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Studying In Birmingham

Thinking of studying in Birmingham? Read our comprehensive guide to the Universities and how to make the most of the city.

The University of Birmingham occupies the following positions in the world ranking proposed by the various league tables:

World ranking Type of league table
101 – 150 The Academic Ranking of World Universities
119 The Times Higher Education World University Rankings
N/A The Professional Ranking of World Universities
152 Centre for World University Rankings
76 QS World University Rankings
13 The National Student Survey

Zoom in:

  • Named the “University of the Year” by the Times and the Sunday Times in 2013-2014.
  • National hub for an innovative STEM programme, wishing to promote interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
  • Major participant in the Erasmus programme, which encourages student exchanges between leading European Institutions
  • Its strength lies in the field of life sciences.

 

What the league tables say in more details:

The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)

The University of Birmingham is considered to be amongst the 101st and 150th universities in the world with a total score of 21.42/100 and amongst the 10th and the 17th universities in the UK.  In terms of fields and subjects, its strengths lie in the field of life sciences, preponderantly in Physics.

University of Birmingham has successfully maintained itself within the top 150 universities worldwide since 2003, having succeeded to enter top 100 between 2004 and 2010.

The ARWU ranks universities based on 4 major criteria, further split by categories:

Criterion Weight Score
Quality of education Number of alumni who have won a Nobel Prize 10% 18.5
Quality of Faculty Number of staff who have won a Nobel Prize 20% 9.4
Number of highly cited researchers 20% 20.8
Research Output Number of Papers published in Nature and Science 20% 12.7
Number of Papers cited in Science Citation Indexes 20% 44.7
Academic Perf. Per capita academic performance 10% 20.5
Overall 100% 21.42

 

The ARWU offers scores for each of the criteria above, but one disadvantage is that it does not rank the universities based on individual criterion as well, so students do not get full insight into university rankings based on their personal preferences.

Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings

Overall, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings places University of Birmingham on the 119th place in the world.

The league table considers the following criteria (each with an equal weight):

Criterion Score (of 100)
Teaching quality 39.4
International Outlook 82.0
Industry Income 34.7
Research capabilities 41.8
Citations 82.7
Total 56.2

The University of Birmingham is:

  • In top 20% universities in International Outlook in 2015-2016
  • In top 20% universities in Citations in 2015-2016
  • In top 20% universities in Research in 2015-2016

The main statistics on University of Birmingham consist of:

  • Number of students: 25,295
  • % of international students: 23%
  • Students to staff ratio = 14.4
  • Female: Male ratio = 54:46

 

The Professional Ranking of World Universities (PRWU)

This league table ranks university by a simple criterion, undeclared but verifiable: the number of alumni holding a post of chief executive officer or equivalent in one of the 500 leading international companies, at a particular time and with the data, (companies and company leaders) of the Fortune Global 500 classification. The last such survey was conducted in 2009 based on the companies included in Fortune Global 500 at the end of 2008.

The University of Birmingham is not mentioned in this league table, meaning that at the time of the research, no alumni from this university was holding a post of chief executive office or equivalent in any of the companies considered.

Centre for World University Rankings

Based on this ranking, University of Birmingham is the 152th university in the world and the 12th in the UK.

CWUR uses eight objective and robust indicators to rank the world’s top 1000 universities:

Criterion Measurement Weight Ranking by criteria
Quality of Education Measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals relative to the university’s size 25% 65
Alumni Employment Measured by the number of a university’s alumni who have held CEO positions at the world’s top companies relative to the university’s size 25% 158
Quality of Faculty Measured by the number of academics who have won major international awards, prizes, and medals 25% 205
Publications Measured by the number of research papers appearing in reputable journals 5% 117
Influence measured by the number of research papers appearing in highly-influential journals 5% 165
Citations Measured by the number of highly-cited research papers 5% 146
Broad Impact Measured by the university’s h-index 5% 138
Patents Measured by the number of international patent filings 5% 170

QS World University Rankings

Based on these criteria, University of Birmingham ranks the 76th university worldwide.

In terms of subjects and fields of study, University of Birmingham ranks best in:

  • By subject – Education and Training – number 27
  • By field – Arts and Humanities – number 63

This league table looks at 6 main criteria:

Criteria Weight Score
Academic reputation (based on a global survey) 40% 82.4
Employer reputation (based on a global survey) 10% 94.9
Student to faculty ratio 20% 60.4
Citations per faculty 20% 57.6
International faculty ratio 5% 85.1
International student ratio 5% 83.4
Overall 100% 74.6

The National Student Survey

The National Student Survey ranks universities based on students’ responses to a survey which assesses the following:

  • the quality of teaching
  • assessment and feedback
  • academic support
  • organization and management
  • learning resources
  • personal development
  • overall satisfaction
  • Student’s Union
  • NHS Practice Placements

In the case of University of Birmingham, student overall satisfaction is at 88%. A further analysis of the responses shows that students have answered on average with 4 out of 5 (satisfied) to most of the questions evenly, with less students expressing dissatisfaction with the various factors included within the criteria.

