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A-Z Unis & Colleges

Aston University, Birmingham



Overall ranking: Came 32nd out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016.

History: Began life as Birmingham Municipal Technical School in 1895 before being renamed first Birmingham Central Technical College and then the first College of Advanced Technology. Finally became a university in 1966 at the same time as Bath, Loughborough and Surrey.

Address: Aston Triangle in the centre of Birmingham, sharing space with Birmingham City University and the Birmingham Institute of Art and Design, who both have facilities nearby.

Ambience: Set on a modern green 40-acre campus. Aston is a compact university with a close-knit atmosphere and the tree-ringed lake is a magnet for the 8,500 students. The campus is a five-minute walk from Birmingham city centre with its excellent nightlife and futuristic shopping centre.

Who's the boss? Professor Dame Julia King is vice-chancellor. She previously held academic posts at Nottingham and Cambridge before spending eight years at Rolls Royce and a two-year stint as the Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics.

Prospectus: 0121 204 3000 or download one here.

UCAS code: A80

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Above average. Aston don't usually make offers based on UCAS tariff's however most courses require BBB-AAB A-level or equivalent. English usually requires AAB, whereas Politics and Economics ask for ABB-BBB.

Vital statistics: An industry-focused university with 73 per cent of students on sandwich courses- in the top four in the UK. Business, engineering, languages, subjects allied to medicine, social sciences and health sciences are all strong points. More than 90 per cent of students are from the state-sector.One in 5 students spend a year abroad, either on work placement or studying

Added value: Strong European focus with one in 10 students spending a year abroad as part of their course. A £215m development of the campus and accommodation is taking place. A state of the art library opened towards the end of 2010 before refurbishment of the Woodcock Sports Centre was carried out in late 2011.

As part of the £215m redevelopment of campus, the last of Aston’s 1970s buildings were demolished and replaced with a landscaped green space at the heart of the University.  The University is set to build a £3.9m virtual reality ‘Z-Lab’, one of only a handful in the UK, allowing students to interact with fully realised 3D holograms of objects and environments. Aston has also announced plans for a new £60m medical school, due to open in 2017.

Teaching: Ranked 22nd out of 123 for student satisfaction in the Complete University Guide.

Graduate prospects: Placed 28th with 76.6 per cent finding a graduate level destination.

Any accommodation? On-campus accommodation starts at £119 per week up to £126. The university guarantees a place in halls for all first years subject to conditions. The university have grants designed specially to help with cost of accomodation.

Cheap to live there? Oh yes- student rents in the private sector average a mere £68 per week but prices may rise for the coming academic year.

Transport links: Plenty of buses on the campus doorstep. Birmingham New Street station is a 15-minute stroll from campus and Digbeth (for coaches) is a five-minute cab journey. Three miles from the M6 and nine miles from Birmingham International Airport.

Fees: Aston has set a tuition fee of £9,000 per year for all UK and EU undergrads. There is a reduced fee of £1000 for the placement year with placement scholarships available. Fees vary for overseas students but are higher. Students on placements often earn around £15,000 in salary, to help offset costs.

Bursaries: Scholarships for students on lower household incomes of below £18,000 for 2016 entry. Excellence Scholarships worth £2,000 to students achieving AAB at A level or high grades from a range of other qualifications. Aston placement scholarships mean that most students receive a £1,000 scholarship for their placement year or year abroad, the fee is £1,000 so this effectively means it is fee-free for this valuable year of experience.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: A lively spread of events at the students' guild with several bars, four club nights a week and occasional comedy nights. Concerts and events such as the Charter Ball and the Astonbury music festival always prove popular. Plenty of affordable pubs and restaurants nearby in Birmingham city centre and a lively and varied club scene that includes the legendary Gatecrasher, 02 Academy and firm indie crowd favourite Snobs.

Price of a pint: A little over £2.58 but prices vary depending on the chosen establishment.

Sporting reputation: Not particularly sporty- ranked 88th in the current BUCS league.

Notable societies: Being a small university, Aston does not have the range of societies that other, bigger institutions boast. There are plenty of the more traditional ones on offer though, plus scope to create your own.

Glittering alumni: Lord Drayson, former Cabinet Minister; Gregor Townsend, former Scottish international rugby player; Lord Rooker, Labour peer; Laura Jones, BBC Newsround reporter; Frankie Boyle, comedian (for a year); 2008 and 2009 Apprentice final programme contestants Alex Wotherspoon and Kate Walsh.

Alternative prospectus: Check out how current and recent students rate their university experience at Aston on The Student Room here.