History: Born in 1973 from the marriage of Royal Manchester College of Music (which dates to 1893) and Northern School of Music. In the fifties, it emerged as the home of the Manchester group of composers. Northern School of Music was founded in 1920.

Address: Oxford Road, one mile south of Manchester city centre.

Ambience: Purpose-built premises in the city's student heart. Modern 60s building houses three main performance areas: 450-seat concert hall and 620-seat opera theatre, with an additional 150-seat studio theatre. The 1998 building houses a state-of-the-art library. The new Oxford Road wing opened in July 2007, and has substantially increased the RNCM's stock of high-quality specialist accommodation. On-site hall of residence, just a two minute walk away.

Who's the boss? Professor Linda Merrick, an accomplished clarinettist with an international profile as a soloist and record artist, is principal.

Prospectus: 0161 907 5200, request it online here and follow @RNCMvoice.

CUKAS code: R57

What you need to know

Easy to get into? You need two A-levels, three GCSEs and, where appropriate, a high level of performing ability. All applicants are auditioned.

Vital statistics: The youngest of the four British Royal schools of music, with almost 700 students. Received degree-awarding powers in early 2007 and runs a BMus (Hons) course. There is also a joint course run in conjunction with the University of Manchester, designed for those with outstanding academic as well as practical ability. For would-be professional session musicians there is a foundation degree in popular music practice offered in conjunction with access to music. Undergraduate courses are four years, and there is a high proportion of overseas and mature students. The RNCM’s new graduate school offers a range of courses to allow graduates to take their training to the next level.

Added value: The only music conservatoire in the country to be awarded the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, housed in the Oxford Road wing. This includes a Centre for Young Musicians and opportunities for continuing professional development. Up-to-date facilities, including professionally staffed opera theatre, concert hall, studio theatre, recital room, lecture theatre and practice rooms.

Teaching: 76 per cent of students said they were satisfied with teaching in the most recent National Student Survey.

Research: 50 per cent of the college's submissions to the Research Assessment Exercise 2008 were deemed to be of a 'quality that is recognised internationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour'.

Any accommodation? Yes - there are 316 places available in halls from £119.50 to £205 per week including bills. An additional catering package is available so you can purchase meals through RNCM's catering outlets.

Cheap to live there? It can be - local rents range greatly from £60 to £150 per week.

Transport links: Local buses. London is two-and-a-half hours by train; Manchester Airport is 15 minutes away.

Fees: The college charges the maximum tuition fee of £9,000 per yea.

Bursaries: Up to £1,130 per year available to students with a household income of less than £25,000 per year. Excellence scholarships are also offered.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Classical, jazz and contemporary music events. As well as mounting many student performances it is also a venue for visiting orchestras, dance companies and local opera companies. The union has a lively bar, which puts on a variety of weekly entertainments. The thriving nightlife of Manchester city centre is easily accessible and highly recommended.

Sporting reputation: None but plenty in Manchester to make use of.

Glittering alumni: Pianists Steven Osborne, Peter Donohoe and Stephen Hough; the Brodsky and Sorrel String Quartets; opera singers Amanda Roocroft, John Tomlinson and Jane Eaglen; composers Simon Holt and Sally Beamish.