April 2023

University College Birmingham wins student choice awards for the second year

By Melanie Hall

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University College Birmingham has once again come out top at the Whatuni Student Choice Awards (WUSCA), the only awards in the UK based solely on student votes.

The University not only won the International award at the WUSCAs, but won silver in the hotly-contested University of the Year category, which we won overall in 2022 along with Student Support. 

In fact, the top three institutions up for University of the Year were so close – by less than one point - awards organisers introduced a gold, silver and bronze ranking for the first time in the awards history.

This means we are the highest ranking university in Birmingham and the West Midlands, according to student choice. We also came second in three other categories - Student Support, Facilities and Career Prospects. 

An ecstatic team from across the University's departments was presented with the awards at a glittering ceremony hosted by comedian Ellie Taylor at the Brewery, London. The awards are unique in the sector in that they are based solely on student choice and recognise higher education providers for their efforts to meet and exceed student expectations. 

Winning the International award reflects a diverse university community and a growing overseas cohort.

Glowing reviews from international students included: "Diverse and inclusive. As an international student you don't really feel as an outsider and fit right in from day one. The teaching programme, modules and the teachers are excellent and effective." 

"To be just one point off winning University of the Year is a fantastic achievement, especially after winning last year."

Professor Michael Harkin Vice-Chancellor and Principal

Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience), said: “It’s an honour to have won the International award, which perfectly demonstrates the University’s dedication to providing an inclusive, welcoming experience for our international students.

"With our international student population growing year on year, the whole institution has been unwavering in its support for our international students.”

University College Birmingham scooped the International award and silver in University of the Year

Professor Michael Harkin, Vice-Chancellor and Principal, said: "Congratulations to our international team for their outstanding work in building the overall student experience and support for our overseas cohort from even before they arrive in the UK to their welfare while studying with us. As an extremely diverse community, we are also proud to have such excellent integration between our international and domestic students."

He added: "To be just one point off winning University of the Year is a fantastic achievement, especially after winning last year. I'd like to thank everyone in the sector for setting such a high bar. 

"We are proud that our students’ overall experience at the University has been overwhelmingly positive. Thank you to our staff and students for their unwavering support."

One student review said: "I would definitely recommend University College Birmingham to anyone looking for a top quality university. The academics are top notch, and the facilities are great. The campus is in a great location and there is plenty to do on campus. The staff are really friendly and help you to settle in quickly."

Each year, the WUSCA team receives approximately 35,000 verified reviews from on-campus visits across the country and online submissions via the whatuni.com website.  

Crucially, the awards are based on reviews from real students throughout the country, providing honest and unbiased information to help future learners and their families make the right choices about their future.

Not only did University College Birmingham win International and silver in the University of the Year categories, the University was also shortlisted for Student Support, Student Life, Career Prospects, Lecturers and Teaching Quality, Facilities, Postgraduate and Halls and Student Accommodation categories (see below).

In pictures: Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023

Simon Emmett, CEO at IDP Connect, said: "The Whatuni awards celebrate creativity, resilience and innovation within higher education. With the continuing cost-of-living challenges, we're proud to focus on all the good universities do and celebrate their successes.

"Congratulations go to the winners, alongside a huge ‘well done’ to all our shortlisted institutions and the sector as a whole. This year's scores are significantly higher than previous years, highlighting the excellent work done across the sector. I hope the awards highlight the quality of education and students' experiences across our wide and varied sector.

"Each of our winners and finalists has gone above and beyond to positively impact students' university experiences. These awards showcase the quality of higher education in the UK and its creativity, resilience and innovation."

University College Birmingham, an official partner of the University of Warwick to open up more opportunities for students in the region, offers a whole range of university and college level courses covering a broad range of subjects, from business, nursing, finance and accounting to aesthetics, aviation, sport and culinary arts.  

The University has also introduced new curriculum areas, including engineering and construction, and highly-relevant digital fields such as cyber security, with further investment in buildings and equipment. 

You can read University College Birmingham’s Whatuni profile here

WUSCA 2023: Our Awards and Nominations



The International category awards the overall student experience, and looks at the level of support for international students, as well as the integration between international and domestic students.

The University won this award due to the passion of the international team and their wealth of experience in offering extensive support for students from overseas, from even before they arrive in the UK, to their welfare while studying on the University’s courses.

