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Study in Birmingham

By James Drakeford

Posted: 7th July 2014 14:34

There are many reasons to want to study in Birmingham.  The UK’s second city, Birmingham has grown from a medieval market town, becoming a major industrial hub before developing into the progressive city it is today.  The city boasts many achievements – it famously has more canals than Venice, it has the largest park space of any city in Europe, and many of its cultural institutions hold an international reputation.  Birmingham is also evolving rapidly to become a major hub for the arts and its location right in the middle of the country gives it excellent transport links to the rest of the UK.

It is an exciting time to be a part of the city as it is currently four years into an ambitious redevelopment programme that is set to spend more than £10 billion in improvements over the space of 20 years.  The results of the on-going Big City Plan can already be seen with the £189 million Library of Birmingham– the largest in western Europe, the new £650 million New Street Station and the £100 million development of The Cube.  By the time you finish your study the city will also have added a £50m redevelopment of the Mailbox, £500m investment in Paradise Circusand a £150m John Lewisstore to add to the already excellent Bullring Shopping experience.

Choosing Your Study Options

There are five places to study in Birmingham, with three universities and two university colleges, all within close distance to the city centre.  The major institution is the University of Birmingham, home of the first established Students’ Union and currently sitting in the top 20 of the UK league tables.  It manages to push into the top 10 for numerous major subjects including Computer Science, Chemical Engineering and Psychology.

Meanwhile, Birmingham City University, home to the Birmingham Conservatoire, offers a strong music programme.  It’s also a very good place to study education and communication.  Nearby Aston University offers excellent opportunities in business-related fields, with the university being in the top 10 for Marketing.  Aston also has particularly high graduate employment rate due to its large number of professional connections.

The university colleges offer up many options for non-academic study.  Newman University specialises in teacher training courses, while University College Birmingham offers up a variety of practical courses from food and beverage to spa and salon training.

Highlights & Attractions

One highlight for students coming to study in Birmingham is the new Library of Birmingham.  Yes, it’s a library, but this new high-tech building opened in 2013 and offers a very modern space for studying and catching up on your reading.  Beyond just books, the library offers a British Film Institute archive and theatre spaces for music and drama performances, making it the perfect cultural hub, while the observation deck provides a great outdoor space to chill out.

While the city has a lot of choices for nightlife, there are two excellent spots for students specifically.  The first is Digbeth, which contains the media centre and former custard factory called, appropriately, The Custard Factory, and also the Rainbow venue which regularly hosts local gigs.  Head south of the city centre and you’ll find yourself in Moseley, which has no less than 14 pubs in 1.3 miles.  These include dedicated small music venues such as The Hare And Hounds and The Bull’s Head, to local favourites such as The Prince of Wales and The Fighting Cocks.

For shopping, the Bullring Shopping Centre is right at the heart of Birmingham’s retail, with the distinctive “bubbles” of Selfridges being a key Birmingham landmark.  The Bullring features 160 shops as well as the Spiceal Street restaurant complex, including Pizza Hut, Handmade Burger Co, Jamie’s Italian and local Japanese restaurant Mount Fuji.

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