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FAQs about Aston University and Birmingham

Where is Aston University?

How many students have you got and where do they come from?

What about Accommodation – guarantee, costs etc?

Is Aston University and Birmingham a safe place?

What about accommodation after the first year?

What are the sports facilities like?

What about Social Life?

What if I’m ill or need help in other ways?

What courses do you do?

Where is Aston University?

The Aston University Campus is located not in Aston at all but in Birmingham City Centre, less than 10 minutes walk from the City’s main social, shopping and leisure attractions. Our campus is unique in that it enjoys a city centre location but also is characterised by trees, water and plenty of green space, something our students really appreciate. All our academic, social, welfare, sporting and student accommodation facilities are here. If you are trying to locate the University on a Birmingham city map, we are located in the north east part of the city centre, just along from the new BullRing shopping centre.

Directions to the University can be found here

How many students are at Aston University, where do they come from and what is the male/female ratio?

There are around 8,000 undergraduate students at the University, and around 2,000 postgraduate students (MSc, MBA, PHd etc). The male/female ratio is 50% Male, 50% Female, around 25-30% of our students come from the West Midlands area, the rest from all over the UK and beyond. Around 15% of our students are from overseas (outside the UK), from over 120 countries.

Am I guaranteed Accommodation in my first year if I want it?

Aston University does indeed guarantee first year students University managed accommodation on campus, subject to certain conditions (see below). All Aston University’s student accommodation is on our campus in the centre of Birmingham. This means that you are never more than 200 metres away from your lectures etc and also only a short 5 minute walk away from Birmingham City Centre. For example, the main city shopping areas are 5 minutes walk, the nearest cinema is 10 minutes’ walk and the three train stations in the city centre are between 10 and 15 minutes walk. Depending on where you want to socialise, off campus cafes, restaurants, bars and clubs are between 2 and 20 minutes walk or a short and cheap ride in a taxi.

The first year accommodation guarantee is for those students who apply to us through UCAS, choose Aston University as their CF (firm choice) and reply to us confirming they want accommodation by a certain date in July/August each year. Students who choose us as CI (insurance) or come to Aston through Clearing are not guaranteed a place on campus although we endeavour to accommodate them each year and we offer extensive support in finding alternatives via our Students’ Union Advice and Representation Centre, if places on campus are full. The vast majority of other UK Universities only guarantee accommodation for first years who choose them as CF (ie not CI and Clearing students).

We also have a number of places available for returning students with priority given to students returning in their 4th year from their year abroad or placement year outside Birmingham.

Students paying overseas fees (International Students) are currently guaranteed campus accommodation if they want it for the entire duration of their programme if they apply by a certain date each year.

The website www.aston.ac.uk/accommodation has full details of the guarantee.

What is the accommodation like, how much does it cost?

All our student residences are on a self catering basis (BUT SEE BELOW ABOUT CATERED PACKAGES) and are all single ensuite (washbasin, toilet and shower) rooms grouped into flats of between 5 and 10 students who share a kitchen. There is a supermarket on campus and there are lots of supermarkets, markets and shops in the centre of Birmingham, 5-10 minutes walk away. There is also a wide choice of eating places on and close to campus if you don’t want to cook for yourself all the time. Common Rooms and TV lounges are also located around campus and there are launderettes in each residence block with washers and dryers for those other essential chores!

Accommodation (for 2013-14) costs between £116 and £129. Prices include heating, lighting etc and cleaning. Contracts are for 42 weeks (including Christmas and Easter vacations) from around the end of September until the end of June.Longer contracts are also available for students wishing to stay on campus longer. This means that you don’t have to move (and move all your stuff) out of your room the morning after the end of term during these vacations so someone else can live there for a conference etc, as at some Universities. Many students do come back early or stay on campus for a time after the end of term to complete course work, revision, part time work, socialising with friends etc.

We also have a number of Catered Accommodation packages available, where students are able to purchase meal tickets on a termly basis for breakfast and evening meal in one of the campus outlets. This package is offered by University Catering Services and students apply to that department for vouchers etc.

All bedrooms on campus have free internet access available too.

www.aston.ac.uk/accommodation

Is Aston University and Birmingham a safe place to live and study?

