A Guide To Living and Studying at the University of Birmingham

The red brick clock tower at the University of Birmingham.

Birmingham is a great city for students  – the 50,000 + student population in the city makes it a very student friendly site.  There are three Universities in Birmingham – Birmingham University, Aston University and City University (formerly University of Central England).

This guide will concentrate on Birmingham University, as that is the leading academic institution in the city.

When you arrive at Birmingham University you will notice its distinctive red brick architecture. This is the style of a number of civic universities built during the 19th Century Victorian era. Along with unis like Manchester and Sheffield these unis began to be called red brick unis, after their distinctive architecture.  The Red Brick Unis are considered a second rank in the UK universities, behind such ancient institutions as Oxford and Cambridge.

When you arrive at Birmingham Uni for the first time as a fresher, make sure you take time to walk around campus and just take in the lovely architecture. Take in the orderly beauty of the main quadrant in the centre of the uni, with the Great Hall, clock tower (called Old Joe) and library, all in beautiful alignment.

Most students at Birmingham Uni live in the Selly Oak area, which is placed for easy access to the uni, right next to it. There’s all the usual amenities in the Selly Oak area; it houses the types of shops and pubs that you would expect to service 20,000 students. The Gunbarrels pub on the Bristol road is a favourite haunt for Birmingham Uni students; the pub has weekly quizzes, live music plus a couple of pool tables. They also do the famous ‘burger and a pint’ for a cheap price. There are a number of other drinking holes in the Selly Oak area such as the Goose and the Bristol Pear, so be sure to shop around for the cheapest pint.

The City of Birmingham has a lot of interesting things to offer the average student – the nightlife especially. First of all don’t forget the Guild (Student Union) for parties and events every weekend – you can often find the cheapest drinks there. And it’s an easy walk home back to Selly Oak at the end of the evening.

For those wanting to venture into town, there is a wealth of bright lights and entertainment available. For big drinkers there is Broad Street, that haven for beer-monsters the Midlands over. There are many pubs, clubs and restaurants along this long stretch of inner city that welcomes anyone in search of a great night out. There is also a cinema at the top of Broad Street, which is the nearest cinema to Birmingham Uni.

An alternative to the more old school joys of Broad Street is the classy Mailbox, which as has variety of cafes, restaurants and bars to keep the more sophistication interested. There are also a couple of clubs. For shoppers there is the famous Harvey Nichols store there, packed full of luxury goods.

The last major nightspot area in Birmingham town centre is the Arcadian. This nightlife area is home to a few bars, Chinese and Mexican restaurants, plus the Glee Comedy Club.

So Birmingham has a lot offer students, both in terms of education, but also in terms of entertainment.  Check it out!

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