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Birmingham city guide 

As a student in the UK, you’ve got lots of choices when it comes to selecting a city and university that’s right for you - every major city seems to have multiple different locations to study, with different specialities to suit every student’s chosen education path.One of the UK’s major university cities is Birmingham, where there are five universities and colleges to choose from, helping you to find a course, setup, and location that you feel comfortable with. For many, the move to university can be the first time that you move away from home, which in itself can be pretty daunting - that’s even before you start to factor in the fact that you’re studying for a degree that’ll contribute towards shaping your future, so it’s important to have help and support, wherever available, alongside your studies. 

Here at Housemates, we’re passionate about helping students to have the best university experience, which is why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to studying in Birmingham, which should help you to settle in and feel at home in no time.If you’re on the hunt for the best student housing and student accommodation for your upcoming year at university, be sure to check out the available properties here at Housemates- our fast booking system and wide range of rooms make it easier than ever before to find the best student living spaces in Birmingham. For more information about being a student in Birmingham, or to simply learn more about the city, keep on reading our guide below! 

Moving to Birmingham?

Students come from all over the world to study in the UK, so, naturally, the UK’s major cities are filled with people from a multitude of different places, which brings a wide range of cultures together in one area.In Birmingham’s case, this creates a fantastic environment for students to live in - the city feels vibrant, full of life, and prime for exploring once you’re settled into your new home away from home

As the UK’s second-biggest city, there’s obviously going to be lots to see, do, and experience, so it’s impossible to talk about all of them in this guide, but we’re going to give it our best shot in getting you up to speed on a few of the things that we love about Birmingham. Hopefully, you’ll have enough of an idea of where to go and where to avoid after reading our Student’s Guide to Birmingham that you’ll be able to get out and start socialising with your fellow students straight away! We’ll also help you to get to grips with some of the less exciting - but infinitely more practical - parts of the city, such as transport, places to eat, and places to study too, ensuring that you’re fully prepared for your time in the midlands. 

Areas you might be living in

Selly Oak is one of the most popular student living areas

If you’re looking for an area that’s booming with student life, Selly Oak is probably the area that’s going to suit you the most. Selly Oak is widely known as Birmingham’s main student hub, with lots of apartments, houses, and student accommodation options to suit students of all tastes. In particular, Selly Oak is a popular choice with students entering their second and third years of study, usually when they’re moving out of Halls and into private student housing for the first time. Unlike many areas that are predominantly tailored to students, Selly Oak is really amenity-heavy, with things such as supermarkets, eat-in and takeaway restaurants, and bars all found nearby, meaning you never have to go too far from where you’re living to find what you need, or if you just want a few casual drinks rather than a night out on the town. 

Recent developments in the area have allowed the city to continue to grow and offer more services to the students living in the area. As a Selly Oak resident, you’ll have access to the Selly Oak Shopping Park, a new Sainsbury’s supermarket, an M&S Food Hall, and even a variety of international supermarkets and stores, giving you access to cuisines from cultures from around the world. If you’re not feeling that adventurous, you can pop to the local Aldi or Tesco to do your shopping, where you’ll be able to keep costs low and fill the fridge for the next couple of weeks. 

In addition to being close to lots of handy shops and facilities, there’s the obvious bonus of being surrounded by like-minded people thanks to the large student population in this area of Birmingham, making it easier to socialise, get to know people and make friends, which is a huge benefit when moving to an unfamiliar location. 

Harborne offers something a little more relaxed 

Out towards the edge of the University of Birmingham campus, you’ll find yourself situated in an area called Harborne, which is a small village that’s perfectly placed for students who are living and studying at one of the unis in the city. If you’re looking for quieter settings that give you the option to go out on the town when you want to, but stay out of the way when you aren’t in the mood, the slightly quieter area of Harborne is a student area that’ll be well suited to you. 

If you’re a medical student, Harborne is easily the most convenient location for you to live; you’ll be placed just outside of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, which is one of the main hospital trusts for learning in England, ensuring that it’s easy to get to your placements and that you’ll have top-class support whilst you’re studying for your degree. 

As with any student area, cheap drinks and cheerful food are easy to find in Harborne, with many different bars, restaurants, takeaways, and classic pubs dotted around the area. From pizza and pasta to coffees and cocktails, you’re sure to find a little bit of everything close to home. For the best student discounts, The Plough has to be one of the best locations - the pub has bars indoors and outdoors, lots of food and drink options, and you’ll be able to be conservative with your money, which can be one of the biggest challenges that you’ll have to tackle at uni. 

Moseley and Kings Heath are the perfect places for creative types

If it’s a suburban lifestyle that you’re looking for during your time in Birmingham, there are plenty of areas that are sure to be of interest, but few that hit the spot quite as well as Moseley and Kings Heath. These villages sit beside each other just outside of Selly Oak, which is another popular student area that we’ve covered above. For the more creative students attending university in Birmingham, Moseley is one of the more popular areas to choose to live in - it’s close to lots of bars, restaurants, and markets, offering lots to do and see on each day of the week. What makes the area a hub for creatives is the large number of independent shops and restaurants that are found along the quiet streets - the vibe that these places have is perfect for students who are looking for a new muse or creative spark. 

