History: First opened in October 1931 as a mining institute with only two classrooms and three practical rooms. In 1949, it became Neath Technical College and in 1999, NPTC was formed following the merger of the former Afan and Neath colleges. The only college in the borough of Neath Port Talbot.

Address: The main campus is based in Neath, a ten minute walk from the centre of town, but there are actually eight campuses extending across south Wales, including those in Swansea, Bridgend, Pontardawe and Port Talbot.

Ambience: Neath is a delightful old market town, packed with history and the usual array of shops.

Who's the boss? Mark Dacey has been principal and chief executive since April 2004. He started his career as an apprentice in the construction industry, before moving into education.

Prospectus: 01639 648 000 or visit the website here.

UCAS code: N13

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Shouldn't be too hard, as entry requirements vary between courses and qualifications. For many of NPTC's vocational and HE courses, academic experience is not necessarily needed.

Foundation Degrees: Financial services; popular music; interactive digital media; engineering; creative industries (media production); sports coaching and performance; construction science; management and business; health studies; care studies; childhood studies; counselling studies.

Vital statistics: 3,000 full-time and 13,500 part-time learners. It is an accredited college of the University of Glamorgan, and also has excellent partnerships with UWIC, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Swansea University and the University of Wales, Newport. The only college in the borough of Neath Port Talbot. Since the 60s, it has been running one of the widest ranges of A-level courses in Wales, and offers vocational courses in every conceivable area. Inclusive, with courses that appeal to all interests. As the second largest FE college in Wales, it is also one of the highest achieving. The college also has a variety of HE courses to suit both younger and mature learners.

Added value: NPTC has a Beacon Award for teaching excellence in business administration. Teachers and learners regularly participate in both national and international competitions, as well as other external activities such as charity fundraising. The Academy for Sport and Learning, at NPTC's Llandarcy campus, is a shared training facility regularly used by Welsh rugby players and footballers from Swansea City FC. A new £6m sports arena on the site is expected to open this September. The newest additions to the college are a £2m performing arts centre at the Neath campus, and a dedicated HE centre at the Afan Campus.

Teaching: Achieved a respectable grade two at the last Estyn inspection, with outstanding areas in hair and beauty, independent living skills, and business, administration and law.

Any accommodation? None provided by the college but their learner services department has access to a range of suitable accommodation for students who wish to live away from home.

Cheap to live there? Yes - weekly rentals range from £60 to £110 per week on average.

Transport links: Neath and Afan campuses are both on the route of the First Cymru Bus Network. Neath train station is on the First Great Western rail network to London and west Wales. Cardiff and Swansea airports are within 40 minutes drive. Neath itself is easily located just off junction 43 of the M4 motorway and is a short drive away from some of Wales' most beautiful scenery.

Fees: Varies depending on course but expect to pay between £4,000 and £7,500 per year.

Bursaries: £338 through the Welsh Bursary scheme and three specific bursaries of £250 for childcare, return to care and successful completion.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Neath has an array of bars and restaurants and is within easy reach of the big lights and big nights of Swansea and Cardiff by train.

Sporting facilities: Outdoor pitches and courts at Neath, with indoor facilities at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport including a physio room and fitness suite.

Glittering alumni: Robert Croft, cricketer; Hayley Tullet, Olympian; Duncan Jones, rugby player in the Welsh World Cup team; James Hook, Welsh international rugby player; Steve Balsamo, actor.