We are delighted that Birmingham is The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013–14. But why did we receive the title and what does it mean for our students, staff and alumni?
Five members of the University community share their views:
Professor Adam Tickell, Provost and Vice-Principal
‘Elated is the only word to describe my response when I heard Birmingham was named University of the Year. I believe our ability for enabling innovation and entrepreneurial ideas is one of the main reasons we were chosen.’
The undergraduate student:
Edem Cleland-Awity (First year, International Relations with Economics)
‘I heard the news before I arrived here for my first year and I was very happy because it confirmed I’d made the right choice. I hope my time here will be unforgettable and intellectually stimulating.’
The postgraduate student:
Becky Hair (Physiotherapy, Pre-registration)
‘This is a brilliant accolade for the University that will certainly help with job applications. My experience here just confirms the University’s quality; from lectures to placements, everything has been of a really high standard.’
Doug Ward (Senior Research Fellow, School of Cancer Sciences)
‘With more than 100 universities in the UK competing for research funding and the best students, anything that improves our reputation is valuable. For me, Birmingham stands out because of the quality of the biomedical research and the infrastructure to translate our findings to patient care.’
Dr Carla Skinner (BSc Geological Sciences, 1966)
‘I felt a mixture of pride and satisfaction when I heard Birmingham had won the title; it was good to see our achievements being recognised. I’d like to think that the A2B scheme, which I have supported since its inception, was one of the innovations influencing the decision.’
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In addition to overall quality and performance against all the key measures, it was Birmingham’s approaches to challenges including student recruitment and graduate employability that impressed The Good University Guide expert panel.
Campus: Ask an alumnus what makes Birmingham so special and the response will almost certainly include the campus. Thanks to our incredible supporters and University investment, the Aston Webb semi-circle has been transformed with the completion of the spectacular Bramall Music Building. Plans are now under way for campus developments including a brand-new library, sports centre, University Training School and modern student accommodation. This investment in facilities will transform the University’s famous Edgbaston home, improve the student experience and extend services available to the local community.
Student recruitment: Birmingham addressed the impact of higher tuition fees on student recruitment by making unconditional offers to 1,000 students predicted AAA grades at A level in 2013. This helped the University recruit some of the brightest school-leavers in the UK, while taking the pressure off the sixth-formers when they sat their summer examinations in June.
Alumni: Alumni support is crucial and has a huge impact, from mentoring students to making gifts to the Circles of Influence fundraising campaign. Just one example of alumni support in action is the Access to Birmingham scholarships programme; through which your donations have given 435 students from families with little experience of higher education the chance to study at Birmingham since 2007.
Birmingham Fellows: The Birmingham Fellows scheme was introduced to help give early-career academics security to develop their ideas. Since 2011, your gifts have helped more than 60 outstanding post-doctoral researchers come to the University on a trajectory to become the next generation of research and academic leaders.
Employability: The University is determined to give its students the best chance of success and 92.8% of graduates are employed or in further study six months after leaving. Students are offered extensive support through our Careers Network with initiatives including mentoring and internships provided by alumni, and a range of bursaries helping to fund work experience placements. Many other universities are following this example by introducing similar schemes.
International: With almost 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries, and 31% of academic staff from overseas, Birmingham is a truly global university. Centres and research collaborations exist in key territories including Brazil, China, India and the US, and the introduction of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) is digitally disseminating research expertise from Birmingham across the globe.
World-leading research: Research at Birmingham has led to the development of new cancer drugs, innovative materials used in aerospace and automotive industries and better techniques to help entrepreneurs succeed in business. Collaborations with academic colleagues both within and outside the University, and partnerships with businesses turn academic ideas into projects that benefit society.