Overall ranking: Came 18th out of 126 in the Complete University Guide for 2016.

History: Founded in 1900 by Joseph Chamberlain. England's first civic university where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis.

Address: Edgbaston, three miles from the centre of Brum.

Ambience: An oasis of green space and red brick amid the bustle of Birmingham. Set in 250 acres of parkland, the main campus is largely self-contained. Another 80-acre site is set in Selly Oak, around a mile from the main campus. The city has distractions for all tastes, with the Bullring and Mailbox shopping centres, clusters of curry houses and, culture-wise, the Birmingham Rep Theatre, Town Hall and Symphony Hall, National Indoor Arena, International Convention Centre and National Exhibition Centre.

Who's the boss? Professor David Eastwood is vice-chancellor, formerly chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and currently chair of the Russell Group.

Prospectus: 0121 415 8900 or request one here.

UCAS code: B32

What you need to know

Easy to get into? Pretty tough. The university doesn't use the UCAS points system, but top grades are expected. Chemical Engineering for example require A*AA and LLB Law asks for AAA at A-level.

Vital statistics: One of the bigger universities, with around 20,000 undergrads. Over 2.7 million books in the library, including a rare book collection, and good IT provision with wireless facilities on campus. Birmingham is one of 24 Russell Group universities, dedicated to the highest levels of academic excellence.

Added value: Super-sporty student body. Extensive facilities include a swimming pool, athletics field, five pitches, climbing wall, gym and martial arts centre. Birmingham is investing almost £300m over five years to transform their famous Edgbaston campus and several other sites with new facilities.

The projects currently underway include a sports centre with the city's first 50 metre swimming pool (opening early 2016), an outstanding academic library with a public space (opening mid 2016) and a University training school, which will admit the first pupils in September 2015. A new-build tower and three new-build low rise buildings are also being constructed to provide 725 bed spaces on The Vale student village for students starting university in 2015. And the interior of the main Aston Webb Building is being remodelled to create a new outstanding student services hub that will be located in the historic Aston Webb building at the heart of campus, to be ready by September 2015.

Away from the main Edgbaston and Selly Oak campuses, the University of Birmingham and Rolls-Royce are establishing a new £60m High Temperature Research Centre at Ansty near Coventry.  The Centre will help develop future generations of aero engines, making greener, more efficient air travel possible. One mile away from campus, the new dental school is rapidly taking shape, and will open to students and patients in September 2015, providing a state-of-the-art healthcare and education facility.

Teaching: Came 52nd out of 126 for student satisfaction in the Complete University Guide.

Graduate prospects: Impressive- placed 5th with 85 per cent of students finding graduate level employment upon completion of their course.

Any accommodation? Yes, lots of places to choose from, with a wide-range of options. Prices vary dramatically but start from around £80 per week.

Cheap to live there? Average rents range from £55-£100 per week for a single room in a flat share.

Transport links: The only UK university to have a railway station on campus. Good road, rail and air links, plus plenty of buses.

Fees: All full-time home and EU undergraduates will pay £9,000 for 2015 entry.

Bursaries: There are a number of excellence-based and subject-specific scholarships available, plus bursaries based on household income.

The fun stuff

Nightlife: Jumping. Excellent clubs in the city. On campus: a strong student drama scene, club nights and a variety of drinking holes, plus The Hub at Shackleton Hall.

Price of a pint: Prices vary but £2.58 is the average cost.

Sporting reputation: Birmingham was finally knocked out of the top three in the BUCS league finishing 5th for the 2014/15 season.

Notable societies: The Human vs Zombies Society sees members play area games as either zombies or humans (who can defend themselves with foam dart guns!). Like a more dramatic tag. Student news publication Redbrick has a top reputation in the media, particularly following their coverage of the 2011 Birmingham riots.

Alternative prospectus: Check out Birmingham's board on The Student Room to find out what life as a student here is really like.