Education: A-Z of Universities - York

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Age: 35

History: Child of Robbins (whose report led to mass expansion of universities in the late 60s) - such as Warwick, Essex, East Anglia, Sussex, Kent and Lancaster.

Address: Two sites: main one is one mile from the centre of York in the village of Heslington; the other is a medieval manor in the city.

Ambience: Largely concrete campus wrapped around a man-made lake, complete with ducks and geese and their droppings. The university has seven colleges. Most social science and arts departments are based in college; science departments have own premises. Best-known feature of Heslington campus is Central Hall, likened to Starship Enterprise.

Vital statistics: Highly rated for teaching and research, York is one of the most successful of the 1960s universities. Its policy of concentrating on a small number of large departments paid off e.g. biology (third largest biology dept. in the country). Total student population is 8,000 of whom one-quarter is postgraduate; 80 per cent from state schools.

Added value: Has introduced the York Award, where you study things like IT, languages, financial management and active citizenship - with the emphasis on applying skills through voluntary work and work placements. Strong links with industry in science departments eg with British Aerospace, Rolls Royce, Unilever, Glaxo Wellcome.

Easy to get into? No. You need ABB for English at A level, AAB for computer science, BBC for archaeology and music.

Glittering alumni: Tony Banks, minister for sport; Harriet Harman and Oona King, both Labour MPs; Harry Enfield, comedian; Jung Chang, author of Wild Swans; Christine Hamilton, Neil's loyal wife; Victor Lewis-Smith, writer and radio presenter; Genista McIntosh, executive director, National Theatre; John Witherow, editor of The Sunday Times; Denise O'Donoghue, managing director of Hat Trick Productions.

Who's the boss: Desert explorer Professor Ron Cooke who's been shot at three times on his travels and is one of the world's experts on building stone decay.

Teaching: Rated 21 out of a maximum of 24 for history of art; 22 for languages; 23 for sociology; 24 for electronics.

Research: Came 10th out of 101 in the 1996 research assessment exercise. Awarded tip-top 5* in computer science and psychology and a 5 in biology, economics, English, music, social policy and social work.

Financial health: In the black. Wishes to expand, particularly in research.

Nightlife: Plenty of pubs in Yorkshire but music venues a bit thin on the ground. Each college has a bar. Student union music is mostly local bands and cover acts, but the university lifted its blanket 12.30 curfew for entertainment in 1996 so things have got groovier.

Cheap to live in? Yes. University accommodation is pounds 38 a week without food (60 per cent of students live in university residences). Private rent is pounds 48.

Buzzword: Yorkies (former students)

This is the last entry in the A-Z of Universities guide which will be published as a compilation in response to reader demand.

Next week: The A to Z of colleges of higher education begins with Bath College of Higher Education.

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