Go Higher: The Midlands - Where Quality of Life Is Important ; from Urban Grit to Leafy Suburbs to Unspoilt Countryside, Universities and Colleges in the Midlands Offer Something for Everybody. by Wendy Berliner
Berliner, Wendy, The Independent (London, England)
The Midlands is a wonderful part of the country in which to be at university. Some of the best higher education in the country is found here, in vibrant cities, towns rich in history and on campuses boasting some of the finest modern architecture. Best of all, its position in the middle of the country's transport network makes it easy to reach.
The major cities vibrate with life and energy and culture. Birmingham, for example, has fine theatre, one of the best collections of pre-Raphaelite art in Europe and the magnificent Symphony Hall. Just outside the city is the National Exhibition Centre, which hosts major stars in concert, and the National Indoor Arena.
Outside the towns and cities is beautiful countryside. The Cotswolds, south-west of Birmingham has golden stone cottages with roses round the door. The Peak District in Derbyshire offers miles of walking off the beaten track and climbing too. On a more intimate scale, counties such as Northamptonshire which have escaped over development by being that bit too far from Birmingham and London, have unspoilt towns and villages throughout - perfect for visiting parents to take their offspring out for a nice pub lunch.
If you want touristy things, they are there too. For example, Cadbury World in Birmingham - home to the world-famous chocolate company; Alton Towers, one of the best of the British theme parks, in Staffordshire; The Tales of Robin Hood in Nottinghamshire (it's a cheesy ride); Shakespeare country at Stratford-on-Avon in Warwickshire; the gorgeous Warwick Castle or the gritty Black Country museum, with industrial relics including a mine and a tram you can ride.
Birmingham has the highest concentration of students in the region with three universities and a college of higher education. Birmingham University, one of the country's leading research universities, is one of the classic redbrick universities - its oldest buildings really are red brick and date from the 19th Century; it is where the description "red brick university" is said to have been coined.
A large clock tower of Big Ben proportions dominates the 230- acre campus which is only three miles from the heart of Britain's second city. It is approached by tree-lined roads and elegant Victorian villas. If you like cricket, Warwickshire's ground is only a couple of miles away in Edgbaston; if you like chocolate, Cadbury World is not much further away in Bourneville. Aston University stands right in the centre of the city in high-rise buildings that loom over the flyover bringing you in from Spaghetti Junction.
A former college of advanced technology, Aston has expanded since becoming a university and now has an increasingly green 40-acre campus and a lake.
The University of Central England, previously Birmingham Polytechnic, is on several sites in and around the city. The largest is Perry Barr, a busy northern suburb, but the sites vary enormously. Fine arts, for example, is in a refurbished listed building in the city centre, as is the Conservatoire and the jewellery school; other departments are in leafy suburbs.
Westhill College, whose degrees are validated by the University of Birmingham, is a higher education college on the leafy western fringes of the city where you are almost close enough to smell the chocolate from the Cadbury's factory.
In nearby Coventry, the university is the former polytechnic and is bang in the centre. It stands across the street from the old cathedral - bombed in the Second World War - and its 1960s replacement. In Wolverhampton, the university, also a former poly, has five campuses in and around the town. Because of their roots, both these universities have a lot of local students, mature students and part timers.
Also on the edge of Coventry is the University of Warwick. Founded in the 1960s, it has gone from strength to strength and …
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Publication information: Article title: Go Higher: The Midlands - Where Quality of Life Is Important ; from Urban Grit to Leafy Suburbs to Unspoilt Countryside, Universities and Colleges in the Midlands Offer Something for Everybody. by Wendy Berliner. Contributors: Berliner, Wendy - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: August 6, 2001. Page number: 2,3. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.