Birmingham City University (BCU) has a long and rich history of education in the city, dating back to its beginnings as the Birmingham College of Art in 1843. By 1971 it had become a polytechnic university, and in 1992 it was granted full university status. In 2007 it was rebranded as BCU.
BCU offers courses in art and design, business, the built environment, computing, education, engineering, English, health care, law, social sciences, technology and the performing arts across its four faculties and three campuses. Their academic staff maintain close links with their respective industries, and many have achieved prominence in their fields; for example, the UK’s leading criminologist and the first female president of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The university’s greatest strength is arguably its creative and performing arts programmes. It houses the Birmingham Government School of Design, which was the first college of design to open outside of London in 1843, as well as the Birmingham School of Music (now the Birmingham Conservatoire, opened in 1886). This puts BCU in a leading position within the UK’s higher education landscape.
BCU’s student body of 25,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students includes half from the West Midlands, the majority of whom come from ethnic minorities. BCU was the first university in Europe to launch a Black Studies undergraduate degree to study the history, social movements and contributions of people of African descent.