Moseley and Kings Heath find themselves ideally located for students who want to be close to the university campus for easy access to their classes and are looking for an atmosphere that’s a little more laid back than the city centre. Whilst uni might be considered a non-stop party for some, there is plenty of studying to be done so you’ll want to ensure that your living arrangements help you to make the most of your education. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a place to let your hair down every once in a while, however, with popular pubs such as the Prince of Wales and restaurants like The Cuban Embassy right on your doorstep. 

City centre living for students in Birmingham

Birmingham is known for its vibrant city centre, which is a bustling hub of culture, art, music, and activity that’ll keep you entertained all year round. As with most city centres in the UK, Birmingham is home to lots of shops, malls, bars, pubs, restaurants, and more, making it a wonderful place to explore during your university experience. If you’re the type of person that likes to be involved in everything that’s going on around the city, where better to live than right there in the thick of the action! There are lots of student accommodation options and private student housing in Birmingham, so you’re sure to be able to find the perfect place to live whilst you’re studying at one of the city’s top universities. 

No matter whether you’re looking for a night of indie dance floors at Snobs or some throwback classics down at Popworld, there’s something for everyone in the centre of Birmingham, meaning you’ll never have to stray too far from your apartment to have a good night. Of course, this central location also makes it incredibly easy to get in and out of the city for when you’re travelling back home to visit family too, which is another important factor to consider. When you’re thinking about getting out of the city, you’ll be able to do so by train, bus, car, or aeroplane, as every form of transport operates out of the centre of Birmingham. This makes the city very accessible for all students, even international students who are travelling from overseas to study in the UK. 

Exploring the city

Once you’ve got a place secured at a Birmingham university, it’s good to have an idea of what there is to do and see in the city, as well as a few recommendations for things like restaurants and bars. With a few recommended hotspots in mind, you’ll be able to hit the ground running as soon as you’ve settled into your new home away from home - of course, you won’t have to stick to these recommendations and you’re sure to find a few places of your own that you’ll enjoy!

To help make things easier, we’ve put together our top picks for eating and drinking in Birmingham, including everything from pubs, bars, restaurants, and takeaways to help keep you entertained, well-fed, and refreshed all year long. With different people having different tastes, we thought it would be best to present options from each price range, from high-end eateries to budget meals that won’t break the bank.

Luckily for students in Birmingham, it’s never hard to find the right place to spend your afternoons and evenings with your friends  - it’s one of the UK’s busiest cities and best nightlife scenes, so you’ll always be able to find the night out that you desire in the heart of England’s second city. 

Read on below to find Housemates’ top recommendations for eating and drinking whilst you’re a student in Birmingham, or, alternatively, check out our property listings if you’re on the lookout for high-quality private student accommodation options in the city for the upcoming academic year!

What are the best restaurants in Birmingham?

The Balti Triangle serves Birmingham’s best curry

Sitting just south of the city centre is one of Birmingham’s prized culinary locations, The Balti Triangle. This infamous area of the city is loved for its array of Indian cuisine options and Birmingham’s own balti, a curry that was born right in the city of Birmingham. The Balti Triangle is an area that’s got an unusually high concentration of restaurants and takeaways, making it the number one spot to grab the best curry that the city has to offer. Of course, it’s not just these delicious balti curries that you’ll find in the triangle - the area is packed full of restaurants putting their spin on traditional Indian dishes, so you can expect to find beautiful breads, rice dishes, plenty of spice, and even some contemporary takes on classic meals whilst you’re exploring this area in the south of Birmingham

Our top recommended dish in The Balti Triangle is, rather unsurprisingly, the traditional balti curry with a side of rice. The balti is a fantastic dish that’s usually made with chicken or lamb but can be made vegetarian upon request at most of the restaurants in the triangle. When tucking into your balti, you can expect an explosion of flavour to occur in your mouth, with the combination of tasty spices, rich sauce, and a unique thickness that only the balti bowl can give. For those who aren’t big fans of spicy food, don’t worry - the balti isn’t too fiery and is sure to leave you feeling full, warm, and satisfied. 

Birmingham’s best brunch at The Lost & Found

If you’re anything like us, you love a spot of brunch - it’s the perfect way to enjoy a few drinks with friends without going too crazy, unless you want to! Of course, the perfect brunch needs the perfect location, and for students living in Birmingham, this has to be The Lost & Found. Finding the ideal spot between fine dining, comfort eating, and fantastic drinks options, The Lost & Found offers a little bit of something for everyone, helping you to plan the perfect afternoon out with your friends, with minimum fuss. 

