Aston University, Birmingham

By Alice Tarleton

Published: 01 August 2006

Age: 111

History: Began life as Birmingham Municipal Technical School, was renamed Birmingham Central Technical College, then became first College of Advanced Technology, and finally, in 1966, a university.

Address: Birmingham.

Ambience: Set on a modern, 40-acre campus, Aston is a compact university with a friendly, close-knit atmosphere. The tree-ringed lake is a magnet for the 6,300 students. A £100m development of the campus is planned over the next 10 years. Campus is five mins walk from Birmingham city centre, with its excellent nightlife and futuristic BullRing Shopping Centre.

Vital statistics: Industry-focused university with 70% of students on sandwich courses. Business, engineering, languages, subjects allied to medicine, social sciences and health sciences are all strong points.

Added value: Strong European focus. One in ten students spends a year abroad as part of their course. A £100m campus development is in full swing: recent additions include shiny new psychology and audiology labs and a £22m extension to the Business School.

Easy to get into? About average. Entry requirements range from 240-260 points (transport/logistics) to 340 points (optomery).

Glittering alumni: Laura Jones, BBC Newsround Reporter, Gregor Townsend, rugby, Lord Rooker, Labour peer.

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 5-min cab journey. Three miles from the M6 and nine miles from Birmingham international airport.

Who's the boss? Currently Professor Mike Wright, an Aston alumnus. His successor has been named as Professor Julia King, 51, who's in charge of the Faculty of Engineering at Imperial College. Professor King 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.

Teaching: 19 out of 24 for chemical engineering and for maths; 21 for electrical and electronic engineering; 22 for French, German, psychology; 23 for biolological sciences, optometry; 24 for pharmacy, business and management. Business, languages, pharmacy, subjects allied to medicine and politics all scored highly in the National Student Satisfaction Survey.

Research: Came 32nd out of 106 in the 2001 research assessment exercise. Four out of five departments assessed were awarded 5 out of 5 - other studies allied to medicine (Optometry and Psychology), general engineering, business and management and European studies (including languages).

Nightlife: A lively spread of events at the students' guild, with several bars, four club nights a week plus occasional comedy nights, concerts and events such as the May Ball and the 'Astonbury' music festival. Plenty of affordable pubs and restaurants nearby.

Clubs & Societies: RAG raised more than £50,000 for charity last year – big bucks for a small university. Other student societies include: extreme barbecue, extreme ironing, queuing, formula student car racing, Greek, hiking, breakdancing, urban and salsa dancing, lacrosse, table tennis, mountaineering.

Cheap to live in? On-campus accommodation starts at £58 a week; £89 a week for en suite. Rents in the private sector average £55 a week.

Prospectus: 0121 204 4674; www.aston.ac.uk

UCAS code: A80

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