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Age: 31 (as a university).

Incarnations: Has its roots in the Northampton Institute founded in 1894 in St John Street, Clerkenwell, east London, the site of today's main university building. The institute transformed itself into a College of Advanced Technology in 1957 when it became more nobby, confining itself to post-A-level students and increasing its emphasis on research and postgraduate work. Two years ago it gobbled up St Bartholomew's school of nursing and midwifery.

Address: Radical, inner-city, chic. Most of it is squeezed into the triangle formed by the Angel, Old Street and Barbican Tubes.

Ambience: Urban. The main Northampton Square site is in Islington, Sixties brick and concrete. It is not a campus, but most activity happens here. Business school and department of arts policy and management are in the Barbican; the school of nursing has two homes, one by Bart's Hospital, the other in Whitechapel.

Vital statistics: This is a university for the professions. Actuaries, accountants, lawyers, trading floor dealers, auditors, managers, engineers, midwives, nurses, radiographers and optometrists train here. Almost half the 8,057 students are postgraduates, the majority in the business school, health and social sciences and computer science. It has a famous postgraduate degree in journalism and conversion courses in law, enabling graduates in other subjects to switch to law after their first degrees.

Added value: Close links with the City of London help the business school in particular. The university has one of the highest post-study employment rates in the United Kingdom. Claims to take other universities' graduates and make them employable.

Easy to get into? Nope. For undergraduate courses such as journalism three Cs at A level are needed but law, business studies, economics and accountancy require three Bs.

Glittering alumni: Weatherman Michael Fish; conductor Charles Farnecombe; Michael Cassidy, immediate past chairman, policy and resources committee, Corporation of London; Stelios Haji-Iannou, chairman of EasyJet; Flt Lt Julie Ann Gibson, first woman RAF pilot; and Claire Makin, chief executive of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Transport links: Ace. Easily reached by bus and Tube.

Who's the boss? Professor Raoul Franklin, a plasma physicist and the longest-serving vice-chancellor.

Teaching: Rated excellent by the higher education funding council in business and management and music. Under the new grading system, gained top marks in civil engineering; electrical electronic and information engineering; mechanical engineering and aeronautics.

Research: Came 59th out of 112 in the research assessment exercise, meaning it was almost bottom of the heap of the "old" universities. Its strengths are in information science for which it got the highest grade, a 5*, and civil engineering and music for which it was awarded a 5. The university is the birthplace of City Technology, the most successful company to spring from academia - sold for pounds 20m.

Financial health: Claims to be fine.

Night-life: Students' union runs disco/bands on Fridays, films on Tuesdays and other entertainments during the week. Islington's pubs are a walk away and the West End not far.

Cheap to live in? No. This is London. All first years from outside London are guaranteed places in hall. But rents are high.

Buzz-word: Respect (black lingo for cool, uttered with clenched fist).

Next week: Coventry University