This botanical themed bar in the heart of the city centre is a great place to bring your group when you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary. The Lost & Found is not your usual modern bar, instead offering a mixture of contemporary style, Victorian charm, and botanical garden vibes to any brunch occasion. For groups who are looking to really step things up a notch, you can even head to The Lost & Found’s secret room, which is a private bar for you and your friends that’s ideal for parties and celebrations of any kind! If you’re looking to turn your brunch into something a little boozier, you can upgrade your meal to feature unlimited cocktails such as the iconic Aperol Spritz - the perfect refreshing beverage to set you up for an evening of fun with your newest mates. If cocktails aren’t your thing, there are plenty of spirits and beers available too, as well as some great soft drinks and mocktails for those who don’t drink or the designated driver (we salute you!).

Independent street food vendors at Digbeth Dining Club

One of Birmingham’s most popular places to eat is the Digbeth Dining Club, which offers patrons a range of different independent street food vendors to choose from in one of the city’s most urban surroundings. The award-winning street food operation had previously been operating out of Lower Trinity Street but has since announced plans to move to their new Herbert’s Yard locationto ensure that they can continue to offer visitors the best possible experience. The new site will feature a 200-capacity events venue and will be ideally located beside Austin Park, giving you the perfect place to take a breather and grab some food during a day of exploring. 

The Digbeth Dining Club is a previous winner of the Best Street Food Event at the British Street Food Awards, showing top-class service, which the operation has been offering to its satisfied customers for over a decade. The venue is open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and has a huge mixture of foods available to ensure that everyone can enjoy whichever cuisine they fancy. From independent stalls to world cuisine outlets, Digbeth Dining Club provides you and your group with a laid-back experience that’s ideal for a chilled night out that doesn’t cost a fortune. 

Check out the Digbeth Dining Club website to view the different locations that the operator runs, including three full-sized street vendor dining spaces across the city of Birmingham - you can find a list of their current vendors by clicking here, where you can also check out the top dishes and drinks on offer before you arrive at the venue. 

Birmingham’s best bars and pubs

Football, pool, and great cocktails at The Bristol Pear

When you’re going out for a few drinks, it doesn’t always have to be a big night out on the town - sometimes, you just prefer a few relaxed drinks in a setting where you can enjoy the company of your friends and housemates. For us, The Bristol Pear is the perfect student bar, offering a chilled-out sofa area, huge screens for popular sporting events, and a quirky photo booth that allows you to capture some funny snaps to help you remember your night’s antics. All this combined with the super cheap drink prices makes The Bristol Pear the ideal place for students to head out to at the weekends, or after studying is over during the week. The Bristol Pear isn’t just your bog-standard student haunt, however, with funky decoration, unique artwork, and friendly staff making for a fantastic experience each time you make your way through the doors. 

The Bristol Pear is popular with students for the array of drinks available at incredibly reasonable prices, with a good selection of beers, spirits, and cocktails on offer to help you quench your thirst and loosen the load. In particular, it’s the tin can cocktails that students seem to flock to The Bristol Pear for; these quirky drinks perfectly fit the aesthetic and vibe of the bar, and they don’t taste too shabby either! Located in the popular student area of Selly Oak, The Bristol Pear comes equipped with a beer garden and pool tables to keep you entertained from the early hours of the morning through to the late hours of the evening. 

Experience a touch of Budapest at The Ruin

If you’re looking for something that gives you a feeling unlike any other bar in Birmingham, The Ruin is perfect. Whilst it doesn’t have the neon lights and contemporary decor that you might find in bars such as Be At One or Dirty Martini, The Ruin has a vibe that’s cool, quirky, and a great place to spend your evenings surrounded by good mates. Inspired by the iconic ruin bars of Budapest, which are one of the biggest tourist attractions in Europe, The Ruin bar is built in a Grade II listed building that’s completely inspired by shabby-chic. You’ll find exposed wood, ruined doors, a beaten-up fireplace, and even a chandelier, but it all adds to the overall charm that The Ruin gives to everyone that visits. 

What The Ruin may lack in aesthetics, it more than makes up for in terms of drink selection, with a fantastic array of beers, ales, ciders, and bottles on offer to tickle the fancy of casual drinkers and beer enthusiasts alike. No matter whether you’re looking for a smooth pint of Guinness, a tangy Blue Moon, or a crisp and refreshing Pravha, The Ruin has got it covered. In addition to the selection, the price of the drinks are also appealing, which means you’ll have a stellar night out without breaking the bank, and you can even head out to the outdoor seating areas if it gets too warm inside during the summer months! When it comes to relaxed drinking in a quirky setting, there’s nowhere quite like The Ruin. 