Birmingham City University

Birmingham City University occupies the following positions in the world ranking proposed by the various league tables:

World ranking Type of league table
N/A The Academic Ranking of World Universities
N/A The Times Higher Education World University Rankings
N/A The Professional Ranking of World Universities
N/A Centre for World University Rankings
N/A QS World University Rankings
20 The National Student Survey

As from the above, Birmingham City University is not mentioned in any table league, but figures in the National Student Survey.

The National Student Survey

The National Student Survey ranks universities based on students’ responses to a survey which assesses the following:

  • the quality of teaching
  • assessment and feedback
  • academic support
  • organization and management
  • learning resources
  • personal development
  • overall satisfaction
  • Student’s Union
  • NHS Practice Placements

In the case of Birmingham City University, student overall satisfaction is at 81%, with 243 other universities and higher education institutions ahead. A further analysis of the responses shows that on average 40%-50% of the students have answered 4 (out of 5) to all of the questions, while the rest of the answers are quite evenly dispersed between 5 and 3. Students are most satisfied with the quality of teaching, the learning resources and their personal development and less satisfied with the organisation and management of their course, the Students’ Union and the information received prior to starting their NHS placement, in the case of medicine students.

More about the university…

  • The university has a number of courses accredited by Creative Skillset, the government’s skills sector council for audio, visual and creative industries. It is also the Midlands’ accredited training centre for Apple’s Final Cut editing software.
  • The School of Media is regarded as the UK’s number-one media school to offer both theory- and production-based teaching,[65] and is ranked eleventh in The Guardian University Guide 2010.
  • For health and social care, Birmingham City University was awarded national recognition as a Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
  • In May 2010, the university achieved the highest mark, an Ofsted grade 1 for the quality of training and the management and quality assurance of the training it provides for both its primary and secondary teacher training courses.

Birmingham City Guide

Birmingham is the second largest student city in the UK, with five universities and more than 65,000 students who call it home. There is a wide range of things to do, meaning there is something for everyone.

City Centre

Nights Out

The city centre of Birmingham offers a variety of student events during the week. The best places to go are Broad Street, Digbeth and Acradian in China Town. Events for students happen every weeknight, where cheap drinks and entry to a range of clubs and bars are on offer. Broad Street has a range of clubs that host regular student nights and events. These include Gatecrasher, Players and Walkabout, to name a few. My favourite place to go on a Tuesday is Indi Bar at Arcadian, which plays funky house and soulful R&B. The atmosphere is really vibrant and offers drinks at a reasonable price (a double spirit and mixer is only £2!). Another firm favourite of mine is Rainbow in Digbeth. This venue has a variety of rooms playing different types of music to suit a range of people. They regularly host a variety of DJs for special nights.

If you a looking for somewhere with a more relaxed atmosphere and want to enjoy a cocktail or two with friends, I would definitely recommend both the Slug and Lettuce and Revolution. The Slug and Lettuce offers 2-for-1 cocktails every day and is situated at Brindley Place, which is one of Birmingham’s most stylish hotspots. Brindley Place can be found on the Water’s Edge and offers a diverse café and bar scene featuring elegant interiors, stylish terraces, canalside views and regular free live entertainment. Revolution is situated on Broad Street and also offers 2-for-1 cocktails. It turns into more of a nightclub in the evening and has a great atmosphere that allows you to dance all night long. I would definitely recommend getting their privilege card that lets you access a range of discounts and costs only £4 for a year!

In terms of getting around safely on a night out, I would recommend getting a taxi. There are a number of taxi companies serving the Birmingham area and they usually cost between £1.50 and £2 each per journey.

Places to Eat

The Bullring has a large amount of cafes, eateries and restaurants from which to choose. If you just want a snack or a full meal, there is something for everyone. I would absolutely go to Five Guys if you love a good burger. The burgers are amazing and you are able to choose as many toppings and sauces you want. There is also a wide range of drinks in the soda machine, including Raspberry Coke and Orange Coke! Just be warned, the prices are quite expensive, so maybe go there for a treat every now and again.

Another good place to eat is Pizza Express. Take advantage of having an NUS card as they give you 40% off your bill on Monday and Tuesday, and 20% on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday.  You can also get discounts using your NUS card at a variety of other chain restaurants, including ASK Italian and Zizzi’s.

