Bridgwater College


History: Set up as a tertiary college more than 30 years ago, it runs a wide range of academic and vocational programmes from entry-level through to university-level courses. A merger with the former Cannington College in September 2004 gave it centres for land-based studies in Cannington, Bristol, Paignton and Yeovil.

Address: Bridgwater is a pretty market town in Somerset with a population of 40,000.

Ambience: A friendly college with a large number of mature students. The Bridgwater campus, which caters for the vast majority of students, is purpose-built with modern buildings, the most recent of which houses a leisure zone and cafe. There are outreach centres in Minehead, Cheddar, Cannington, Paignton, Yeovil and Bridgwater. Facilities at Cannington include a working 400 acre farm, a new animal management centre and equestrian centre and a nine-hole golf course.

Who's the boss? The principal is Fiona McMillan, who has been awarded an OBE for her services to further education.

Prospectus: 01278 441 234 /

UCAS code: B70

what you need to know

Easy to get into? Varies by course. Most university level courses need 120 UCAS points or equivalent. For further education, entry requirements vary according to level of entry. The college takes experience in industry into account for those without formal qualifications.

Foundation degrees: Loads, including agricultural management, media practice, motorsport engineering, countryside management, nuclear engineering, landscape design and creative audio technology.

Vital statistics: Hundreds of courses on offer, and a student population in excess of 16,000. About 700 students study on university-level courses, a number that is gradually increasing. The college provides its HE courses in partnership with Plymouth University, The University of Central Lancashire, the University of Bath and Bournemouth University.

Added value: A shelf of silverware and some specialist equipment and facilities. Bridgwater received Beacon College status in February 2002 and has won 11 Beacon awards, for inclusive learning, responsiveness to employers, school/college partnerships, improving quality and standards, staff development, and health and care. Centres of Vocational Excellence in early years, automotive engineering, tourism and hospitality, and residential care. The Forest School was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2000. The Automotive Centre has light and heavy vehicle electronics diagnostics labs and a fully equipped body repair workshop.

Teaching: In Ofsted inspections the college has been rated as having outstanding teaching, pass rates, support for students, leadership and management, accommodation and resources. At HE level, the QAA has described the tutorial support as 'exemplary'.

Any accommodation? Provided at the college’s Cannington Centre and allocated on a priority basis. Different arrangements are available, but rent ranged between £80 and £104 per week for seven-night stays in 2011.

Cheap to live there? Not really. Rents in Bridgwater went for between £80 and £100 per week in 2011.

Transport links: The M5 motorway provides easy access to Bristol, or London via the M4. There is a railway station in the town with direct trains to London or Bristol. Or there's a more frequent service to London from Taunton, 10 miles south. Bristol International airport is 40 minutes away by car. The Cannington Centre for land-based studies is located five miles west of Bridgwater on the A39.

Fees: Varies depending on course, with many degrees costing £2,800 per year for 2011/2012 entry . Check individual course pages on the website for details. Fees are expected to go up in 2012.

Bursaries: HE bursaries are dealt with by validating universities.

the fun stuff

Nightlife: A handful of local pubs, a couple of nightclubs, a cinema and an arts centre, although Bridgwater's social scene revolves more around Carnival day and social events like skittles and bingo than an upbeat popular culture. Bristol, Bath and Bournemouth are all close at hand for students wanting to paint the town red and with Glastonbury on the doorstep there is some guarantee of live music action and hedonistic abandonment at least once a year.


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