Today (Friday 25th March 2011), the University of Birmingham announced major new investments in activities to enhance the student experience, extend programmes that widen participation in Higher Education as well as providing generous financial support for students from lower income backgrounds.

Professor David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham said:

“The University of Birmingham is a leading global university which offers an inspirational student experience. Over the last 3 years we have invested in excess of £200 million in our estate, including state-of-the-art learning facilities and in addition we will invest £600million in a wide range of transformational projects to enhance further the high quality experience that Birmingham students receive.”

“Our state of the art Bramall concert hall and music department will open in 2012; we have plans to invest £40 million in new world-class sports facilities and the development of a new central library building for our extensive collections.”

“We are investing £3.5m in sector-leading employability services which will provide Birmingham students with access to mentoring by some of the University's most successful alumni, internships in the UK and overseas and specialist staff offering unique careers guidance tailored to each academic subject area: ensuring that Birmingham graduates continue to succeed after university. We are also building on our personal academic tutoring system to provide the support and guidance that students need to achieve their full academic potential.”

“Building from our record as one of the most successful Russell Group universities in promoting fair access we will continue to demonstrate innovation and leadership in widening participation.”

“From 2012/13 we are planning to introduce enhanced financial support for students from lower income backgrounds and increase outreach activities to promote fair access. Our proposed progressive and targeted financial aid package will offer support to over 4000 students and will increase our investment in widening access to over £12m by 2015/6. For the most financially disadvantaged students with family incomes below £16k our support package would alleviate the primary upfront costs of Higher Education: a student's accommodation, by offering a £4300 award equivalent to the average annual cost of our catered halls of residence or alternatively a partial fee waiver. We will offer tapered financial support for students with family incomes between £16k and £42k.”

“We intend to expand our flagship Access to Birmingham (A2B) widening participation scheme beyond the West Midlands. The A2B programme involves the university working in partnership with schools to help students from families and communities who have little or no experience of Higher Education find out about studying at university and to encourage and support their applications. We are committed to continuing Aim Higher activities after Government funding has been withdrawn, and are seeking to expand our ‘Forward Thinking’ progressive programmes which work with gifted and talented students from lower income backgrounds over the course of their secondary education.”

“In the face of Government funding cuts, in order to make this investment and continue to provide the highest quality experience and enhance this further, from 2012/13 we intend to charge full-time UK and EU entrants to our undergraduate courses a fee of £9000 per annum – subject to approval by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA).”

The University of Birmingham is a truly vibrant, global community and an internationally-renowned institution. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than four thousand international students from nearly 150 different countries. The University is home to approximately 28,000 students. With more than 7,500 postgraduate students from across the world, Birmingham is one of the most popular universities for postgraduate study in the UK. The University is the eighth largest employer in the Birmingham/Solihull sub-region and plays an integral role in the economic, social and cultural growth of local and regional communities; working closely with businesses and organisations, employing approximately 6,000 staff and providing 10,000 graduates annually. The University contributes £662 million to the City of Birmingham and £779 million to the West Midlands region, with an annual income of more than £462 million.

For more information, please contact Benjamin Hill, PR Manager, University of Birmingham, Telephone - +44 (0)121 414 5134.