West Thames College


History: Before 1993, West Thames was known as Isleworth Polytechnic and Hounslow Borough College. There is a grade II listed building on site called Spring Grove House dating back to 1645 - originally the 18th Century residence of botanist and explorer Sir Joseph Banks. Banks was the first unofficial director of Kew Gardens in 1772 and famously travelled around the world with Captain Cook.

Address: The main campus is in London Road, Isleworth; there is also a skills centre in Feltham.

Ambience: West London is a diverse and affordable area with a vibrant mix of cultures. This lively college offers a range of courses, specialising in professional and specialist vocational training.

Who's the boss? Marjorie Semple is principal.

Prospectus: 020 8326 2020 or visit the website here.

UCAS code: W65

What you need to know

Easy to get into? A levels, National Diploma or equivalent Level 3 for entry to higher level courses and various requirements for other courses. Applications are also welcome from mature students with suitable experience.

Foundation degrees: FdA early years care and education; FdSc psychology and counselling studies. HNDs in applied biology; performing arts; dance; specialist make-up; travel and tourism management; creative media production and HNS music production. BA in specialist make-up.

Vital statistics: Over 6,500 students study courses from entry level to foundation degrees, HNDs and BAs. An associate college of Kingston University, it also has close links with other London universities and local employers.

Added value: The main college campus in Isleworth has some of the best facilities in the country, with bright, modern buildings such as the Atrium (opened in 2010) which uses sustainable energy sources. The campus redevelopment was completed in September 2011 with the opening of the Sir Joseph Banks Building which houses state-of-the-art classrooms and workshops, landscaped lawns and sports pitches. The College is a certified Microsoft and Cisco Networking Academy.

Teaching: In a 2010 Ofsted inspection, the college received a Grade 3, or 'satisfactory', rating overall. Safeguarding, equality and diversity, and foundations for learning and life were all deemed to be 'good'.

Any accommodation? Paragon House is shared with the University of West London students. Paragon is based in Brentfordwhich has all the shops, bars, restaurants, leisure facilities and amenities you'll need. Rent starts at £127 per week and ranges to £173.

Cheap to live there? Prices vary but rents are generally pretty steep, in line with outer London rental prices at upwards of £80 per week.

Transport links: Isleworth train station connects directly with Waterloo and central London in 30 minutes. The nearest Tube station is Hounslow East or Osterley and Hounslow bus station is about 10 minutes' walk.

Fees: Vary by course and qualification for further education programmes. HE fees range from £2,400 to £5,900 per year.

Bursaries: Course-specific bursaries are available to those progressing well with studies.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: The capital's throbbing club culture is only 30 minutes away but west London has its own charismatic flair.

Sporting facilities: Sports hall and outdoor pitches, plus a full-sized sports pitch at Isleworth. Plenty of sports teams to join, with use of the fitness gym costing just £10 per year.

Glittering alumni: Freddie Mercury; award-winning actors Rufus Sewell and Anne-Marie Duff; former Holby City and Coronation Street actor Martin Hancock (better known as Geoffrey "Spider" Nugent); EastEnders actor Rizwan Shebani; Mark and Scott Morris from The Bluetones.

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