Education: A-Z of Universities - Surrey

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Age: 107, if you count from the birth of Battersea Polytechnic Institute; 32, if you date it from university status and its present Guildford site.

Incarnations: Three. Used to cater for the "poorer inhabitants" of London when it was a polytechnic institute. Became Battersea College of Technology in 1956, when it was designated a college of advanced technology. Elevated to university status in 1966.

Address: On the edge of the North Downs on a grassy hillside overlooking Guildford.

Ambience: Small to medium-sized campus university built of functional grey sandstone, which means there's a concrete effect. But that is softened by man-made lakes and landscape gardening. You can even spy the odd duck and goose. Close-knit vocationally-minded community. Most degrees last four years, one spent in work placements, often abroad.

Vital statistics: Traditionally strong in the sciences and technology, has recently expanded hugely in arts and social sciences. Student numbers doubled in the past four years to 8,800. All students are encouraged to enrol for a course at the relatively new European Language Centre. New engineering degrees have a language component. Research has been boosted by extending the centre for satellite engineering research. A university company, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, is Britain's only company launching micro-satellites.

Added Value: As a pioneer of sandwich degrees, 80 per cent of Surrey students do a professional training placement as part of their degree. Which means it has a regular spot near the top of the graduate employment league.

Easy to get into? For music and sound recording, ABB at A-level; for electronic and electrical engineering ABB; economics BBB; psychology BBC; languages BBC.

Glittering alumni: Robert Earl, restauranteur and founder of Planet Hollywood; Alec Issigonis, who designed the Mini; Jeremy Mogford, founder of Browns restaurants; David Varney, chief executive BG plc; Nabil Shaban, actor and founder of Greae Theatre.

Transport links: London 30 mins by road/train. Guildford Station is half- a-mile from campus. And it's 30 mins from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Who's the boss? Engineer and sailor Patrick Dowling, formerly head of civil engineering at Imperial College, who was involved in the design of the Thames Barrier.

Teaching: Rated 23 out of 24 in electrical engineering; 22 in civil engineering and materials technology; 21 for sociology; 20 for dance studies; 18 for modern languages and chemical engineering.

Research: Came 28th, tied with UEA, in the research assessment exercise. Awarded a tip-top 5* for electronic and electrical engineering; and a 5 for sociology and toxicology.

Financial health: In the black.

Nightlife: Students' union has regular Sunday night bands. Hot names include Finlay Quaye, Lightning Seeds and Ocean Colour Scene. Or you can try a nightclub in town e.g. Boganglez. Or hotfoot it to London. The university can be rather quiet when everyone is in London.

Cheap to live in? Private rents are around pounds 50 a week. University accommodation costs pounds 44 a week (self catering).

Buzzphrase: Havin' a bubble (Havin' a laugh).

Next week: Sussex University