Yes! The everyday experience of students and staff at the University is of a friendly, safe community campus atmosphere of which we are fiercely proud, in a city that is really going places and a fantastic place to spend your student days.

The campus itself is located in Birmingham City Centre, an area that is home to literally thousands of young professional graduates, who live in executive apartments in the city centre, and of course shopping, leisure and nightlife facilities unrivalled outside London. Crime is low on campus and in the areas of Birmingham where our students live and socialise. Birmingham overall is not a high crime city and certainly not more so than other cities in the UK and Europe (see statistics below).

The University campus is patrolled by a team of well trained, friendly security and portering staff and we have extensive CCTV coverage. We also have excellent relations with the local West Midlands Police, with two Officers assigned to our campus area to offer students and staff another friendly face and advice on crime prevention and personal awareness.

We consider ourselves to have the lowest crime incidents of any Midlands UK University. If you have any questions about this issue, you are welcome to contact us.

Government Crime Statistics confirm that Birmingham is not amongst the highest crime areas in the UK:

Major University Cities in England and Wales**

Number of Crimes per 1,000 Population:

Nottingham 57.3

Manchester 51.0

London (eg Camden) 48.6*

Liverpool 45.4

Bristol 45.0

Reading 43.0

Norwich 40.9

Leicester 38.4

Stoke on Trent 36.1

Cardiff 34.8

Leeds 34.1

Newcastle 33.3

London (all Boroughs) 33.2

Sheffield 32.5

York 30.8

Coventry 30.7

Birmingham 30.5

England/Wales average 25.8

* A number of major Universities/Colleges in London are based in the Borough of Camden.

** Scotland records crimes in a different way and via a different source, accurate comparisons are therefore not available.

Source: Home Office Statistics: www.crimestatistics.org.uk

What happens with accommodation in my second and third year, when I am not living on campus?

Private rented accommodation in shared student homes is readily available and is a popular choice for our students. Average rent (2009) is around £65 per week. Help in finding places is given by the University Accommodation Office and the Advice and Representation Centre (Students' Guild). This assistance includes an approved landlord and housing list, strict guidelines on contracts, safety, fire regulations etc. Most students ‘live out’ for at least one year. Houses often pass from one cohort of second years to the next. Erdington, Selly Oak and the City Centre itself (flats and apartments run by private developers specifically for students) are by far the most common and popular Aston University student areas and are within easy reach of the campus. Buses and Trains are efficient, cheap and regular. For example, a termly (3 month) Birmingham and West Midlands student bus pass costs around £100 for unlimited travel. The accommodation website is at: www.aston.ac.uk/accommodation/ An increasing number of our 2nd-4th year students are renting private rooms in student apartment developments in Birmingham city centre itself, even closer to campus (5 minutes' walk).

What if I want to live at home with my parents/family when studying at Aston University?

Many of our students from the local West Midlands area choose to do this and this is fine. There are number of good reasons for living at home with your parents/family and you are still able to get involved in University life if you choose this option. You are of course entitled to first year campus accommodation if you want it (see the section above on the accommodation guarantee) as we don’t discriminate against “local” students when allocating first year accommodation.

The Accommodation website contains further information about living on and off campus. www.aston.ac.uk/accommodation/

Is Aston University an "old" or "new" University and where does it fit into the history of UK Universities?

Aston is an "old", research intensive university (ie not a "new" University or former Polytechnic). Our history dates back over 100 years and for many of our degree course areas we are older than the vast majority of UK universities. We were founded in 1895 and became the UK's first elite College of Advanced Technology in 1956 and then granted Royal Charter to become Aston University in 1966. Other UK institutions granted University status at this time include Bath, Loughborough and City University, while at the same time Universities such as Warwick, Lancaster and UEA Norwich were created from scratch on out of town campus sites. Then, in 1992 many of the former Polytechnics were allowed to become Universities (for example Oxford Brookes, UCE, Nottingham Trent and Northumbria). These are now commonly referred to as "new" Universities.

Aston University pioneered the sandwich programme and was one of the first UK Universities to offer degrees in areas such as business, management, computing, human psychology, pharmacy, optometry, applied engineering, translation and European studies. So, while we are an old University we are not stuck in the past or prone to resting on our laurels and have always tried to do things differently. This ethos is partly why our reputation for graduate employment success, friendliness and world class, relevant academic education is so strong.

