City of Bristol College / Tom Jolliffe


History: The City of Bristol College dates back to the merchant venturers in the sixteenth century and has since expanded through a series of mergers. It's now one of the largest colleges in the UK.

Address: The college has ten centres across Bristol including Ashley Down, Bedminster, College Green, Hartcliffe, Lawrence Weston, Parkway and Soundwell.

Ambience: Bristol is full of students. It has pockets of magnificent architecture, docks and warehouses, several of which have been turned into pubs and restaurants.

Who's the boss? Keith Elliott CBE is the principal and chief executive.

Prospectus: 0117 312 5000; or have a look at their course guides here.

UCAS code: B77

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Can vary widely, given the huge amount of courses. Foundation degrees usually need 140 UCAS points, while honours degrees ask for up to 300. An interview is needed for some courses.

Foundation Degrees: Administration and business technology, aerospace engineering manufacturing, automotive business management technology, business, communication and computer networks, complementary health therapies, computing, computing and information technology, construction, counselling, creative arts therapies, dance theatre performance, digital media production, early childhood studies, early years, financial services with management, food and beverage management, graphic design with interactive multimedia, health and social care practice, health professions, interactive multimedia with graphic design, internet technologies, professional photography, substance misuse and theatre media performance. Also offers excellent progression routes to complete degrees.

Vital statistics: City of Bristol College is one of the UK’s largest colleges. It attracts more than 30,000 students, around 1,500 of whom are on higher education courses. The college also offers more than 1,000 full and part-time day and evening courses - from pre-entry to university level. Foundation degrees are ran in partnership with UWE, University of Plymouth, Bath Spa University and University of Bristol.

Added value: The college has won several national awards in recognition of its status as one of the country’s leading colleges. The college also offers modern cuisine in its training restaurants - City Restaurant and Cabot Restaurant at the College Green and Ashley Down centres, respectively. A dedicated university centre at Ashley Down to provide a university environment for HE students. An ambitious £50m capital build programme has been under way for some time and includes a major investment in all main college centres. A £25m refurbishment programme of Ashley Down Centre has created a first-class facility for vocational training. The centre boasts state-of-the-art construction and engineering workshops, a dedicated learning resource centre, training kitchens, a hair and beauty salon and well equipped classrooms. A £7m development programme at Soundwell Centre has seen extensive refurbishment of facilities used by thousands of students. Orpen Park, also in north Bristol, is the latest addition to City of Bristol College, offering transport technology courses.

Teaching: Received a glowing Ofsted report in March 2006, with good or outstanding grades across the board. Was awarded Beacon status by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service. There is also access to personal tutors and a range of excellent learning resources. In 2010, Ofsted reported the college as good.

Any accommodation? Yes - Hotwells House halls of residence offers rooms from £106 per week.

Cheap to live there? Rents vary widely across Bristol, but it's easy to find somewhere for £80 per week.

Transport links: The college sells discounted bus tickets for First Bus. Bristol is an important transport hub. There are two main stations, Temple Meads and Parkway, and trains to London run approximately every half-hour.

Fees: Vary by course and qualification. Most full-time foundation degrees cost between £5,850 and £7,500, with it costing you £10,750 annually for a BSc (Hons) course in Aircraft Maintenance Operations and Management.

Bursaries: Higher education students may be eligible for bursaries through their awarding university.

the fun stuff

Glittering alumni: Louise Brown, who was famous even before she arrived at the college for being the world's first test tube baby. More recently, performing arts student Mike Bailey, who starred in the E4 drama Skins.

Nightlife: Bristol is the largest city in the south-west and home to Tricky and Massive Attack. Mr Wolfs is always a good night, Half Moon, and Thekla are fun. There are also a multitude of great pubs and bars, one of which to look out for is the Volunteer Tavern.