Freshers week: What it’s really like to be a university student in Birmingham - our ultimate guide

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From transport links, to places to eat out - this is your definitive guide for student life in Birmingham, including public transport and nights out, from our reporter Caragh McKenna who moved from Somerset to study in Brum

Have you just started university in Birmingham?

With the UK’s third biggest student population, the city is overflowing with opportunities and activities for students. Nestled in the heart of the Midlands, everything is going on in Brum. The second largest city in the UK, losing out only to London, Birmingham provides the exciting big city experience without the London prices!

So what’s it really like to be a student in Birmingham? I started studying journalism at Birmingham City University in 2022 after moving from Somerset, and here are some of my top tips on what makes it such a great place to do your degree. From transport links, to places to eat out - this is your definitive guide for student life in Birmingham:

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Birmingham is extremely well connected within its public transport - you’ll find it easy to navigate whether you’re getting to and from uni, or heading back home for the holidays.

Train -Travelling by train is by far the quickest form of public transport.There are three main stations in the city centre - Moor Street, Snow Hill and New Street - with the latter being the main station in Birmingham. For students attending Aston University and Birmingham City University these are ideally located. University of Birmingham has its own train station - a short 7 minute ride from New Street Station. Student train passes are available from the West Midlands Railway website and can save a great deal of money if you’re going to be commuting to and from the city centre.

Metro trams - The Metro runs between Birmingham and Wolverhampton making several stops along the way, and has been extended over the years - with plans in the works for even more expansions. An all day ticket will cost you £6.50, however if you will be using the service frequently, it’s worth looking into monthly and yearly passes. Here’s the Metro website

Bus - The bus service in Birmingham is vast - with stops pretty much everywhere. While slower than trains, the bus is a more wallet-friendly option for students - and student passes are available which work out to much less in the long run. Monthly or termly passes are available from as little as £40 and can be purchased on the National Express West Midlands bus website here.

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University studentsUniversity students
University students

Things to do

From the bustling city centre, to the trendy and unique Digbeth, there are no shortage of fun things to do in Birmingham.

Golf Fang - Think you’ve experienced crazy golf? Think again. Golf Fang has taken crazy and ran with it - with 18 mind blowing holes, you’re in for a treat. Located in Digbeth and brimming with neon, uv, elaborate sets, great drinks and awesome music, Golf Fang is a must do for any student. With drink and golf deals, this place is certified student friendly. For more info check out the Golf Fang website

Star City - Located only 10 minutes outside of the city centre, Star City is home to the biggest cinema in the UK, and with 30 screens there’s sure to be something on to suit everyone. But wait - there’s more! A 22 lane bowling alley and laser station can be found here also, along with a whole host of bars and restaurants which is bound to keep you busy for an evening. See more on the Star City website

Roller Jam - This roller rink in Digbeth, complete with food stalls and a bar, is a great option for a night out. With two for one cocktails and weekly deals on their website, this activity won’t break the bank - just don’t forget your elbow pads, this one can get slippy! Find out more on the Roller Jam website

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The Bullring - This list wouldn’t be complete without the Bullring Shopping centre. Home to more than 160 shops, there’s nothing you can’t find there. Whether you’re looking for an outfit for your next night out, or sourcing books for your course it has it all! Take a look at the Bullring website here

Eating out

Fancy a change from pot noodles and freezer food? Treat yourself to a meal out every once in a while - these are some of the best places to find great food.

The Balti Triangle - Here you will find some of the best curries in the UK. Home to the highest concentration of Balti houses in the city - you are sure to find a next level curry here.

The Chinese Quarter - The Chinese Quarter is full of buffets and takeaways with authentic Chinese cuisine, a lot of which are very welcoming towards student budgets.

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BrindleyPlace - Located just off of Broad Street by the canal, BrindleyPlace is full of interesting bars and places to eat. A little higher budget, this might be a place to drag relatives when they come to visit.

Digbeth Dining Club - Can’t decide on just one place? Look no further than Digbeth Dining Club - a street food market event open on select days of the week. Here, you can have a little bit of everything.

Bullring & Grand Central in Birmingham city centreBullring & Grand Central in Birmingham city centre
Bullring & Grand Central in Birmingham city centre

Nights Out

It couldn’t be a student guide to Birmingham without a bit of partying could it? Home to a whole host of different nightclubs that will appeal to everyone, no matter your music taste, you are spoilt for choice. The apps Fatsoma and Skiddle and absolutely vital for any student - these show you what events and deals are on and where, and you can buy your tickets here in advance to save money. Here’s a few clubs with legendary student nights:

Rosies - The home of Vodbull Thursdays - this is the longest running student only night in the country. With discounted drinks and entry, and even a free T-shirt if you’re lucky, Rosies is a must go. You’ll find it on Broad Street in the city centre.

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Heidi’s Bier Bar - Themed like a Ski Bar, Heidi’s is home to the 4 litre beer tower, and holds Naughty Horse Tuesday’s weekly - which includes a free vodka mixer! It’s also on Broad Street.

Snobs - A Birmingham classic reworked - Snobs Wednesdays are legendary within the student world. With discounted drinks and three floors with a mix of music, everyone will be happy. Also in the city centre, you’ll find it on Smallbrook Ringway.

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