Catch the latest bands at The Flapper

The UK is famed for its live music scene, but it’s not all arenas and stadiums that help to make that happen - without grassroots venues giving smaller artists the chance to perform, we’d likely never have seen bands like Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Coldplay, and Blur gracing the biggest stages in the world. One such grassroots venue is The Flapper in the city centre; it’s an independent venue that hosts shows, nights, and gigs on a regular basis, forming an important part of Birmingham’s nightlife culture. The Flapper is located right beside the canal in the centre of the city and is a two-storey venue that’s become something of a culturally significant place for fans of alt and rock music in the midlands. Upstairs, away from the live music, you’ll find a brilliant bar that’s packed full of things to do; you can have a game of pool, try your hand at pinball, or just sit back and grab a cold pint as you listen to the music from downstairs. 

On the lower floor, you have the main part of the venue where all of the gigs are held - this room has seen many faces pass through, from the smallest local acts to big names who are now playing the biggest festivals in the world - you never know, you might catch the next big thing before they take off right there in The Flapper! Tickets for gigs at The Flapper are available online or on the doors, but you’ll want to get down there early if you’re looking to catch some of the bigger artists on the venue line-up. 

How to get around Birmingham

As Birmingham is such a big city, getting around can be something of a challenge at first, particularly when you aren’t familiar with the bus routes, the ticketing systems, and the various areas of the city that you might need to travel to during your time at university. Of course, it’s likely that you won’t even be from Birmingham at all when you choose to study at one of the universities in the city, with many students coming from across the country, or even further in the case of the many international students that choose to study in the midlands. With that in mind, it’s important that you know how to get into the city and around the city once you’re here, otherwise it may get a little confusing, especially if you’re a first-time visitor. 

To help out all the students that are coming to Birmingham for the coming academic year, we’ve detailed all of the different transportation methods that you might be faced with, as well as our suggestions for getting around the city with optimum ease. If you’re looking for some tips on how to best move around the city without getting lost or breaking the bank on taxis, we’ve got it covered - simply read on below to learn more about buses, trams, trains, and more in the Birmingham area. Alternatively, you can check out the local transport authority website, where you’ll be able to keep up to date with any disruptions or planned expansions that might impact your regular journeys. 

Travelling around Birmingham by bus 

The bus is a fairly common type of transport that we’re sure you’re all familiar with, but in Birmingham, we do find that this is one of the most reliable types of transport that you can use as a student, unlike in other major cities where congestion and traffic can cause the services to be late and unreliable on a regular basis. In Birmingham, however, the buses are regular, mostly on time, and incredibly affordable, particularly for the student population. The service is mainly operated by National Express West Midlands, which offers comprehensive coverage across the city region and surrounding areas, with routes heading to pretty much every zone in Birmingham. If you’re stuck trying to find the right bus route for your journey to university, the bars, or back home to your student accommodation, there are a couple of essential apps that you’ll want to ensure are on your phone at all times - these are the Birmingham Journey Planner and the Citymapper app. With these trusty apps on your mobile phone, you’re always just a few clicks away from finding the fastest bus route back to your house or apartment. 

In terms of price, it really couldn’t get much cheaper than taking the bus around Birmingham - for a single fare you’re looking at paying around £2.30, or £4.50 if you’re looking for an all-day ticket, as there are no return tickets available. This means that you can do your full day of travel around the city, from early in the morning to the late hours of the night, all for less than a fiver! If you’re planning to use the bus regularly over the course of a term at uni, the smart option is to invest in a termly pass, which is available to students for £165, which works out at around £1.28 per day - you’re not going to find travel cheaper than that!

Trains make Birmingham incredibly easy to access

If your journey is a little further afield than the areas surrounding Birmingham, you may need to enter the city by train, which will be no problem thanks to the three major train stations that are located across the area. Snow Hill, Moor Street, and Birmingham New Street are all located in different areas of the city and offer fast, reliable transport in and out of the city, with New Street station acting as the main hub between Birmingham and the rest of the UK, giving easy access routes to cities such as London, Manchester, Liverpool, and lots more! For international students coming to the city, the active train service makes it easier to get to and from the airports around the country, meaning you may be able to fly into another major city rather than flying directly to Birmingham when arriving in the UK. 

Luckily for students, Birmingham’s train stations are actually ideally located in relation to the university campuses, meaning you won’t have to be walking for miles to hop on the train to your destination. For students at Aston University, Snow Hill is just around the corner. Trains from here will take you out into the suburbs or back towards the centre of the city, depending on where you need to go.

For students attending BCU, you’ll have Moor Street station right on your doorstep, helping you get to and from your classes with ease, ensuring that you’ll never have to miss a lecture during the academic year. University of Birmingham students have a special treat in store when it comes to travelling by train - there’s a station directly at the campus, built specifically to serve the university! This is the first time that a station has been built for a uni campus, so if you want a seamless travel experience during your university stay, UoB is the place for you.

The latest tram developments have massively improved the service 

The Metro is Birmingham’s tram system, which operates between Wolverhampton and Birmingham, covering many of the major areas that lie between the two. This simple transport method requires no hassle at all - it’s a simple hop on and hop off system and has undergone some fairly substantial improvements in recent years to improve the service and expand the routes. These improvements included expansion passed Snow Hill train station, which had previously been where services terminated, through into the centre of the city into the redeveloped Grand Central station. There are currently plans for the service to be enhanced and expanded even further. 

