Victoria building of Blackburn College / Benkid 77


History: Built in 1888 for the training needs of employers such as mill-owners, with a strong emphasis on engineering and textiles. In 1984 the college began providing courses for A-level and GCSE candidates.

Address: A large town centre campus situated on Feilden Street, Blackburn.

Ambience: The multicultural population in Blackburn is reflected in the student culture. Many mature and part-time students who study whilst working. Large, bright campus but classes are small. The college has won awards for its excellent support service for students with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Who's the boss? Principal Ian Clinton.

Prospectus: 01254 292 929; alternatively have a look at their prospectus here.

UCAS code: B40


Easy to get into? Entry requirements vary widely - check their website for more details. The college likes to meet students face to face so they can discuss individual requirements.

Foundation degrees: More than 30 available, including complementary medicine, public service management, fire and rescue service management, and journalism.

Vital statistics: Over 15,000 students. The University Centre at Blackburn College has over 3,300 students studying on a wide range of programmes – it provides around 75 per cent of all higher education in east Lancashire. These numbers are due to grow in the coming years with the opening of the new £14m University Centre with five academic schools offering 120 degrees, HNC/HNDs and postgraduate courses. It is an associate college of Lancaster University, which validates most of the degrees on offer. Other degrees are validated by Glamorgan University and the University of Central Lancashire.

Added value: The £14m University Centre opened in September 2010, and includes dedicated classroom space for higher education students, as well as a bar, students' union and restaurant. Links locally, nationally and overseas with business, partners and other colleges and schools.

Teaching: In 2008, OFSTED rated the college as Outstanding – the first college in the area to be rated this by OFSTED. It has also recently gained Training Quality Standard and successfully validated several courses.

Any accommodation? Single rooms are available at College House, within walking distance of the campus, for £80/90 a week. Alternatively you can stay with a host family for £80/120 per week.

Cheap to live there? Privately rented flats worked out at around £70 to £80 a week last year.

Transport links: Trains to Manchester Victoria take 45 minutes, coaches to London take five-and-a-half hours. Drivers from north, south and west would approach from junction 31 off the M6, then via the A677.

Fees: Those starting in 2012 will pay £7,000 per year.

Bursaries: The university offers bursaries to eligible students paying full tuition fees. All full-time students receive a bursay of £1,000 three times a year. For more details visit the website.


Nightlife: Blackburn pioneered the late licence laws when MP Jack Straw was home secretary, so its many town centre pubs stay open until 2am. King George's Hall regularly features top names in show business and the college sometimes puts on last-minute free ‘secret gigs’ for students. There are a range of cafés, bars and pubs close to the college, many offering student offers and discounts.

Sporting reputation: From September 2014 new facilities are due to open, including sports halls and a gym.

How green is it? Very, if it practises what it preaches. The college is a leading training provider on the environmental sector.