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University of Birmingham (informally Birmingham University) is a public research university located in Edgbaston, Birmingham, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Queen's College, Birmingham (founded in 1828 as the Birmingham School of Medicine and Surgery) and Mason Science College (established in 1875 by Sir Josiah Mason), making it the first English civic or 'red brick' university to receive its own royal charter. It is a founding member of both the Russell Group of British research universities and the international network of research universities, Universitas 21.
The university was ranked 15th in the UK and 76th in the world in the QS World University Rankings for 2015-16. In 2013, Birmingham was named 'University of the Year 2014' in the Times Higher Education awards. The 2015 Global Employability University Ranking places Birmingham at 80th world-wide and 12th in the UK. Birmingham is also ranked 4th in the UK for Graduate Prospects in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015.
The student population includes 20,100 undergraduate and 14,060 postgraduate students, which is the fourth largest in the UK (out of 165). The annual income of the institution for 2014–15 was £577.1 million of which £126.4 million was from research grants and contracts, with an expenditure of £531.8 million.
The university is home to the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, housing works by Van Gogh, Picasso and Monet, the Lapworth Museum of Geology, the Cadbury Research Library home to the Mingana Collections of Middle Eastern manuscripts and the Chamberlain Collection, and the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower, which is a prominent landmark visible from many parts of the city.Academics and alumni of the university include former British Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain, and Stanley Baldwin, and eight Nobel laureates.
Although the earliest beginnings of the University were previously traced back to the Queen's College which is linked to William Sands Cox in his aim of creating a medical school along strictly Christian lines, unlike the London medical schools, further research has now revealed the roots of the Birmingham Medical School in the medical education seminars of Mr John Tomlinson, the first surgeon to the Birmingham Workhouse Infirmary, and later to the General Hospital. These classes were the first ever held outside London or south of the Scottish border in the winter of 1767–68. The first clinical teaching was undertaken by medical and surgical apprentices at the General Hospital, opened in 1779. The medical school which grew out of the Birmingham Workhouse Infirmary was founded in 1828 but Cox began teaching in December 1825. Queen Victoria granted her patronage to the Clinical Hospital in Birmingham and allowed it to be styled "The Queen's Hospital". It was the first provincial teaching hospital in England. In 1843, the medical college became known as Queen's College
In 1870, Sir Josiah Mason, the Birmingham industrialist and philanthropist, who made his fortune in making key rings, pens, pen nibs and electroplating, drew up the Foundation Deed for Mason Science College.The college was founded in 1875. It was this institution that would eventually form the nucleus of the University of Birmingham. In 1882, the Departments of Chemistry, Botany and Physiology were transferred to Mason Science College, soon followed by the Departments of Physics and Comparative Anatomy. The transfer of the Medical School to Mason Science College gave considerable impetus to the growing importance of that college and in 1896 a move to incorporate it as a university college was made. As the result of the Mason University College Act 1897 it became incorporated as Mason University College on 1 January 1898, with Joseph Chamberlain becoming the President of its Court of Governors.
It was largely due to Chamberlain's tireless enthusiasm that the university was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria on 24 March 1900. The Calthorpe family offered twenty-five acres (10 hectares) of land on the Bournbrook side of their estate in July. The Court of Governors received the Birmingham University Act 1900, which put the Royal Charter into effect on 31 May. Birmingham was therefore arguably the first so-called red brick university, although several other universities claim this title.
The transfer of Mason University College to the new University of Birmingham, with Chamberlain as its first Chancellor and Sir Oliver Lodge as the first Principal, was complete. All that remained of Josiah Mason's legacy was his Mermaid in the sinister chief of the university shield and of his college, the double-headed lion in the dexter. It became the first civic and campus university in England.
The University Charter of 1900 also included provision for a Faculty of Commerce, as was appropriate for a university itself founded by industrialists and based in a city with enormous business wealth, in effect creating the first Business School in England. Consequently, the faculty, the first of its kind in Britain, was founded by Sir William Ashley in 1901, who from 1902 until 1923 served as first Professor of Commerce and Dean of the Faculty.
From 1905 to 1908, Edward Elgar held the position of Peyton Professor of Music at the university. He was succeeded by his friend Granville Bantock.
The university's own heritage archives are accessible for research through the University's Cadbury Research Library which is open to all interested researchers.
The Great Hall in the Aston Webb Building was converted into the 1st Southern General Hospital during World War One, with 520 beds and treated 125,000 injured servicemen.
The final round of the first ever televised leaders' debates, hosted by the BBC, was held at the university during the 2010 British general election campaign on 29 April 2010. It also acted as a training camp for the Jamaican track and field team prior to the 2012 London Olympics.
On 9 August 2010 the university announced that for the first time it would not enter the UCAS clearing process for 2010 admission, which matches under-subscribed courses to students who did not meet their firm or insurance choices, due to all places being taken. Largely a result of the Financial crisis of 2007–2010, Birmingham joined fellow Russell Group universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Bristol in not offering any clearing places.
In 2012 the University announced plans to build a new sports centre and library.
In 2013, Birmingham was crowned 'University of the Year 2014' in the Times Higher Education awards. The 2013 QS World University Rankings places Birmingham University at 10th in the UK and 62nd internationally. Birmingham was ranked 12th in the UK in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise with 16 percent of the university's research regarded as world-leading and a further 41 percent as internationally excellent, with particular strengths in the fields of music, physics, biosciences, computer science, mechanical engineering, political science, international relations and law. Course satisfaction was at 85% in 2011 which grew to 88% in 2012.
In 2015 the Complete University Guide placed Birmingham 5th in the UK for graduate prospects, behind only Imperial, St.George's, Cambridge and Bath.
