Buckingham, University of



Overall ranking: 61st out of 123 in the Complete University Guide for 2015.

History: Formally opened in February 1976 by Margaret Thatcher as former secretary of state for education, the college originally had just 65 students. It was granted university status in March 1983.

Address: Two sites near Buckingham town centre, a historic market town named after the Teutonic chieftain Bucca. As of 2009, they have offered three new masters courses based in London, in biography, decorative arts and historic interiors, and military history. A postgraduate medical course is also based in London.

Ambience: A very unusual place. Britain's only private university, it receives no government funding and charges full tuition. It pioneered the two year degree, which runs over eight terms so students study for the same number of weeks as in traditional universities. Rural mid-England setting in a small town.

Who's the boss? The vice-chancellor is biochemist Professor Terence Kealey.

Prospectus: 01280 820 313 or request one here.

UCAS code: B90

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Not very. The University relies heavily on interview and claims to value outstanding candidates as much as outstanding grades. Offers are normally in the range of BBB – BCC at A level (or equivalent) or 300 – 260 UCAS points.

Vital statistics: Buckingham has around 2,000 students studying a range of subjects from law through to business, international studies, economics and English. 1,300 full-time on campus in Buckingham. The two-year degree means that the university is popular with mature students.

Added value: Offers a staff-student ratio close to those of Oxbridge and small tutorial groups not seen in many universities. Cosmopolitan student body and unique multicultural atmosphere. Graduate employability is high. The two-year degree means students get through university more quickly and incur less in living costs. Most Buckingham honours degrees are completed in two four-term years (apart from the Medical School, where the programme lasts 4½ years. Most undergraduate courses have entry points in September and January; some courses also have an entry point in July. The developments currently under way are the refurbishment of buildings in preparation for the opening of the UK’s first not-for-profit independent Medical School in January 2015, the provision of a new centre for the burgeoning Foundation Department, and a continuing programme of improvements to student accommodation. New MA programmes in London include Archaeology and Human Rights. Professor Alistair Alcock is Acting Vice Chancellor following the retirement of Professor Terence Kealey.

Teaching: Scored first place in the Complete University Guide for student satisfaction with teaching.

Graduate prospects: Excellent- 5th out of 123 with 83.1 per cent finding graduate level employment upon completing their degrees.

Any accommodation? Guaranteed for the first four terms providing application is made before the deadline. Different options are available- single rooms are from £106, with en-suite rooms starting from £134 per week.

Cheap to live there? Nope. Accommodation outside the university walls starts at around £100 per week.

Transport links: Good. Close to the M1 and M40 and within easy reach of mainline railway stations serving London and the Midlands. Midway between Milton Keynes and Oxford.

Fees: Because of the two-year degree scheme and the university's independence, it is not obliged to charge the standard tuition fee. You're looking at £12,444 for UK/EU students and £17,160 a year for International students.

Bursaries: Students that receive the government maintenance grant are awarded an automatic bursary of £1,100 a year. There is a range of other bursaries and scholarships on offer based on specific factors. See the website for details.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Sedate. Students use the union or pubs in town, or visit nightclubs in London, Oxford or Milton Keynes. There's a graduation ball in February and a local cinema showing films twice a week. On the plus side, there are three Freshers' Weeks every year!

Price of a pint: Not cheap in the pubs, but the union is better value. Pints in Oxford and Milton Keynes average at around £4 and £3.10 respectively.

Sporting reputation: Not in the BUCS league this year, but there is still a sports field equipped with a flood-lit training area and sports pavilion if you're still keen.

Notable societies: New students are encouraged to set up their own society, but there are a few on offer already. The Arts and Theatre Society is thriving, or why not have a go spinning the discs with DJ Society?

Glittering alumni: Chris de Lapuente, global president and CEO of Sephora; various members of the Churchill family; Marc Gene, winner of the Le Mans 2009 race; Bob Tavener, CEO of Twinings and Ovaltine.

Alternative prospectus: See how current and recent Buckingham students rate various aspects of their university experience on What Uni? here.

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