Birmingham City University (abbrev. BCU) is a modern university in the city of Birmingham, England. Initially established as the Birmingham College of Art with roots dating back to 1843, it was designated as a polytechnic in 1971 and gained university status in 1992.
The university has three main campuses serving four faculties, and offers courses in art and design, business, the built environment, computing, education, engineering, English, healthcare, law, the performing arts, social sciences, and technology.
It was formed initially out of five colleges. Some of the colleges’ staff fought against the merger but later changed their minds. The colleges were:
- Birmingham College of Art and Design(originally the Birmingham Government School of Design, founded in October 1843)
- Birmingham School of Music(developed as a department of the Birmingham and Midland Institute around 1859)
- Birmingham College of Commerce (established in the early 20th century as a branch school of the Birmingham Central Technical College, which went on to become Aston University)
- South Birmingham Technical College (opened in 1961)
- North Birmingham Technical College(formerly Aston Technical College, opened in 1966)
The latter’s new Perry Barr campus (which began construction in 1971) became the centre of the new Polytechnic, although the institution continued to have a number of different campuses spread across the city. This has sometimes been seen as a weakness of the polytechnic, with the dispersal of sites considered confusing to visitors.
From its opening, the polytechnic was considered very strong in the field of art and design.
In 1975, three more colleges were added to the polytechnic:
- Anstey College of Physical Education(founded as a private college for women in 1897)
- Bordesley College of Education (founded as aLocal Education Authority (LEA) Day Training College for women teachers in 1963)
- City of Birmingham College of Education (founded as an LEA EmergencyTeacher Training College in 1948)
In 1988, the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) was established from the merging of the polytechnic’s Faculty of Art and Design with Bournville College of Art.
The Further and Higher Education Act 1992 allowed all polytechnics to adopt the title of “university”. The name University of Central England in Birmingham was approved by the Privy Council on 16 June 1992.
In 1995, two more colleges were absorbed—Birmingham and Solihull College of Nursing and Midwifery, and the West Midlands School of Radiography—and the Birmingham School of Jewellery opened on Vittoria Street in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The Faculty of Engineering and Computer Technology provided the basis for the creation of the Technology Innovation Centre (TIC) in 2000. The following year, the Faculty of Health incorporated the Defence School of Health Care Studies.
In November 2003, the university pursued a merger between UCE and Aston University another university in Birmingham.
In June 2007, it was announced that the University would be renamed from ‘UCE Birmingham’, with three possible names being proposed: Birmingham City University, Birmingham Chamberlain University, and Birmingham Metropolitan University.
A wide range of qualifications, including Access courses, are accepted.
Highly competitive entry to Art, Design, Music and Acting courses dependant on the standard of a portfolio or audition performance.
Foundation courses may provide entry routes and degree progression for students with lower entry qualifications.
New-style AS and A Levels for some subjects will be taught in schools in England from September 2015, with further subjects being changed from 2016 and 2017. The first results for the new AS qualifications will be in 2016, and the first revised A Levels will be awarded in 2017.
New GCSEs will begin to be taught in England from September 2016. Further GCSE subjects will be taught in England from 2017. The first results of the reformed GCSEs will be awarded in 2017.
They will welcome applicants holding the new qualifications. They appreciate that the new qualifications can be a little daunting, but would like to reassure them that all qualifications, both old and new, will be considered equally and fairly by them.
Their approach to admissions is to always carefully consider the full range of applicant information when deciding upon whether to offer someone a place. Personal statements, references, predicted and actual academic achievement – and in some cases interviews, auditions and portfolios – are all taken into account.
A high proportion of courses lead to professional as well as degree qualifications, with a strong emphasis on employment-related and practice-based education.
The university enjoys a strong reputation for art, design, media, health, teacher training, music and performing arts, and for relevant practice-based professional education.
The university’s Moodle virtual learning environment provides online access to resources and flexible approaches to learning.
Seven members of staff are currently National Teaching Fellows – the most prestigious award for excellence in university teaching and learning.
Around 40 courses have professional accreditation from organisations including:
- Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
- British Psychological Society
- Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists
- Landscape Institute
- Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development
- Gemmological Association of Great Britain
- Royal Institute of British Architects
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
- Health and Care Professions Council
Employability skills, enterprise and practice-based project work are built into the curriculum, giving students hands-on experience of the sort of careers they may wish to enter.
An international perspective is incorporated into all courses, including the opportunity to study abroad for those who want to.
Courses have attained accreditation from relevant industry and professional bodies, where available.
The most recent audit by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education praised the ‘close and sustained partnership’ between the university and its students.
The Careers and Job Prospects team offers impartial advice about work experience and job opportunities to students at university and for up to five years after graduation.
Access job or work experience opportunities and internships through an online jobs board and benefit from face-to-face and e-mentoring support by students and professionals through the Ask@BCU and Inspiring Futures mentoring projects.