The Birmingham Business School
Data from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) placed the University amongst the twelve elite institutions who among them take more than half of the students with the highest A-level grades.
Owing to Birmingham's role as a centre of light engineering, the university traditionally had a special focus on science, engineering and commerce, as well as coal mining. It now teaches a full range of academic subjects and has five-star rating for teaching and research in several departments; additionally, it is widely regarded as making a prominent contribution to cancer studies, hosting the first Cancer Research UK Centre.
The School of Computer Science ranked 1st in the 2014 Guardian University Guide,4th in the 2013 Sunday Times League Table and 6th in the 2014 Sunday Times League Table.
The combined course of Computer Science and Information Systems, titled Computer Systems Engineering was ranked 4th in the 2016 Guardian University guide.
The Department of Political Science and International Studies] (POLSIS) ranked 4th in the UK and 22nd in the world in the Hix rankings of political science departments.The sociology department also ranked 4th by the Guardian University guide. The Research Fortnight’s University Power Ranking, based on quality and quantity of research activity, put the University of Birmingham 12th in the UK, leading the way across a broad range of disciplines including Primary Care, Cancer Studies, Psychology and Sport and Exercise Sciences. The School of Physics and Astronomy also performed well in the rankings, being ranked 3rd in the 2012 Guardian University Guide and 7th in The Complete University Guide 2012. The School of Chemical Engineering is ranked second in the UK by the 2014 Guardian University Guide.
The University of Birmingham Guild of Students is the university's student union. Originally the Guild of Undergraduates, the institution had its first foundations in the Mason Science College in the centre of Birmingham around 1876. The University of Birmingham itself formally received its Royal Charter in 1900 with the Guild of Students being provided for as a Student Representative Council. It is not known for certain why the name 'Guild of Students' was chosen as opposed to 'Union of Students', however, the Guild shares its name with Liverpool Guild of Students, another 'redbrick university'; both organisations subsequently founded the National Union of Students. The Union Building, the Guild's bricks and mortar presence, was designed by the architect Holland W. Hobbiss.
The Guild's official purposes are to represent its members and provide a means of socialising, though societies and general amenities. The university provides the Guild with the Union Building effectively rent free as well as a block grant to support student services. The Guild also runs several bars, eateries, social spaces and social events.
The Guild supports a variety of student societies and volunteering projects, roughly around 220 at any one time. The Guild complements these societies and volunteering projects with professional staffed services, including its walk-in Advice and Representation Centre (ARC), Student Activities, Jobs/Skills/Volunteering, Student Mentors in halls, and Community Wardens around Bournbrook. The Guild of Students was where the international volunteering charity InterVol was conceived and developed as a student-led volunteering project; the group currently supports charitable organisations in four developing countries. Another two of the Guild's long-standing societies are Student Advice and Nightline (previously Niteline), which both provide peer-to-peer welfare support. The Guild was one of the first universities in the United Kingdom to publish a campus newspaper, Redbrick, supported financially by the Guild of Students and advertising revenue.
The Guild undertakes its representative function through its officer group, seven of whom are full-time, on sabbatical from their studies, and ten of whom are part-time and hold their positions whilst still studying. Elections are held yearly, conventionally February, for the following academic year. These officers have regular contact with the university's officer-holders and managers. In theory, the Guild's officers are directed and kept to account over their year in office by Guild Council, an 80-seat decision-making body. The Guild also supports the university "student reps" scheme, which aims to provide an effective channel of feedback from students on more of a departmental level.
The university has been consistently ranked in the top four of the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) league table. The university's reputation for sport is a long-standing one; in 1954 it became the first UK university to offer a sports degree, and until 1968 exercise was compulsory for all students.
In 2004, six graduates and one current student competed in the Athens Summer Olympics. Four alumni competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, including cyclist Paul Manning who won an Olympic Gold. The university hosted the Jamaican track and field team prior to the 2012 London Olympics. The team stayed at the University's Conference Park and trained on the University's sports track.
University of Birmingham Sport (UBS) offers a wide range of competitive and participation sports, which is utilised by the student and local population of Birmingham. Alongside fitness classes such as yoga and aerobics, UBS offers over 40 different sport teams, including rowing, cricket, football, rugby union (UBRFC), netball, field hockey, ice hockey (Birmingham Eagles), American football (Birmingham Lions), triathlon and many more. The wide selection has ensured the university has over 2000 students participating in sport.
UBS offers over 40 scholarships and bursaries to national and international students of exceptional athletic ability.
The University is in the midst of one of the most exciting and transformational campus redevelopments since the first phase of building on our Edgbaston campus was completed in 1909 under the auspices of Sir Aston Webb. The development projects, worth close to £500 million over a five year period, are creating outstanding new facilities which will benefit students, staff, visitors and the local community. Pioneering projects at other University sites are also ensuring that our investment is not confined to our main campus.
Birmingham has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives.
We continue this tradition today and have ambitions for a future that will embed our work and recognition of the Birmingham name on the international stage.
Universities are never complete. They develop as new challenges and opportunities occur. At Birmingham we innovate, we push the frontiers of understanding; we ask new research questions, we turn theory through experiment into practice – because that’s what great universities do.
- Birmingham Research Institute for History and Cultures Masters Scholarships
- College of Arts and Law Masters Scholarships
- MBA International Business and MBA Global Banking and Finance Scholarships
- Postgraduate Taught Scholarships in Birmingham Business School
- Stanley Ray Scholarships
- University of Birmingham / Bellerbys Outstanding Achievement Scholarships
- University of Birmingham / CATS Undergraduate Outstanding Achievement Scholarship
- University of Birmingham / KAPLAN Outstanding Achievement Scholarships
- University of Birmingham UK International School Undergraduate Outstanding Achievement Scholarship