There are alot of game art design courses/multimedia courses that are shit. I know what you mean, it is why I started to look into Illustration. The main problem I have with most of the game art design courses was their seemingly lack of a focus on actual drawing skills, practice of anatomy, and strong traditional backgrounds.
Which I guess I have wanted to focus on as it is sort of a basis around here for how to learn art in general and used to build on to lead into concept art.
Huddersfield deffinatly offers the above, I believe there are a few others in the uk as well like that but they are very few and far between. So I see where you and your friends are comming from.
I feel Illustration would be a better option anyway, as you get that kind of education, but you are taught to think more in a business sense, and can take that anywhere you want. Rather than just being pigeon holed into just game art design.
As for the age thing, I have been told that priority goes to younger students for accomodation since there are so few places, hence why I hope that it wont put me at a disadvantage.
Im refering to the university owned accomodation though, which I would like to get into idealy. Shared housing doesnt have those restrictions I would assume, but it is more expensive.
Thanks for the response btw, its nice to hear lots of different views on these things since it is such an importent decision to make.