In terms of cost, the tram service can be a little hit and miss - you’ll be presented with different prices based on your current location and intended destination, so it’s hard to know exactly what your travel will cost without going to the ticket machines. If you’re getting a simple day return ticket, this will be a set amount, with a stage 2 pass, for example, costing around £5.50. For a single city centre trip, you can get a standard city hop ticket, which is single-use and will set you back by just a quid. This can be a convenient way to rush across the centre when you’re in a hurry, but won’t be a sustainable way to travel in Birmingham. For students who are expecting to make daily and various commutes across Birmingham, the £800 annual pass is the smartest purchase; it may seem like a costly investment at first, but the amount that you’ll save over the year will severely outweigh that. If you’re a student who’ll be using a combination of The Metro and buses, you can purchase combined tickets that may save you a couple of pounds each time you travel, so take a look at these online before you travel

Flying into Birmingham is super simple

For international students, the ability to fly into the city that they’ll be studying at is vital - without an airport that accepts flights from their home country, it becomes incredibly difficult to get to your destination, and you’ll likely start to look for universities that are more accessible for you and your family, should they want to visit. Luckily for students who are looking to spend the next year in Birmingham, the airport is just a few miles outside of the city centre, making it incredibly easy for foreign students to get to their university and accommodation without any stress or hassle. Birmingham Airport operates flights across the globe, from domestic flights to international flights, including locations such as Dubai, Asia, continental Europe, and more!

As an international student, the quality of the airport that you will be flying into will be a big factor in your decision to move; you’ll likely be flying to and from other countries more frequently than most, so you need to ensure that you’re able to get regular and reliable return flights whenever you need them. From Birmingham Airport, you have access to several countries and continents across the globe, as well as the option to connect to larger UK airports, such as those in London and Manchester, for long-haul flights to countries that are further away or more difficult to reach. Check out the Birmingham Airport website for more details regarding the destinations that they currently depart to, as well as the frequency of the flights to your home destination. 

Getting to know the city

Birmingham is a city that’s got lots to see and do, as well as a long history that’s truly fascinating, but if you’re also trying to find time to work and study in between exploring your new home, it can be pretty tough to go and see everything that you want to see before it’s time to head home for the summer. To help you maximise your time in Birmingham, we’ve put together some of our favourite sights and attractions that we think you should check out whilst you’re in the city - of course, not all of these will be to your taste or interest, but we think they’re great places to check out regardless. As you’d imagine, this list is purely just our own suggestions, so be sure to go and try out everything that interests you that we haven’t included on this list too - you might even find your new favourite place whilst you’re exploring the road less travelled...

If you’re a student who is still on the lookout for student accommodation in Birmingham for the coming semesters, be sure to check out the rooms that we have available here at Housemates - we’ve got rooms in the top student areas in the city, with instant booking available right here on our site. This means that you’ll never be beaten out for the rooms that you love, with rooms available to book in just a matter of minutes. If you’re looking to move with your fellow students, get in touch with us to try and arrange a group booking on one of our accommodation options, or, alternatively, browse the locations available online to see which buildings have the most openings for a group of your size! 

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is a remarkable place

Few things help you to get in touch with the culture and creativity that a city has to offer better than a trip to a museum, but in Birmingham, you’re sure to be blown away by what you find at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. This stunning Grade II listed landmark is home to over 40 individual galleries that each cover their own unique section of history, with featured galleries displaying interesting pieces from applied art to social history memorabilia, archaeological discoveries, and so much more. 

If you’re a fan of the arts, or potentially even an art student who is studying in the city, the museum is sure to be one of your biggest inspirations. Both the building and its contents exude beauty, creativity, and culture in every corner, with something new to discover on each visit that you make to the museum. The museum is not strictly historical, nor is it just traditional art styles that are on display; instead, the museum is committed to giving a true reflection of modern Britain and Birmingham by showcasing art from local talent regularly. Over the course of the year, many guest exhibitions and events are happening at BMAG, so be sure to keep up to date with their calendar to ensure that you don’t miss out on seeing some of the most memorable exhibitions that the city has to offer. Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is currently closed for the remainder of 2021, but there are big reopening plans scheduled for 2022, so be sure to catch those when you have some free time between your studies! 

Learn more about science at Thinktank! 

If art isn’t really your thing, perhaps science and industry might be more up your alley? Thinktank is Birmingham’s science museum and is one of the city’s best day trips for all ages, from school children to students and parents. The award-winning science museum has several intuitive and engaging exhibitions that help you to understand more about the world around you and delves into some of the biggest scientific revelations that have been made in the city of Birmingham. At present, Thinktank has over 200 exhibitions that visitors can interact with, covering everything from talking robots and steam engines to chocolate wrapping machines, the workings of the human body, and beyond. 

