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Southampton, University of



Overall ranking: 16th out of 123 in the Complete University Guide for 2015.

History: Founded by bequest from Henry Robinson Hartley who wanted to bring culture to Southampton in the 19th century. Established in 1862, the Hartley Institution became Hartley University College and moved to Highfield area of city in 1919. It received university charter in 1952.

Address: Six campuses: four in Southampton, one in Winchester (Winchester School of Art) and the new branch campus in Malaysia. The main Highfield site is two miles from the city centre and the nearby Avenue campus hosts many of the arts departments.

Ambience: Grassy and attractive with redbrick buildings. The main campus is adjacent to Southampton Common's 326 acres of managed woodland. Grew hugely during the nineties, with buildings for chemistry, nursing, electronics and computer science built then. Dominating the waterfront is the giant six-storey National Oceanography Centre.

Who's the boss? Professor Don Nutbeam, a world-renowned expert on public health, took over as vice-chancellor in September 2009.

Prospectus: 023 8059 3482 or order one here.

UCAS code: S27

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Not especially. Offers are made in grades, rather than UCAS points. The average undergrad degree asks for AAB at A-level. Requirements do vary but competitive courses such as maths ask for a full set of As at A-level or equivalent.

Vital statistics: A large university with over 16,000 full-time undergrads, 5,500 staff and a solid research reputation. Student numbers have risen sharply in recent years, and there's been a fair amount of redevelopment and investment, particularly at the Highfield site. Traditionally strong in engineering and medicine but has innovative arts and humanities courses. Nationally-recognised in computer science, nursing and midwifery. Southampton is one of 24 Russell Group universities, dedicated to the highest levels of academic excellence.

Added value: The university is home to the £10m refurbished Hartley Library. A major £4.3m upgrade of outdoor sports facilities at Wide Lane was completed in 2005 and a £8m indoor sports complex and swimming pool has been built at Highfield campus. The university's facilities were selected as official pre-Games training camps for the 2012 Olympics. The Students' Union recently underwent a £5m revamp and there's an e-science centre and extended library. A £9m research centre for the development origins of health and disease opened in 2009. The university is currently undergoing a £200m redevelopment – a new award-winning life sciences building opened in 2010, and a Maritime Centre of Excellence is under construction. Recently opened facilities include a £6m purpose-built facility for the institute of sound and vibration research and the re-built £55m Mountbatten building, which was destroyed by fire in 2005.

Teaching: Came 61st out of 123 in the Complete University Guide student satisfaction rankings.

Graduate prospects: Ranked 23rd with 75.1 per cent entering graduate level employment.

Any accommodation? Yes – 5,000 places in 20 halls of residence means all first years who make Southampton their firm choice are guaranteed a place, provided they apply by 1 August. Self-catered accommodation ranges from £85.89 to £254.80 per week, while catered ranges from £131.32 to £141.61. The types of rooms available vary, see here for more details.

Cheap to live there? About average. Private rents are between £70 and £75 per week, excluding bills.

Transport links: The fantastic UniLink bus service connects all campuses (apart from Malaysia...) with the city centre. Good rail, air and sea links. M3 to London.

Fees: Annual UK/EU students is between £6,000 and £9,000 for most courses, depending on your household income. For international students, fees range between £13,290 and £31,500.

Bursaries: A student support package of £3,000 per year is available for those with a household income below £25,000. Financial support is also available for those with household incomes below £42,600. A variety of scholarships are on offer to the most able students across many departments. See here.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: The Students' Union hosts high-profile guest DJs and big-name bands. Facilities have been recently expanded and refurbished to include a 330-seat cinema managed by students, 1,700 capacity nightclub The Cube, bistro bar The Bridge and The Stag's student pub showing live sport. The nearby Portswood area boasts several hugely popular, varied and cheap venues.

Price of a pint: £3.30 on average.

Sporting reputation: Fair- ranked 21st in the BUCS league at present.

Notable societies: The Fancy Dress Society unites all those with a passion for silly attire and offers tips on how to make their own. There's something to cater for all tastes including the Steampunk Society (wearing of Victorian clothing not obligatory).

Glittering alumni: Journalists Sue Douglas, Jon Craig, Dominic Mohan and Jon Sopel; model Laura Bailey; comedian Jeremy Hardy; actor John Nettles; wildlife presenter Chris Packham; Dr Astrid Fischel, vice-president of Costa Rica; Southampton MPs John Denham and Dr Alan Whitehead; Olympic rowers Miriam and Guin Batten; and Radio One DJ Scott Mills.

Alternative prospectus: Read what students have to say about Southampton on Which? University here.