Front of Barking and Dagenham College / Barking & Dagenham College


History: Originally called Rush Green College, it had two separate sites which merged in 1993 and became independent of the local borough in 1997. Famous visitors to the college have included Dudley Moore, Rod Stewart, Tom Pickard and Gordon Brown.

Address: Romford, Essex. The college is located on the eastern boundary of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham in Rush Green, north of the River Thames. It is a twenty minute walk from Romford town centre.

Ambience: A further education college serving and representing the local community with a wide range of vocational courses and training opportunities. The college is set within several acres of open, green space and includes a large playing field for sports and recreation.

Who's the boss? Cathy Walsh is principal and chief executive. She has worked in primary, secondary and further education as well as in the private sector.

Prospectus: 020 8090 3020 or order a course guide online here.

UCAS code: B11

What you need to know

Easy to get into? It varies depending on the course and level applied for. Courses in plumbing, performing arts, graphic design and electrical installation are extremely popular so early applications are advised.

Foundation Degrees: Photography, animation & creative video, 3D design and graphic design.

Vital statistics: Around 11,00 students; 7,500 part-time. Much of the college's curriculum is vocational. Higher education courses include HNCs and HNDs, foundation degrees, and an MBA 'top up' degree in management.

Added value: Extensive individual learning support services such as one-on-one tuition to assist learners with reading, maths, dyslexia or mobility for example. Offers a range of short courses such as music lessons, cookery classes and nail art tutorials. The school of performing arts is located in the multi-million pound Broadway Theatre in the centre of Barking, which has a state-of-the-art 350-seat auditorium, specialist rehearsal rooms, a music technology studio and recording studio. A multi-million pound Science Technology Engineering & Maths (STEM) centre is currently under construction on the main campus and is due for completion in time for September 2013.

Teaching: In 2007, Ofsted inspectors judged the college to be “excellent in meeting local needs and ensuring that provision is readily accessible to all learners”.

Any accommodation? None provided by the college.

Cheap to live there? From £60 to £110 per week for a privately rented room in the area.

Transport links: Barking is easily reached from the A12, the A13 and the A406. The college is situated between Romford train station and Dagenham East tube. Plenty of buses nearby.

Fees: Completely dependent on course, with some courses available for free if certain criteria are met. Get in touch with the college for details or check out the website here.

Bursaries: Means-tested benefits are available depending on your eligibility. See the college's section on financial support here. A new photography award, the Barking & Dagenham College and Le Studio Rouchon Scholarship starts this year and will allow the recipient to complete a two month internship at the leading Le Studio Rouchon in Paris.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Located close to Romford town centre and its busy nightlife. Close to rail links (overground and underground) straight into the heart of London.

Price of a pint: Being on the outskirts of London, drinks aren't cheap but head to chain bars or student club nights for more appealing deals.

Sporting reputation: No entry in the BUCS league but you can enjoy a wide range of sport and recreation facilities, including an on-campus gym and fitness centre offering cardiovascular, free weight and resistance equipment, plus a large sports hall, basketball course and dance studio.

Glittering alumni: Actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste; actor Idris Elba; singer and stage star Shaun Escoffery, actor Rasaak Adoti; model Penny Lancaster (Mrs Rod Stewart); actor Russell Tovey; newspaper columnist and producer Victor Lewis-Smith.