Sandwell College

 

History: Sandwell College gained its current name and status in 1986 as the result of a merger of Warley College of Technology and West Bromwich College of Commerce and Technology.

Address: The three campuses across in Oldbury, Smethwick and West Bromwich were replaced by a brand new single-site college at the junction of Spon Lane and the West Bromwich Ringway in early 2012.

Ambience: Massive and modern. The striking new building stands out for miles around and is clearly visible from the M5. It will contain state-of-the-art digital and interactive technology, and combines all learners from the previous three campuses to create a cohesive college community.

Who's the boss? Val Bailey is college principal and chief executive, and joined in October 2003.

Prospectus: 0800 622 006, view the young person's guide online here and follow @sandwellcollege.

UCAS code: S08

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Yes - keen on widening participation. Courses vary significantly in terms of entry requirements. Foundation degrees ask for anything between 60 and 220 UCAS points, with previous work experience being taken into account too.

Foundation degrees: Health and social care; business management; early years services; computer systems management.

Vital statistics: Around 10,000 student will study at the single site, with around 650 members of staff. There is a sizeable international population, contributing to Sandwell's distinctive cultural mix, and something which the college prides itself on. The college concentrates on vocational courses related directly to the world of work, with apprenticeships featuring prominently. Students can also study at foundation degree or HND level, with university-level courses being awarded by the University of Wolverhampton and Thames Valley University.

Added value: The £80m new-build will provide up-to-the-minute facilities for vocational training, including an imitation surgery for trainee dental nurses and a mock-up aircraft cabin for travel and tourism students. Sandwell was the first organisation in the Black Country to receive the Guidance Council Quality Standards award for its excellent service to students, and a very high proportion of staff work in student support roles.

Teaching: The latest Ofsted report, in 2009, rated areas such as beauty and hairdressing, apprenticeships and 'Train to Gain' highly, with all long course subject areas having increased success rates since the previous inspection. Only business administration was deemed inadequate.

Any accommodation? None provided by the college.

Cheap to live there? Private rents in Birmingham are between £65 and £95 per week, excluding bills. Renting in Wolverhampton is usually cheaper.

Transport links: The new campus is right in the town centre, which is well served by road and the metro system. West Bromwich itself is just off the M5 and Birmingham is the nearest large transport hub, offering train services to destinations all around the country.

Fees: £5,000 per year for foundation degrees, with diplomas and other courses costing £4,000. Part-time courses are available for half the fees.

Bursaries: None offered by the college.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Birmingham and Wolverhampton are both renowned for their vibrant club scenes and the variety of entertainment that comes with any big city. Sandwell itself has several pubs and bars, and the students' union organises social events.

Sporting reputation: Sports hall and fitness centre at the new West Bromwich campus.

Glittering alumni: None as yet.

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