Both The Mailbox and Brindley Place have a variety of chain and independent restaurants for you to choose from, including British, Oriental, French and Italian cuisines.

Shopping

If you love shopping, you have to go to the Bullring, which has more than 160 shops, including Selfridges, Zara and, of course, Topshop. Most shops offer student discounts and regularly increase these to encourage students to purchase.

Another good place to shop is the Custard Factory, which specialises in independent vintage shops that sell clothing, furniture and vinyl. It is known as Birmingham’s creative quarter and is definitely worth a visit.

Accommodation

Most student accommodation in the city centre of Birmingham is based on rooms grouped into shared flats. These are either university-operated or privately owned by companies such as Unite Students. Average weekly rents for a 42-week contract are around £120 a week.

SELLY OAK

Selly Oak is around 30 minutes from the city centre of Birmingham with frequent bus services and regular trains into the city. It also has one of the most concentrated student populations in the country, housing more than 30,000 students.

Places to eat

If you want something sweet, Cheeky Joe’s is the place to go. It is an American-inspired diner and Italian gelato-come-coffee shop. They serve a variety of sweet treats including milkshakes, waffles and traditional American sundaes. This place has a vibrant atmosphere with a 50s’ style interior and you can even choose the classic 50s’ music using the ‘Dime Selector’.

Selly Sausage is also a good place to go. It is a European-style café bar that serves a variety of food, including burgers, jackets and pancakes. This is the perfect place for students as it serves good quality food at low prices. You can get a burger with fries and salad for only £3.75! It also been named one of Britain’s top ten student eateries, which is more reason to go and try it.

Nights Out

There are a number of pubs and bars in Selly Oak, which are perfect for students. The Soak is a student hangout close to the University of Birmingham’s main entrance. They serve pub grub during the day and then it comes alive at night. They have ‘Karao-Jokie’ on Sunday nights, which is ideal for having a laugh with friends and letting your hair down.

Another pub to go to is The Bristol Pear; the best nights to go are Tuesdays and Thursdays. ‘Quids in’ is the event on a Tuesday and offers a range of drinks a lot cheaper than normal from 7pm. This includes a vodka and mixer for only £1.50. Thursday offers two cocktails for only £6, enabling you to have both a sophisticated and cheap night out with friends.

Urban Village Bar is a major bar in Selly Oak catering to students. They have a variety of events every night. ‘Pounded’ is every Monday and Tuesday night and offers a range of premium drinks at discounted prices. It is also the perfect place to have a laugh with your friends at the Quiz Night, held every Tuesday at 10pm with a grand prize of £100!

Shopping

Battery Retail Park is a small shopping area situated in Selly Oak. If you need DIY, homeware or clothes from Next, you should definitely go.

Accommodation

Living in Selly Oak is much cheaper than living in the city centre. Sharing a 2 to 4 bedroom house can cost an average of £70 per week. Selly Oak is a good place for students to live with a variety of pubs and eateries catering to students, and a satisfaction rate of 66%.

Perry Barr

Perry Barr is not far from the city centre of Birmingham and can be reached  by train in around 12 minutes. A return ticket costs £2.90 from Birmingham New Street and there are also frequent bus services. Perry Barr also has a large student population, with those from a number of Universities living there.

Places to eat

Talking Waffles specialises in fresh waffles, crepes, milkshakes and many other favourite desserts and is perfect for dessert lovers.  A delivery service is also available, making it a delicious but easy treat to share with your housemates.

Nights Out

The Hare and the Dog pub is a good place for students to go and offers a variety of deals. This is the same chain as the Bristol Pear in Selly Oak. ‘Quids in’ is on a Friday night here, allowing you to get drinks at a cheaper price from 7pm. There is a beer garden, pool tables and sports shown regularly on the big screen.

If you are looking for a more unusual night out, I would recommend going to the Greyhound Stadium situated in Perry Barr. There are a variety of offers and packages, including The Balti Dining Package for £12.50 per person (minimum of 4). This includes your admission, race card, a 2 course Balti Meal and a reserved table for the evening. This is the perfect evening out for something slightly different, rather than just going out drinking.

Shopping

The One Stop Shopping Centre has a variety of chain shops, including New Look, Dorothy Perkins and beauty stores such as Boots and Superdrug. There is also an Asda Superstore and Home Bargains where you can do your food shopping.

Accommodation

There is a variety of student houses in Perry Barr, ranging from one-bed houses to sharing with five other people. The average weekly cost of living here is around £61, with a student satisfaction rate of 52%.

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