- eating out
Choosing Birmingham as a location to continue your studies is a great choice, which is why the city has such a large student population. There is a population of more than 60,000 students in Brum, enjoying the vibrant culture, affordable living and student deals in local establishments. Of course, as a student, you will also appreciate the number of excellent universities to choose from in Birmingham.
Aston University received its royal charter from Queen Elizabeth II on April 22, 1966. Located in the city centre, it pioneered the concept of a placement year, allowing students to gain work experience in their field between their penultimate and final years of their degree. In 2017, Aston began to award degree apprenticeship graduates, becoming the first university in the UK to do so. It is known as a leading UK university for technical professions and business.
Birmingham City University
Birmingham City University has three main campuses and serves around 24,000 students from 80 countries, making it a large, diverse, and exciting place to study. Courses offered include art and design, business, computing, education, engineering, healthcare, law, and much more. Students from Birmingham City University are highly employable, with 97% in employment or further study within six months of graduating.
University of Birmingham
Birmingham University is a highly prestigious school and founding member of The Russel Group and Universitas 21. It received its royal charter in 1900 and was the first redbrick university to receive university status. Like BCU, Birmingham University’s students are highly employable, with 94.3% of undergraduate students in employment or further studies within 6 months of graduating. It ranks in the top 100 global universities in the 2021 QS World University Rankings. Birmingham University is also a 15-minute walk away from Almero Student Beech Gardens.
Newman University first opened its doors in 1968. At the time, it was a small Catholic teaching training college with 182 students. Today, it has six research centres serving nearly 3,000 students. A newer university, it features purpose-built modern buildings. Over £20 million has been spent upgrading the campus for students, including a state-of-the-art library. The school is devoted to developing students on a personal level, beyond just the classroom.
University College Birmingham
University College specialises in vocational courses in the sectors of higher education and further education. It was awarded full university status in 2012, at the same time as Newman. It maintains excellent relationships with industry at the local, national, and international levels, and is well-respected by employers, allowing students to develop the necessary attributes and professional skills to build a successful career.
As a student living in Birmingham, you will want to do much more than just study. You will soon discover that there are a variety of things to do, including several that are either free or student-budget friendly. Here are some of the activities that you might want to consider:
Walk the Tolkien Trail
Did you know that Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were written in Birmingham? JRR Tolkien grew up in Birmingham, and several locations in his books were inspired by areas he played in when he was young. Try visiting the official Tolkien Trail, a popular spot in Mosely Bog, regularly visited by fans of the series.
See the Botanical Gardens
Just a 20-minute bus ride from the New Street Railway station, the botanical gardens are a site covering 15-acres. Here you will find exotic flora, a Bonsai garden, four glasshouses representing tropical, subtropical, Mediterranean, and arid locales, and much more.
Visit the Library of Birmingham
Even if you are not exactly a book lover (but who isn’t?), the Library of Birmingham has a great deal to offer, with photography exhibitions, poetry readings, and other performances. You could even simply enjoy the view from the seventh-floor garden terrace with a coffee from one of the library’s cafés.
Explore the Canals
In case you didn’t know, Birmingham has a network of canals said to be larger than that of Venice. At its peak, Birmingham Canal Navigations contained 257 km of canals, though today only 160 km are navigable, with most of the traffic being tourists and local narrowboats.
Museums and Aquariums in Birmingham
Birmingham also features some excellent museums and aquariums. The National Sea Life Centre features the only 360° Ocean Tunnel in the UK. From within, you can get spectacular views of hundreds of tropical fish, a giant turtle, and of course, sharks. You can also meet two rescued Alaskan sea otters, Ozzy and Ola—the first sea otters in the UK.
If your interests lean more toward museums, you have several to choose from. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is famous for its collection of Pre-Raphaelite works but also features Egyptian artefacts and a mini-museum for children. Like fossils? The Lapworth Museum of Geology has fossils, rocks, and minerals dating back to 3.5 million years ago.
If neither of those grabs your attention, there are many other options including the ThinkTank Birmingham Science Museum, The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, The Coffin Works, the National Motorcycle Museum, and many more.
Birmingham’s reputation for excellent food is growing, as is the number of food establishments wishing to make their mark. Whether you’re looking for haute cuisine or cheap-eats (but still very tasty), you can find it all here. Some of the restaurants we recommend include:
Starting off as a sandwich shop in 2013, Adam’s developed an intensely loyal following and outgrew its original location. This Michelin star restaurant now offers contemporary fine dining in its location on Waterloo Street.
While the events of 2020 forced many of us to think about our “bubble” of family and friends, Craft had already created a terrace with bubbles of their own. These heated/air-conditioned pods can accommodate 8 to 10 diners while they enjoy fine dining ranging from modern takes on British classics to flame-grilled BBQ.
Original Patty Men
Craving American comfort-food style burgers? Grab a classic bacon cheeseburger or an Alabama Slammer. Vegans don't need to miss out either as you’ll find something that packs a punch like ‘The Vegan One’, a delicious deep-fried pickled tofu burger.
First-rate Italian cuisine from a family-run restaurant. This is a great spot to bring a date or bring family to if they come to visit to enjoy a generous portion of fresh pasta or fantastic pizza, baked in an authentic pizza oven (imported from Italy)!
A tiny café serving up big portions, Tamu offers high-quality ingredients with excellent presentation. Vegetarians and vegans will find plenty to enjoy here, as will anyone looking for pancakes and French toast for brunch.
A huge portion of Birmingham’s population are under the age of 25. With so many students living here, you can bet that the nightlife is something special! Digbeth offers some of the city’s best nightlife.
Digbeth Dining Club
Grab some street food at Digbeth Dining Club, a multi award-winning event and venue operator turning some of the Midlands most unique venues, into vibrant, street-food destinations. Founded in 2012 with 3 permanent locations where vendors offer regional cuisines see their full calendar here.
Also in Digbeth you’ll find craft beers and the opportunity for late-night clubbing. Another great location to check out is The Mill, where live music is played and has an open-top roof garden.
The Tunnel Club
Another great spot for live music is The Tunnel Club, an industrial venue for club nights and other events in the archways beneath a railway line. It’s perfect for music lovers with a huge sound system.
Need something a little more family-friendly? Try Birmingham Hippodrome where you will be able to watch a range of live performances, including manysuitable for younger viewers. Closer to the Christmas season, the Hippodrome also hosts a pantomime (a popular British Christmas tradition where casts perform a comedy-version of well-known fairy tales).
Whatever your preference or budget, you will find it in Birmingham. While Birmingham is known for its universities and academic opportunities, there’s also something for everyone in the cultural experiences and nightlife available.