The first word

In case you hadn’t heard, we are The Times and The Sunday Times University of the Year 2013–14. After being shortlisted in 2012, I must confess to hoping this would be our year. So why did we win?

Firstly, our overall quality, building on our status as an institution of excellence for more than a century. Secondly, we are innovative. Our unconditional offer strategy brought even more outstanding students to Birmingham. We made bold steps in the international arena, and launched innovations such as the Rolls-Royce High Temperature Research Centre and our University Training School (UTS). 

Thirdly, we made strides in every metric being measured – from student recruitment and admissions, to winning circa £100 million in capital awards to support our teaching and infrastructure. The University now sits comfortably in the top 20 of all the national league tables; we maintained our overall satisfaction score of 88% in the National Student Survey; and 93% of our graduates are in work or further study six months after graduating. These, and of course our  momentous Circles of Influence fundraising campaign, are the collective achievements of everyone in the University community, including our alumni, and I take great pride in that. 

This does not mean we will become complacent. Our campus investment includes UTS, the new Dental Hospital, a new sports centre and library, the Institute for Forest Research, and new student accommodation. We are developing new ways of delivering teaching and training; including blended and distance learning, and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs); while an increased focus on postgraduate recruitment will better reflect our exceptional research standing. 

We are not a boutique university. There is not one single thing that makes us good: it is the sum of our parts. We are getting better at knowing what we are good at; and at knowing what good is. I would like to congratulate you all on winning University of the Year, and thank you for the part you continue to play in our success, which I hope you will share with your family and friends.

Best wishes,

Professor David Eastwood

Vice-Chancellor and donor to the University