Article excerpt

SCOTLAND'S new universities are the worst in Britain - with Paisley heading the league of shame.

A guide used by thousands of prospective students claims Paisley is the worst of Britain's 96 universities.

And it's closely followed by Abertay Dundee (92nd), Napier (91st), Robert Gordon (90th) and Glasgow Caledonian (88th).

At the other end of the academic spectrum, Edinburgh is ranked 4th best, Glasgow 14th and Strathclyde 18th.

The grim news for the new institutions comes in the Virgin 2001 Alternative Guide to British Universities.

The guide is researched from the latest statistics, surveys, independent audits and a wide- ranging sample of student opinion.

It looks at not only the academic record of the top teaching institutions but also the social life, drop- out rates and job opportunities.

And the news for Paisley University is not good.

Of the Paisley campus, it says: "It would be really easy for a fresher to mistake the main campus for a hospital wing in need of a cosmetic facelift."

Only two institutions score lower when judged on the social scene of the university and the town.

The guide says student union services are poor, arts opportunities are few, parking is poor, the risk of violence is average and town/gown relations are also poor.

Paisley is also at the bottom of the list for drop-outs - 15 per cent among non- mature entrants - and has one of the lowest ratings for academic achievement.

The remarks are in stark contrast to those about Scotland's most highly rated institution, Edinburgh University.

Prince William is believed to have been sufficiently impressed to apply for Edinburgh. And current students and recent graduates share that view.

Graduate Holly Crane told the guide: "I know everyone is supposed to fall in love with their university, but Edinburgh just makes it so easy."

Edinburgh gets five stars for entertainment, student union services are good, the risk of violence is low and town/gown relations are good.

Paisley University last night defended their facility, saying work was continuing to improve the campus. …