Thinktank is one of Birmingham’s biggest attractions and it’s pretty easy to see why - the state-of-the-art museum is equal parts educational and entertaining and helps new residents such as students feel more connected to the city that they’ll be calling home for the next couple of years. You can find Thinktank in the immensely impressive Millennium Point building in the centre of Birmingham, where you’ll be able to explore four full floors of exhibits and collections that’ll keep you amazed throughout your trip. On top of the exhibitions, Thinktank also boasts a 4K Planetarium and a science garden, which we’d highly recommend checking out whilst you’re there! 

For opening times, visitor information, or any other information such as ticket prices, you can head over to Thinktank’s website, where you’ll be able to find everything you need in one convenient location. 

Cadbury World is the perfect spot for chocolate lovers

Everybody loves chocolate. It’s one of the UK’s favourite sweet treats and there’s no better way to satisfy a sugar craving than with your favourite bar of cocoa. But do you ever stop to think about the story behind the bar of chocolate that’s in your hands? In most cases, we doubt it, but that’s exactly what you’ll be doing on your trip to Cadbury World! Cadbury is one of the UK’s most popular confectionery companies, producing a wide range of fantastic chocolate bars such as the iconic Dairy Milk, the indulgent Bournville, the Freddo, the list goes on. Cadbury is based in the midlands and has been since their journey began, which is why the Cadbury World experience has found a loving home right there in Birmingham. We know you probably don’t need much convincing to head off on a fun-packed day of sweet treats and chocolatey delights, but here is an idea of what will be in store for you during your Cadbury World adventure:

  • Afternoon Tea - us Brits love our afternoon teas, but it’s even better when you have delicious chocolate goodies from Cadbury on hand!
  • The Chocolatier Experience - we all know how it tastes, but how much effort really goes into making your favourite chocolate bars? Well, wonder no more! Whilst at Cadbury World, you’ll be able to take part in a fantastic chocolatier experience where you’ll learn the inner workings of the major confectionery company. 
  • The Crunchie Rollercoaster - whilst for many the word Crunchie may bring up thoughts of sweet honeycomb wrapped in chocolate, at Cadbury World, you get to experience the Crunchie like never before! Strap in and hold on tight for the thrill that only the Crunchie Rollercoaster can offer!

Aston Villa - Birmingham’s Premier League club

If you’re a football fan, you’re going to love studying in Birmingham. The city has a proud football history that dates back longer than almost any major UK city, with their two clubs, Aston Villa and Birmingham City, forging a fierce rivalry that’s recognised across the country as one of the most passionate and competitive in the game. In recent years, the glory has all been with Aston Villa, who currently hold a place in English football’s top tier, the Premier League. As a member of English football’s elite division, Aston Villa competes against some of Europe’s top teams, such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Man City, Chelsea, and Arsenal, giving Villa fans the chance to see their team face up against many of the world’s top talents on a weekly basis.

Aston Villa primarily plays their football at Villa Park, which is located in Aston, a suburb of the city of Birmingham. If you’d like to catch a Villa game whilst you’re a student in Birmingham, you might be able to grab a ticket from the club website, but you’ll have to be quick as the tickets for games at this iconic old ground can sell out pretty quickly for the most popular games. The stadium has a total capacity of 42,000, making it one of the largest in the country and, for this reason, it has previously been used for high-profile games in the latter stages of the FA Cup, games in the 1966 World Cup, and many more sporting events over the years. 

Birmingham City - Sleeping giants ready for their next triumph? 

On the other side of the city, you have the blues: Birmingham City. In recent years, the blues have not quite had the top division success that their bitter rivals Aston Villa have experienced, but that hasn’t stopped their fans from following their team up and down the country in their thousands, particularly at their home stadium St. Andrew’s. Birmingham City currently operates in the Championship, which is English football’s second-tier, and have done since their relegation from the Premier League. In this time, they’ve faced promotion and relegation battles but have managed to maintain their position and are hoping to push on for promotion in the coming years thanks to the support of new investors of the club. 

Birmingham City’s biggest moment in the last decade is their shock League Cup triumph in 2011, where they beat out the big-time favourite, Arsenal, to win their first major trophy since 1963. The final was played at Wembley in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd and is still to this day seen as the club’s greatest victory. If you’d like to catch The Blues playing at home whilst you’re studying in the city, you can check out the ticketing section of their website or join their season ticket waiting list if you’d like a guaranteed seat for every home game all season long! 

No matter who you support, you’re sure to love the atmosphere at both Villa Park and St. Andrews, and each makes for a fantastic day out with massively different experiences that we’d definitely suggest trying out.

