St Mary's University College, Twickenham


History: Began as the first Catholic teacher-training college in 1850, at Brook Green, Hammersmith. Moved to its present site in 1925. Now offers a diverse range of courses and welcomes students of all backgrounds.

Address: Leafy Twickenham in south-west London.

Ambience: Based in a Grade I listed Gothic mansion built by the 18th-century writer Horace Walpole, it has spacious grounds. St Mary’s is small by national standards, but has all the advantages of a great London location.

Who's the boss? Dr Arthur Naylor is the interim principal at present.

Prospectus: 020 8240 2314 or visit the website here.

UCAS code: S64

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Usually need two A-levels or equivalent, with UCAS offers ranging from 220 to 260 points. Some courses, notably teacher training programmes, are very competitive. Applications to St Mary’s have gone up by over 100 per cent in the last few years.

Vital statistics: Over 4,000 students with more women than men.

Added value: The last five years has seen massive investment in the campus with the latest additions including new residential accommodation and the i-learn Café. The new Dolche Vita coffee bar opened in 2006 and the £4million refectory and conference centre was completed in 2008. Recent improvements include an £8.25m sports facility development and the construction of a new lecture theatre.

Teaching: A 2011 QAA inspection concluded that confidence can be placed in St Mary's provision of higher education. Rated 'good' to 'very good' by Ofsted for primary teacher-training. Secondary maths, religious education, science and modern foreign languages teacher-training rated 'good' to 'very good'; geography rated 'good'; and PE rated 'good' to 'adequate'. Launched new applied physics degree in 2013.

Research: Excellent results in the recent RAE for theology with elements of world class research reported.

Any accommodation? Yes - halls cost roughly £3,500 to £5,700 per year with all room prices including breakfasts and dinners during term-time.

Cheap to live there? Not very as it's London - expect to pay around £100 per week for a room in a shared flat.

Transport links: Trains to Waterloo from Strawberry Hill take 35 minutes, or take the train or district line tube to Richmond. The M3 and M4 are close for driving.

Fees: The full whack at £9,000 per year for home and EU students on most courses.

Bursaries: Students in receipt of a full maintenance allowance will be eligible for a bursary but see the money matters page here for further information.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Revolves around the students’ union (which has two bars) plus local pubs and lively Kingston nightclubs. Highlights are the Christmas and Going Down balls.

Sporting facilities: Big on sport and positioned just down the road from the home of English rugby. The UK Athletics Endurance Performance Centre is based on site. Links with professional and semi-professional clubs, including London Irish Rugby Football Club, Harlequins Rugby League, Middlesex County Cricket Club and Barnet Ladies Football Club.

Glittering alumni: Actor Pete Postlethwaite and comedian Tom O'Connor.