Hull

A-Z OF UNIVERSITIES

Age: 70.

Incarnations: Two. Founded in 1927 as a college of London University, gained its independence in 1954.

Address: Main campus on north-western edge of the city. Second, smaller campus, to be the base of the new faculty of health, at Willerby on outskirts of the city.

Ambience: A red-brick university, it's cosy and astonishingly friendly. Cosiness cuts two ways: at first you feel at home; later you may want more edge. Human-scale campus. A buyer's market for student accommodation. And cheap beer. Students drink more beer than any other students in the country. Hull is an attractive city on the north bank of the Humber estuary, surrounded by unspoilt countryside and the coast. It is also flat, so you can cycle without having a heart attack. Main literary claim to fame: Philip Larkin was its librarian.

Added value: Has a reputation for good teaching. Innovative social-work training unit meant it won the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education. The Family Assessment and Support Unit is the only unit of its kind in the country.

Easy to get into? Some subjects easier than others. Grades BCC at A-level required for history; BBB-BCC for joint history; CCC for electronic engineering; CCC for Italian.

Glittering alumni: Deputy PM John Prescott; former Labour deputy leader Roy Hattersley; Sir Ron Dearing, education's Mr Fixit; movie-maker Tony Minghella, director of The English Patient; former Beirut hostage John McCarthy and his release campaigner Jill Morrell; top chef Nico Landenis; Labour MP Chris Mullin; poet Roger McGough.

Transport links: A bit remote. Road is best. M62 leads to the A1 or M1. Only one train a day to and from London King's Cross direct, otherwise change at Doncaster and York. Alternatively, fly from Humberside international airport across the river. If you want to escape for a naughty weekend, hop on a ferry to Amsterdam.

Who's the boss? High Tory Prof David Dilks, expert on the Second World War and British imperial history, former research assistant to Sir Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan.

Teaching rating: Drama received top marks - 24/24 in the Higher Education Council's quality assessment. American studies, 23; Hispanic studies, 24; Scandinavian studies, 19.

Research: Comes somewhere near the bottom of the league table for old universities. Its position in the 1996 research assessment exercise was 56 out of 101 (between Ulster and Aberyswyth). Great strength is history: achieved top grade 5.

Financial health: Claims to be in the black and to have healthy reserves. But reserves are not as good as they were: they have been raided to pay for early retirements and a voluntary severance scheme.

Nightlife: Because it is such a student-oriented city every nightclub has a student night serving ridiculously cheap beer and shorts. The Tower Club charges students 20p for a pint of beer and pounds 1 for a double short. The Students' Union has its own entertainment every Friday and Saturday night.

Cheap to live in? Dead cheap. A single room in a university student house is pounds 33 a week (no food); a shared room, pounds 28 a week; a single room with food, pounds 68 a week.

Buzzword: Cerk Kerla (Coca-Cola in Hull-speak)

Next week: Imperial College.

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