Birmingham is famed for many things – industry, canals, our unique accent, and so on. One thing we are becoming increasingly known for, however, is education.
Did you know that, since 2013, Birmingham has housed five Universities, on top of numerous colleges? Their diverse course offerings and close proximity to the England’s second city means that this is a sector likely to grow even further in the coming years. So if you are moving here (or looking for a University in the local area), which one is right for you?
University of Birmingham
University Status: 1900
Campuses: 2 (Edgebaston, Selly Oak)
Housing Complexes: 3
The most well established University in the area, the University of Birmingham was given University status in 1900, alongside five other establishments (Uni. of Manchester, Uni. of Liverpool, Uni. of Leeds, Uni. of Sheffield, and Uni of Bristol) dubbed “red brick universities”, aimed at providing higher education in “real life” skills, such as manufacturing and medicine.
While it may have expanded its horizons to include more fanciful degrees such as Fine Arts, it’s main focus is still on real world skills. It offers course in Engineering Sciences, Medical and Dental Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Law.
It often ranks in the top 50 Universities in the UK (and more often than not in the top 20), and was actually voted as “University of the Year 2014” by Times Higher Education. Getting in can be tough, thanks to understandably high standards, but those that do are joining a University that has produced two former Prime Ministers and a Nobel Prize winner!
University Status: 1966
Housing Complexes: 4
Aston University has a few quirks that make it unique amongst not only other Birmingham based Universities, but amongst all UK based ones. For example, it has the largest percentage of students that undertake placements years (70%). It’s Conference Aston building is also one of Europe’s largest free standing brick buildings.
Offering courses in Engineering & Applied Sciences, Business, and Language amongst others, Aston punches well above it’s weight considering it’s size and location. It ranks 51st in worldwide tables on graduate reputation, and is one of the top 20 most desirable universities for employers. It also has a knack for educating future millionaires, as it’s graduates account for 2.3% of all millionaires in the country.
Birmingham City University
University Status: 1992
Campuses: 3 (City North, City Centre, City South)
Housing Complexes: 8
While not as established as UoB and Aston University, Birmingham City University has made a lot of strides in the 22+ years since it became a University. Not least of all when it comes to it’s name! Having been called City of Birmingham Polytechnic since 1971, it changed to the University of Central England in 1992. In 2005, it changed again to UCE Birmingham, but reverted back to UCE less than two years later. Finally, it was announced in 2007 that there would be a vote for a new name, and Birmingham City University won with nearly 50% of the vote.
Taking a similar “real world” ethos to UoB, BCU has course on things such as Engineering, Health and Law. But this is supplemented by modern courses such as Media, Art & Design, and Social Sciences. It also has some specialised satellite campuses, such as the School of Jewelery in the Jewelry Quarter.
The Uni is part way through moving to a brand new “flagship” campus next to the Millenium Point, that will see a large number of City North schools move to new facilities. This upgrade may see them rival both Aston and UoB, which both rank above them in University standings (though all three boast impressive post-graduate statistics).
University College Birmingham
University Status: 2012
Housing Complexes: 2
One of two “new” universities the city gained in 2012/2013, University College Birmingham was first founded in 1957 as a college, specialising in the culinary and domestic arts. It first changed it’s name to UCB in 2007, but wasn’t granted full University status until 2012.
It’s specialities from 1957 still influence it’s course selection today. Prospective students can choose to study such things as cooking, hair & beauty, tourism, and various aspects of sport, from management to therapy. All of these are located at the centralised campus in Birmingham city centre, which saw its newest building, McIntyre House, open in September 2014.
University Status: 2013
Housing Complexes: 1
The other former college to become a full University recently, Newman is the only Catholic oriented University in the region, though it stresses that it accepts students from all religious backgrounds. It’s no surprise that they offer religious and philosophical degrees, but the University also offers course on teaching, business, and criminology.
With post graduate employment rates of 95%, and ranking in the top 20 for graduate employment in the UK, this is a University on the rise.
As you can see there is a plenty of choice. You also have to consider other factors outside of education. Moving away from your family home is a serious dilemma and there are many things you will need to take into account. The cost of moving to a new city, finding and paying rent for your accommodation and diving into a new social scene are all things you need to factor into your decision. Make sure to do proper research before making any decisions, especially when it comes to renting a new place. You will have many options from renting a place on your own to shared accommodation, each of these will have their pros and cons, such as proximity to the University, and level of security (something very important to remember considering the amount of books, laptops and other gadgets you will be taking with you).
Featured image credit: openclipart.org