Birkbeck, University of London
Tuesday 06 August 2013
History: Founded as the London Mechanics Institution to extend higher education to the working people of London in 1823. Became the Birkbeck Literary and Scientific Institution and then Birkbeck College in 1907. Snaffled up by London University back in 1920 but remains an independent institution. London’s only specialist provider of evening-taught higher education.
Address: Bloomsbury, London's academic hub. New £33million campus opens in Stratford (east London) in October 2013.
Ambience: Studious. Strong academic and research reputation and students are there to work. Main building is a 50s redbrick block which has undergone a £18.5m campus consolidation project, resulting in a 45 per cent increase in teaching and research accommodation.
Who's the boss? Genetics professor David Latchman, who is also professor of human genetics at UCL. He gained his BA, MA and PhD from Queen's College Cambridge.
Prospectus: 020 7631 6316 or order one online here.
UCAS code: B24.
What you need to know
Easy to get into? Conventional entry requirements don't apply as the university makes its own assessment of your ability. UCAS tariff scores apply if you’ve recently studied for a qualification which has a UCAS tariff equivalent (including A-levels, IB, GNVQs, BTEC). Visit the website for more details. Students for the three-year evening-taught full-time courses apply through UCAS. Pre-degree certificates are available..
Vital statistics: More than 18,000 students in a community as diverse and cosmopolitan as London’s population. The majority are working professionals who attend classes in the evenings. Most undergraduate degrees are four-year, evening-taught part-time courses, but Birkbeck also now offers 40 three-year evening-taught full-time undergraduate degree programmes. Classes are usually held between 6pm and 9pm. Mature students make up 94% per cent of the undergrad population.
Added value: Evening nursery. State-of-the-art library, computer facilities and students union all stay open late and at weekends. Special study skills classes for students returning to education after a break. A nine-storey, glass-fronted extension houses the integrated library, lecture and lab facilities in one location. Award-winning cinema housed in the school of film and visual media. History of art is in Virginia Woolf's old house.
University of London Union next door to Birkbeck’s main building, containing sport and social facilities. University Square, Birkbeck’s £33m purpose-built campus in Stratford, east London, opens this autumn and will include a dynamic learning centre, performing arts rehearsal and theatre space, student support centre and 300-seat lecture theatre. A unique partnership with the University of East London, the campus is in the heart of Stratford’s cultural quarter.
Teaching: Consistently ranks top of national student surveys for student satisfaction among multi-faculty London institutions, including number one for teaching and overall student satisfaction in the 2012 survey.
Research: Ranked in the top one per cent of universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2012. Ranked in the top 25 per cent of UK multi-faculty HEIs in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise. Several schools rated in the top five nationally: earth sciences; psychology; Iberian and Latin American studies and history of art, film and visual media.
Any accommodation? Has a quota of rooms in the University of London's intercollegiate halls of residence and in the UNITE Green Lane development. Provides access to the University of London Housing Service for advice on private rented accommodation.
Cheap to live there? London is not cheap, though the majority of students are based there already.
Transport links: Ace. Surrounded by Tube stations.
Fees: Fees vary - see the individual programmes listed on the website for details. Generally, fees for 2013/14 for home and EU students on Birkbeck’s standard part-time four-year undergraduate degree courses will range from £6,000 to £6,750 per year, with individual course fees charged according to length of study. Three-year evening-taught full-time degrees are £8000 or £9,000 per year.
Bursaries: Student bursaries and fee waivers are available; approximately 40% of all undergrads got some financial help in 2012/13. Cash bursaries available through the university are paid directly to students. Fee waivers also available through the National Scholarship Programme.
The fun stuff
Nightlife: Good location, close to ULU, a well-known music venue. Within walking distance of Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Street and Covent Garden. The bars, restaurants and clubs of Soho and Chinatown are just down the road and Theatreland is practically on the doorstep. The George Birkbeck union bar is shaped by the students' needs with a range of drinks to suit all, a dart board, pool table, table-football table and gaming machine.
Price of a pint: £3.60 is the average pint price in London but student nights and drinks at the union will be cheaper.
Sporting reputation: No entry in the BUCS league and not particularly sporty, bar some facilities in the main building.
Notable societies: Loads of course-related groups, plus Bookshare Society for peer to peer book lending - a great means of saving some cash. Joomla Club trains students to build and run their own websites, while Lamp and Owl is the student magazine.
Glittering alumni: Juliet Davenport, OBE, CEO of Good Energy Ltd; adventurer Edward 'Bear' Grylls; Carole Souter CBE, CEO of the Heritage Lottery Fund; rower and 2012 Olympic silver medallist Rob Williams; Labour MP Denis MacShane; former punk turned ambient popster, Jah Wobble; Ramsay Macdonald, first Labour prime minister; Annie Besant, Victorian social campaigner, Ed Davey MP and Secretary of State; Alan Davey, CE of the Arts Council; Jenny Rowe, chief executive of the UK Supreme Court.
Alternative prospectus: Check into The Student Room to chat with current, former and prospective students about the Birkbeck university experience.
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