Visit Edgbaston Cricket Ground for top-class county cricket

For those who prefer wickets and bats to boots and goalposts, Edgbaston might be a little more to your tastes when it comes to sporting events in the city of Birmingham. The city has a longstanding history with the game of cricket and is home to one of the most iconic grounds in the world, Edgbaston. Over the years, Edgbaston has had its fair share of iconic moments to remember, from Javed Miandad batting masterclass in 1992, where he put out a phenomenal 153* score on the board, to Graeme Swann’s showstopping bowling performance in 2010, where he recorded a cool 6-65 including the so-called “ball of the 21st century” to take out Imran Farhat. These iconic England games have lived long in the memory of cricket fans for decades, and there are sure to be plenty more moments where those came from, so be sure to get down to Edgbaston whenever England are in town!

At county level, Edgbaston is home to the Warwickshire County Cricket Club, which is one of England’s 18 first-class cricket clubs. Warwickshire plays all of their home games at Edgbaston, meaning you can catch plenty of elite test cricket matches whilst you’re based in Birmingham. If you’re looking for a game that’s a little faster paced than test cricket, why not get yourself down to a 50 overs match with the Warwickshire Bears, or even a super-speedy game of T20 with the Birmingham Bears, who are all based at Edgbaston over the course of the year?

Birmingham is full of iconic music venues

Much like many of the other major cities across the UK, Birmingham has a long and deep history with the UK’s booming music scene, offering many young bands and artists the chance to grow, perform, and take off through the use of various small venues that allow these up and coming artists the chance to play to a crowd of adoring fans and potential new fans! Birmingham’s venues range vastly in terms of size, the genre of music, and the type of performance that is on stage, allowing students to find fantastic new artists to follow without having to break the bank to go see them live. 

Here are some of Birmingham’s top music venues:

Crufts: The biggest dog show of the year

One of the biggest annual events in Birmingham is the fantastic Crufts, which is one of the world’s elite dog shows! The event is arranged each year by the Kennel Club, celebrating every aspect of the role that dogs play in our lives. In total, it’s estimated that around 20,000 dogs compete for the top prize of Crufts Best in Show, which goes to show the staggering amount of popularity that the event carries on a worldwide scale. Each year, the event is packed with brilliant displays of obedience, agility, speed, and trick mastery, featuring dogs of all breeds, shapes, sizes, and skill levels. 

In addition to the displays, there are several trade stands at the event too, offering the best toys, treats, and clothing for your pampered pooch - last year there were over 550 trade stands at Crufts, so your puppy is sure to be spoiled for choice when it comes to picking out a new toy or treat! If you’re lucky, you might even be able to get a few snack samples from the friendly vendors on your way around the stalls! One of the best parts of Crufts is the Discover Dogs area, where you’re able to learn more about the different breeds that take part in the Crufts event; if you’re lucky, you might even get to meet and pet a few of the dogs too. 

The 2022 schedule has not yet been announced, but be sure to keep an eye out on their website, as well as the Birmingham NEC, the venue where the event is held, for more details as they are released. 

Where will you be studying?

Now that you know what the city has to offer and why it makes the perfect choice for any students looking to study in the UK, whether that’s domestic or international students in Birmingham, it’s time for a little bit of information about the universities themselves. Birmingham is home to 5 separate universities that each offer their own courses, curriculum, and style of learning, so it’s all about finding a uni, course, and environment that’s going to allow you to thrive and prosper over the coming years. If you’re still undecided on which Birmingham university is the best choice for you, don’t worry - we’ve put together all of the key information for each school just below, so you can compare them with each other and make a better-educated choice about where to study. In general, the best way to decide on a university is to do as much research as you possibly can and to attend every open day that you can - this way, you’re able to compare the schools with greater accuracy and you’re also able to factor in your own experience of the campus, classrooms, and overall vibe of the location into your decision-making process. No matter what, it’s important to trust your feelings and go for the choice that you think will benefit you the most in the future. 

If you want to learn more about studying in the city of Birmingham, whether that’s at Aston University, Birmingham City University, Birmingham University, Newman University, or University College Birmingham, check out the bios and links below to find the information that you need.

Studying for a degree at Aston University

The first university that we’re going to take a look at is Aston University, which is a popular school located in the Aston region of Birmingham. According to the QS World University Rankings, Aston University ranks at number 485 globally, with a research output that is described as ‘very high’. For many students, Aston University is seen to provide an excellent balance between student experience, top-class facilities and high-grade teaching staff, which culminates in a fantastic overall experience that benefits each student tremendously. Aston University is a particularly popular choice with international students, of which there are over 1500 each year, thanks to the city’s diverse cultural communities and friendly, open-armed nature. 

As of 2017, Aston University was awarded a Gold Award by the Teaching Excellence Framework, which is the highest possible accolade based on teaching quality and student satisfaction, which goes a long way to show the exceptional student experience that is on offer at Aston uni. In addition to this award, Aston University was also awarded a five-star rating by QS in 2018 - these stars are awarded based on a number of key areas where universities must excel, including teaching, employability, innovation, facilities, inclusiveness, and internationalisation. This again goes to show that Aston truly is one of the UK’s hidden gems when it comes to selecting a university, making it one of the smartest choices that any student can make in the coming semester, both in the short and long term for their current education and future potential employment opportunities. 