What are the sports facilities like?

We have excellent sports and recreation facilities here at Aston University, especially for a University of our (relatively small) size. We have a large sports centre on campus including 25m swimming pool, (a beautiful Grade 2 listed pool dating from the 1850s, fully restored for our students and staff), all-weather floodlit pitch, two large sports halls for a massive range of indoor sports, squash courts and a brand new Cybex Fitness Centre and Gym with over £250,000 worth of equipment for keeping fit, healthy and toned. We also run lots of fitness classes, aerobics etc etc. Outdoor sports are catered for at the Aston University Recreation Centre, a 45 acre facility 5 miles from campus including pitches, floodlighting, changing rooms etc. Facilities are open 7 days a week (and often until late) and are also great value for money. For example a swim is £2, a Badminton Court is c£5 and Campus Gym membership is around £5 per week for our students. Annual Gym and Swim passes are as little as £5.50 per week for Aston students.

With the new facilities in place and a wide range of established sports clubs (over 30), sport at the University is available for everyone.

Sport Aston University website

The website above also lists the range of sports clubs you can become involved with here at the University organised via the University Athletic Union. Many of these allow you to compete against other Universities through BUCS (The British Universities and Colleges Sport) as well as just training, keeping fit or simply enjoying sport.

Birmingham was also the first UK "City of Sport for all" and more International sporting events/competitions are held here than in any other UK city.

What’s the social life like at Aston University and in Birmingham?

Our students tell us it is quite simply superb, whatever you want to get involved in and whatever your geographical, cultural, social or religious background. Alternative Guides to University like the Push Guide and Virgin Guide give our “quality of student life” a general thumbs up, in terms of enjoyment but also friendliness, student support and welfare.

Being a campus university in the centre of Birmingham (one of Europe’s friendliest and liveliest cities) our students have the best of both words – a friendly, close knit campus atmosphere with all the advantages of a vibrant city across the road! We are also a relatively small University (we have around 6000 students rather than the 15,000 plus at some Universities). This means you don’t feel overwhelmed when you come here. Its easy to make friends and you’re sure to bump into them all the time around campus, rather than feeling lost amongst what seems like thousands of strangers. It’s hard to describe what “friendliness” means but we think we’ve got bags of it here at Aston University.

However you want to spend your spare time, the University and City are sure to meet your needs. The range of societies available on campus is extensive and the choice of cultural, musical, clubbing, shopping, sporting, eating and drinking opportunities in the city is perhaps unrivalled in the UK outside London.

Anyway, don’t take our word for it, the web pages below include further information about social life at the University and in the city of Birmingham.

Aston Students Union: www.aston.ac.uk/union

Sport and Recreation: www.aston.ac.uk/sport

Information on Birmingham (from Aston University): www.aston.ac.uk/birmingham

Visit Birmingham: www.visitbirmingham.com

National Exhibition Centre Group:
contains info on all concerts and events at the NEC/NIA and other Birmingham venues: www.necgroup.co.uk

National Rail -for train times to and from Birmingham: www.nationalrail.co.uk

I want to apply to Aston University but I’m not sure which degree programme to study…

This website page lists all our degree programmes at Undergraduate level

What if I’m ill or need help in other ways?

We are really proud of our student support services, frequently praised by independent and government assessments and being a smaller campus based university it’s much easier to know where to get assistance and advice should you need it.

For example, the University has a Health Centre and Doctors’ Surgery and there are also Nurses available at all times. The Centre is fully geared up to students needs too and all students are encouraged to register on arrival at the University. There is also a Dental Surgery and Opticians’ on campus and the nearest Pharmacy is 10 minutes walk away in Birmingham City Centre.

Student Support and Welfare Services information: Student Health, Welfare and Personal Development

These pages include links to services such as our Students Advice Centre, the Disability Team, Counseling Service, Residential Services and Accommodation, Computing and IT support, Library, Careers Advisory Service, Work Experience Resource Centre, Chaplaincy, Alumni (Graduate) Office, University Nursery, Study Skills Programmes, Security and Portering, Sport and Recreation etc etc.

Last updated Nov 2009 by James Seymour, Head of Schools and Colleges Liaison © Aston University
Emails, more questions and comments welcome

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