Thank you to our international team and all students and staff who helped win us this award.

Learn more about our international community:

Find out more

University of the Year

Runner-up (silver award)

The top award at the WUSCAs, the UK's biggest student-voted annual awards, looks at students’ pride in their institution and their sense of belonging. While rating the whole university experience, the category examines every part of the student’s journey and their growth while at the University.

Winning silver is testament to our continued commitment to delivering enhanced prospects for students and addressing the regional skills gap alongside our partner, the University of Warwick. We have invested £160 million in state-of-the-art campuses and industry-leading facilities that ensure students receive a world-class curriculum.

Read more about our partnership with the University of Warwick:

Find out more

Career Prospects

Finalist - 2nd

Coming second demonstrates delivery of successful outcomes for students by our Hired team – our dedicated service providing careers guidance, CV advice and placement services.

José Lopes, Pro Vice-Chancellor (External Affairs), said: “We’re delighted to have come second in the Careers Prospects category. With our strong links to industry, our expert team provides all-round career support for students, from individual coaching to developing their essential workplace skills. With over 1,000 employers offering industry placements and other opportunities, we make sure our students are given the best possible preparation post-graduation.”

Find out more about how we help students get hired:

Find out more

Students at the Human Performance Lab University College Birmingham


Finalist - 2nd

Coming second in this category is compounded by a £160 million investment in new campuses, and specialist course facilities that include our renowned training restaurant, state-of-the-art mock plane cabin, cutting-edge engineering training simulations and our financial trading suite.

Mark Payne, Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services, said: “Our academic facilities have all been developed with the student experience in mind, to ensure students receive hands-on training that prepares them for employment. Our social spaces, specially designed learning spaces, fully-equipped gym and multiple restaurants and cafes offer an enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere for all students across our campuses.”

Explore our range of facilities:

Find out more

Student Support

Finalist - 2nd

Creating a positive environment for its students is paramount to University College Birmingham, which offers an enhanced student support hub with one-to-one tailored support services.  

Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience), said: “From our amazing teaching staff to our Centre for Academic Skills and English, which provides students with essential skills, to dedicated disability support through to our compassionate health and wellbeing team, the University is proud to be able to strengthen students’ experience. Thank you to all of our staff for their long-standing support for our students."

Learn more about our student support services:

Find out more

Lecturers and Teaching Quality


The University was a finalist in this category, which demonstrates commitment to teaching excellence, and the passion and support of our lecturers and teaching staff in delivering a rich curriculum for our students.

Professor Jane Perry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, said: “It’s a fantastic achievement to have made the shortlist for the Lecturers and Teaching Quality award. Thank you to our staff for their continual dedication and endless enthusiasm in providing world-class teaching for our students.”

Check out profiles for our teaching and support staff:

Find out more



Being a finalist in this award exemplifies the postgraduate programme’s stellar results in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES), where 99% of our postgraduates praise our teaching staff for their enthusiasm and 96% commended the University’s learning support.

Professor Jane Perry, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, said: “This demonstrates the excellent standards of the University’s postgraduate courses and commitment to an exceptional student experience, from our highly-specialised masters to our designated postgraduate accommodation facilities.”

Discover our postgraduate courses:

Find out more

Accommodation The Maltings Shared Kitchen

Halls and Student Accommodation


We were a finalist in this category, recognising the support from our dedicated accommodation team and the quality and comfort of The Maltings, the University’s canalside halls of residence that also features a sports hall, gym, newly-renovated social space with gaming facilities and IT suite.

Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience), said: “To be an award finalist is an absolute honour. We’re pleased that students have voted our halls to be high-quality, safe and cosy with plenty of study and recreational spaces, and that they have found our friendly accommodation team to be approachable and supportive.”

Learn more about our accommodation:

Find out more

Student Life


Our student services team is passionate about providing an enhanced student experience and community across the University’s campuses – from helping set up diverse event planning committees to its dedicated mental health and wellbeing staff, who are always on hand to support students.

Alice Wilby, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Access, Participation and Student Experience), said: “Thank you to our staff, students and ambassadors who create a fantastic environment and positive sense of community on campus. The Guild also ensures all students are heard on the issues that matter to them, so they have the opportunity to shape their course and experience."

Find out more

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