Somerset College / Martin Bodman


History: Somerset College of Arts and Technology was formed in 1974 from two existing colleges in Taunton – Taunton Technical College and Somerset College of Art. Both these institutions had distinguished histories going back over a century. The college recently celebrated the 150th birthday of the College of Art.

Address: Taunton, Somerset, has a happy balance of rural bliss and small-town buzz.

Ambience: The rural surroundings set the scene for extra-curricular outdoor pursuits: horse riding, rock climbing and rambling. North Devon's surfing beaches and the world heritage coastline along the south-west are within one hour's drive.

Who's the boss? Rachel Davies has been principal for four years.

Prospectus: 01823 366 331, view it online here and follow @SomersetCollege.

UCAS code: S28

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Entry requirements vary depending on the course, but interviews will be necessary for most arts and design courses.

Foundation degrees: Early childhood studies; fashion promotion with media; fine art; graphic design; health and social care studies; media make-up; computing and internet technologies; engineering; enterprise in computer games technology; sustainable construction; sustainable development.

Vital statistics: More than 12,000 students, with just under 1,000 studying HE courses. Strong provision for arts and design (housed in an award-winning purpose-built arts centre), business, sport and tourism, construction, automotive engineering, health and social care. All HNC, foundation and honours degree programmes are validated by the University of Plymouth, with which the college has been working for more than 15 years.

Added value: Lots of investment and building work recently. The central atrium houses classrooms, lecture theatres, hair and beauty salon, shop, canteen and silver-service training restaurant. Conference venues on site. The college works with local businesses and supports start-up creative industry companies through the Hot House. Genesis, a £2.5m educational resource centre demonstrating sustainable construction, opened in 2006.

Teaching: In a 2010 review, the QAA had overall confidence in the college's HE provision.

Any accommodation? Yes - there are 192 study bedrooms grouped into clusters of six or seven, each sharing a well-equipped kitchen/diner. Costs fall roughly between £88 and £112 per week.

Cheap to live there? It varies widely - a room in a shared house close to Taunton can set you back anywhere between £50 and £85 per week.

Transport links: Just off the M5. London, Birmingham and Southampton by rail.

Fees: £7,500 for full-time design programmes with other honours degrees varying in cost.


The fun stuff

Nightlife: The Glastonbury Festival in June is only a short bus ride away. There are local bands and local venues, festivals and proms throughout the year.

Sporting reputation:

Glittering alumni: Robert Carey Williams, fashion designer; Richard Deacon, Turner Prize winner; Kate Phelan, creative director at Topshop; Douglas Cordeaux, creative director at Pepe Jeans.