Why you should choose Birmingham City University

The next of Birmingham’s many schools that we’re going to take a closer look at is Birmingham City University, which is one of the city’s largest universities, offering courses to over 24,500 students each academic year. With such a large number of students attending the school, you can be sure that there are plenty of social opportunities to be had with your fellow students over the course of the year, but also plenty of studying opportunities to help you excel in your chosen course. Birmingham City University strives to combine innovative thinking and learning with the best student support, making them one of the country’s most forward-thinking locations for further education. In recent years, the university has been putting out some incredibly assuring statistics regarding their intake and success rates, which are sure to instil confidence and belief in every student or parent that is considering BCU. According to the Destination of Leavers survey, 97% of BCU’s students found themselves in employment or further study within 6 months of graduating from the university, which is a spectacular number considering the high number of students in attendance. 

In addition to these already impressive statistics, there have been major investments made into the campus and facilities in the last decade, with around £260m being injected into the school, resulting in many improvements across the board for subjects such as business, law, social sciences, English, and IT, so you can be sure that you’ll be studying with top-class facilities if you elect to go to BCU in the next academic year. 

Is the University of Birmingham the place for you?

The University of Birmingham is perhaps the most prestigious university that the city has to offer. The advanced learning facility is ranked as the 79th best university in the world according to the QS World University Rankings 2019, which puts UoB above every other university in the Birmingham area. Not only is UoB ranked as the best uni in Birmingham, but it’s also the oldest, having been founded in the 19th century, making it a red brick university, which is a term used to define a group of universities that were founded in England’s industrial cities in the 19th century. In terms of the academic quality on offer at the University of Birmingham, you simply need to look at the standing that it holds. UoB is a Russell Group university, meaning it is part of a small set of high-output research schools that thrive on a reputation of academic excellence, so you can be sure that you’re in the best possible environment to learn and excel in your chosen field when studying at UoB. 

In addition to the high research output, the University of Birmingham actually ranks amongst the top 50 universities worldwide across many of the specific disciplines and subjects that are taught, including the following:

  • Dentistry, in which UoB is ranked as the 13th best university in the world
  • Development Studies, in which UoB is ranked as the 36th best uni in the world
  • Education, in which UoB is ranked as the 36th best uni in the world
  • English Language and Literature, in which UoB is ranked as the 34th best uni in the world
  • Sports-Related Subjects, in which UoB is ranked as the 6th best uni in the world
  • Theology, Divinity and Religious Studies, in which UoB is ranked as the 26th best uni in the world

What’s on offer at Newman University?

Moving on to another one of Birmingham’s popular universities, we have Newman University, which is a smaller education facility that is affiliated with the Catholic church. This affiliation does not mean that you have to be Catholic, or religious at all, to study at the university, so don’t let that put you off applying to the school if you think that it is a good fit for you and your studies. Despite only being a small university, Newman performs incredibly well, ranking 20th in the UK when it comes to teaching quality, ensuring that you’ll get a fantastic level of further education when you choose to study at Newman. A common comment that is made by students attending Newman University is that the friendly and approachable nature of the campus, facilities, and faculty staff makes it incredibly easy to get more out of your experience at the uni; you’re able to interact with theories and concepts more intuitively, whilst also exploring ideas with tutors in a way that you wouldn’t be able to at a larger school.

Newman also takes great pride in preparing their students for life after uni, which is something that many other universities commonly lack. At Newman University, you’ll have ample opportunities to secure a career post-graduation, and you’ll have the life skills that you need to excel too! From one-to-one support on campus to the array of learning and career opportunities available outside of the classroom, Newman is a great fit for any students that are looking for a university that provides exceptional learning, a close-knit community, and plenty of career progression paths. 

University College Birmingham: is it the best choice for your future?

Last, but in no way least, we have the University College Birmingham, a highly commended research school based in the midlands. For students, the uni presents a fantastic opportunity to grow, learn, and prosper in your chosen career field, with the university holding a highly respected position amongst many employers within a variety of industries thanks to their commitment to career-focused education and training programmes. 

With strong links to local industrial, national businesses, and international partners, there are few universities in the UK that ensure that their students are prepared for work in the same way that UCB does, which is vital for students looking to set themselves on the right path at an early age. In overall rankings, you may not see UCB appearing in league tables and similar comparisons; this is due to the university’s decision to decline to participate in these rankings due to apprehensions that they are marked down unfairly. As the university operates as both a higher education institution and a further education institution, UCB has previously seen lower rankings in the traditional ‘one-size-fits-all’ league tables, hence the decision to remove their name from the reckoning. You can learn more about UCB’s decision to remove itself from uni rankings here

UCB is accredited by the University of Birmingham, which goes to showcase the high level of learning on offer at the school, in both its vocational degree offerings and postgraduate degree courses, which equip students with the necessary tools to tackle their career with courage and the correct application. 

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