Birmingham City University (BCU) was established initially as Birmingham College of Art with roots back to 1843.
It was made a polytechnic university in 1971 and gained university status in 1992. It is one of the city’s long-standing universities and the second largest of the five. It was renamed as Birmingham City University in 2007, as a reflection of the university’s pride and commitment to the city.
BCU has three main campuses serving four faculties, which offer courses in art and design, business, the built environment, computing, education, engineering, English, health care, law, social sciences, technology and the performing arts.
Many of its academics maintain strong links with their industries, often still operating within them, for example the UK’s leading criminologist and the first female president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Its strengths are in the creative and performing arts - the Birmingham Government School of Design was the first college of design outside London (opened in 1843) and the Birmingham School of Music, later the Birmingham Conservatoire (opened in 1886). Both were incorporated into the university and still have a strong standing in the UK’s higher education landscape.
There are 25,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, half of whom are from the West Midlands, the majority of whom are from ethnic minorities. It was the first university in Europe to launch a Black Studies undergraduate degree, to examine the history, social movements and contribution of people of African descent.
Notable alumni include singer Laura Mvula, comedian Frank Skinner, author Jim Crace and chairman of Morrisons supermarkets Andrew Higginson.