AGE 34

HISTORY

The name Kingston University came into existence in 1992, 22 years after the institution was founded as Kingston Polytechnic.

ADDRESS

On the south-west fringe of Greater London, and on a pretty stretch of the Thames, the university is spread across four sites, the main one a short walk from the new Crown Court and the extensive shopping centre.

AMBIENCE

Urban university with shops aplenty and an extensive nightlife, while at the same time within easy reach of the Surrey countryside.

VITAL STATISTICS

In line with the nationwide expansion in higher education, Kingston's student population has grown to over 14,000 undergraduates and 2,500 postgrads.

PLUS POINTS

Pioneering work on peer-assisted learning encourages second-year students to help first years adapt to student life. Kingston welcomes mature students and those without standard qualifications. The university collaborates widely with businesses and schools so students gain practical experience.

GLITTERING ALUMNI

Actor Trevor Eve, Eddie Shoestring to your mum and dad's generation, studied architecture; Harper's Bazaar Editor-in-Chief Glenda Bailey did a fashion course, and Fever Pitch and High Fidelity author Nick Hornby completed a postgraduate teacher-training course.

TRANSPORT LINKS

Trains to Kingston and (almost as near) Surbiton leave frequently from London Waterloo, and there are bus services between the various departmental and residential campuses.

TEACHING

Rated 20 out of 24 in history of art, architecture and design; 21 in art and design, modern languages, sociology, economics; 22 in civil engineering, sports science, nursing and midwifery; 23 in maths, politics, radiography; 24 in building, surveying, landscape architecture, mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering, molecular and organismal biosciences.

RESEARCH

Ranked 75th out of 106, in the 2001 research assessment exercise.

NIGHTLIFE

Lively club scene. Plus live bands and club nights.

CHEAP TO LIVE IN?

Self-catered rooms in student halls range from £63.50-£82 a week, as of last year. Rooms in private accommodation average £70 a week.

PROSPECTUS

020-8547 7053; www.kingston.ac.uk

CLEARING

About 850 places are expected to be available, the likely subject areas with most vacancies being business, computing, engineering, science, radiography and surveying. If last year is anything to go by, there'll be about 6,000 phone calls to Kingston's Clearing staff in the crucial first couple of days. Clearing marketing manager Anthony Allen, who is responsible for student recruitment, expects most vacancies to be snapped up within 24 hours of its Clearing hotline opening on 19 August .

Students ringing Kingston's Clearing hotline who already have the grades needed to fill a course vacancy will be transferred to the relevant academic staff. But there'll also be plenty of help on hand for callers who do not quite meet Kingston's course criteria. "Students sometimes forget the other options available through Clearing," explains Allen. "Alongside its full degree programme, Kingston also offers Foundation Degrees in such subjects as computing and aircraft engineering, and runs HNDs with partner colleges in South-west London."

Clearing website: www.kingston.ac.uk/clearing2004. The site is up and running already. Particularly helpful is the Frequently Asked Questions section.

Clearing phone number: 020-8547 7575. Open 8.30am-7pm on results day, Thursday, and the next day, Friday, and 11am-3pm on Saturday.

How to make the most of the internet

As you're dropping off to sleep tomorrow night and, hopefully, not worrying too much about the news awaiting you the following morning, the Web-based Clearing system will be bracing itself to go live. As clocks strike midnight, the site (www.ucas.ac.uk/clearing) will be launched.

From UCAS's Cheltenham headquarters, a dedicated team of 30 IT staff will maintain the website behind the system that last year found places for approaching 39,000 applicants.

So if you find yourself a couple of grades short of your target, speed with the mouse, combined with some good old-fashioned phone-bashing, when you speak to individual universities, should help you salvage an academic future from your less-than-perfect exam results.

The Clearing website is constantly being updated. When all available places on a course are filled, the course disappears from screens, and you won't waste too much of your summer phoning universities only to be told you're too late.

Twelve months ago, there were nearly one and a half million course vacancy searches on the site, a figure that is likely to be exceeded this year.

Initial access to Clearing online is open to anyone, so it's wise to spend some time getting to know the site, and getting a feel for the scale of course places on offer, before you log on in your own name and enter the secure areas. When you do this, you'll be able to access information personal to you, such as your Clearing Entry Number, and you'll be able to track the progress of applications you make through the Clearing system.

It's worth pointing out, though, that you will eventually have to fill in a paper version of the Clearing Entry Form, that will be generated and sent to you once you are no longer holding either of your original offers from universities.

Your login details and password that get you into the secure part of the site can be found both on the Acknowledgement Letter you received from UCAS last autumn, when you first applied to university, and on the Advisory Letter you received last month.

So you could do worse than dig either of those letters out now, so that come next Thursday, you'll be ahead of the game. That's if you need to be, of course!

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