. One hell of a place to be a student. Main campus is a large modern block with the ancient Tower of Merchiston in the centre. That's where mathematician John Napier, inventor of logarithms, after whom the university is named, was born in 1550.

Vital statistics: As a new university Napier has been growing at a tearing pace. Particularly big in business management, bio-sciences, electronics, media studies, music, new materials, statistics and transport. Facilities were seriously overstretched until new campus opened. Has vocational work sewn up to a capital V. All students can sign up for CV-enhancing work experience or mosey down to the university's Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Added value: Strong links with business and industry mean good work placement opportunities and masses of industry input to course design.

Easy to get into? For law you need BBCC in Highers and three Cs at A level; for journalism four grade Bs in Highers or BCC at A level plus interview; for photography, film and TV, BBC or BCCC in Highers or BC at A level.

Glittering alumni: Radio 1 DJ Mark Goodier; photographer Colin Baxter; Hong Kong shipping tycoon Stephen Ho; Greg Kane of Hue and Cry; Chris Robinson, chairman of Hearts of Midlothian football club; BBC news correspondents Jane Franchi and Bill McFarlan; Gladiator "Siren" (alias Alison Paton).

Who's the boss? Professor John Mavor, former dean of science at Edinburgh University, famous for his collection of bow ties.

Transport links: Public buses take you from one site to another and into the city. Intersite buses are criticised for being too small and too infrequent. Bicycles are useful but, remember, Edinburgh is built on seven hills.

Teaching rating: All satisfactory or highly satisfactory under the Scottish higher education council system. Highly satisfactory are building, hospitality and tourism management, mass communication, cellular and molecular biology, organismal biology, civil engineering, chemistry, mathematics and statistics.

Research: 68th out of 101 in the 1996 research assessment exercise. The first new university in Scotland to gain a grade 4 (out of a maximum possible of 5) - for biological science.

Financial Health: In the black but plans to dip into borrowing to finance its new campus, Craighouse, located in an old Scottish baronial home on 67 acres atop one of Edinburgh's hills.

Night life: Most popular drinking hole on campus is Merchiston, known as "the Merkey" or "Bertie's Bar" run by the ebullient Bertie. Several wicked dance/retro nights held during the year, and that's about it.

Cheap to live in? Not the cheapest. Costs pounds 50.50p a week without food in university accommodation and about the same in the private sector.

Buzz-phrase: Ya' dancer (expression of euphoria)

Next week: Newcastle

Lucy Hodges

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