Aston University is a small campus based uni with lovely grassy areas and a small lake yet it is also handily located very close to the centre of Birmingham. It's an established uni too, being formed out of Birmingham Municipal Technical School back in 1966. Since then it's developed as a university to have some great courses in business, science and engineering.
Aston Library is located on campus, for those living on campus (mainly first years and final years) it is less than a five minute walk away from all on campus accommodation.
The library underwent major refurbishment on the ground floor and re-opened in November 2010 with more group study space on the ground floor, a computer lab and brightly coloured furniture.
The library consists of four floors containing books across all subjects studied at the university, and is accessed using your university swipe card. Certain floors are allocated as 'silent floors' to allow students to study without any disturbances. Other floors are allocated as 'group study floors', which is useful for working with friends or meeting fellow group mates for group coursework. There are PCs on each floor for any Aston student to use, although it is advisable to get there early as there usually aren't enough to go around! In addition laptops can be hired, but again the number is limited. The Learning & Skills Centre is also allocated in the library, providing advice on essay writing, referencing and general academic support. There is also a café allocated in the library to provide a break from studying, serving hot/cold drinks, sandwiches and cakes. On the whole there is a wide range of study material within the library but books on the reading list for courses are often in high demand and can sometimes only be loaned for a short period (24 hours). Longer book loans range up to two months.
The library is now open 24/6 during and in the lead up to exam periods.
IT and Computing
The library is open until 10pm on weekdays and 5pm at weekends, and provides PCs as well as the option to hire a laptop. Unfortunately both PCs and laptops are usually limited for the number of students requiring to use them, and it is advisable to use a computer lab in the main building if you need to use a computer. The main building is open 24 hours a day (except during vacation periods when opening times may differ). In the main building there are different computer labs for different courses e.g. Aston Business School has its own computer suite which can only be used by Aston Business School students, and likewise for Life & Health Sciences and Languages & Social Sciences. Each student can access his/her computer lab by swiping in using their university card (this prevents students from using different faculties' labs to their own).
There is also a mac room for programming students (Computer Science) which is used for lectures during lecture hours and open for the rest of the day. Some of the PC labs have Ubuntu on them. The school of Science and Engineering has various labs including analogue Electronics, Telecommunications and Hardware Description Languages which are open during lecture hours.
Sport is important at Aston, and the uni offers a wide range of sports, and good facilities to back it up. Whether you want to try something new, or continue with a sport you know best. This uni can provide a range of opportunities, whether your motivation is towards training for an event, generally just interested in keeping fit, the chance to be competitive or just have fun with your friends.
The biggest sports societies at Aston are the Stags (Football), Unicorns (Hockey) and Cobras (Rugby), though many other sports such as Lacrosse, Korfball, Ultimate Frisbee, Gaelic Football, Jujutsu and MANY more. Plus, if you play a sport and there is no society for it, get some people together, and set a club up. Most large sports are played at BUSA level, and also in local leagues.
The sports facilities at Aston have recently been under large investment, including The Doug Ellis Woodcock Sports Centre which is now open after the completion of a multi-million pound refurbishment which includes a brand new gym with brand new equipment, and the Woodcock pool which has also been under redevelopment, including a new sauna and steam rooms. There is also Gem Sports Centre on campus, and a newly developed astroturf pitch available to hire for up to three 5-a-side pitches or one 8-a-side match and is located in the centre of campus. There is also a recreation centre a short drive away with good facilities, where home games for football, hockey etc. are played.
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Aston offers a counselling service which aims to provide a professional, confidential counselling service to all students and staff of the University. The service is provided free of charge and is available Monday - Friday, 9:30am-5pm on the upper foyer of the main building.
There is also the Students' Advice and Representation Centre, which is located on the first floor of the guild. You can book an appointment to talk to an advisor at the ARC who can help you with anything from financial problems to academic problems or finding accommodation in your second year. In short if you have a problem, they, or someone they can contact will be able to help you out!
The Disability and Additional Needs Unit (DANU) is also there for any student who has a disability or may need extra help with work. They are there to advise students with additional needs, provide them with information and, where appropriate, offer support for a variety of disabilities, impairments or issues, which may include providing note takers and sign language interpreters should a student need them.
Registration for the health centre is promoted during Freshers' Week but there is an opportunity to register later on in the academic year. The surgery is based on the lower ground floor of Boots in the city centre, although this is only around a 5 minute walk from campus. It is open 7 days a week with extended opening hours on Mondays (8am-7pm). There is also an NHS Walk in centre on the same site.
An on-campus drop student health centre is also available for students. It is usually open from around 10am-3pm although this can vary. However, the automated telephone service allows you to book an appointment 24 hours a day so you do not need to wait until the surgery opens to book an appointment. There is also a dental surgery and optician on campus and the nearest Boots pharmacy is ten minutes’ walk away.
On campus there is a shop in the Students’ Guild, which sells all your day-to-day snack/stationery/news essentials. Take a trip to the 1st Floor and you'll also find the John Smith Book Shop which has all of the essential textbooks that you will need for your studies.
On Aston street there is also the mini market (corner shop type thing), and Aston Wines, the off license and first stop for club tickets.
Naturally Birmingham, as Britain's second city, is a great place to shop. Corporation Street, New Street, The Palisades and the new Bullring Complex are all great places to shop, with something for everyone. More student priced things are available in the rag market and indoor markets, as well as the market behind the Bullring - food, basic cosmetics etc. are available at much better prices than the supermarket, and often at better quality. For supermarkets the nearest is a Tesco Express two minutes from campus, and there are a Tesco Metro and Sainsbury's Central in the city centre. For larger shopping, a taxi will be required, but if you share with your flatmates, it will only work out about a pound each.
There are plenty of places to eat on campus. In the Main Building the contemporary food court, CaféTierra, offers hot meals, grab and go snacks, sandwiches, salads and pastries, as well as COSTA coffee. There is also CaféLibro within Aston University Library also offers COSTA coffee and a host of grab and go sandwiches, pastries, snacks and paninis.
The Aston Students Guild has its very own Subway which is situated on the first floor in The Blue Room. It also has B4BAR which offers a chilled out yet lively atmosphere providing a good place for students to chill out and meet their friends while they grab something to eat or drink at a reasonable price.
Unrelated to the University, but still essentially on campus is also the Sacks of Potatoes pub and Gosta Green pub which where students also often pop by for somewhere to hang out with their friends and grab something to eat or drink. And if students ever want food which is quick and cheap, takeaways are available from Coffee and Cream (located on Aston Street) Chicken Hut, and Caspian Pizza which are all local.
There are many restaurants in central Birmingham catering to all tastes and needs. The Bullring shopping centre houses restaurants such as Nando's, Pizza Hut, Wagamama's etc. The Mailbox is a good place to take the parents - located approximately 20 minutes walking distance from campus, the Mailbox is a prestigious shopping centre with restaurants surrounding one of Birmingham's canals. It can be a bit pricey so is best saved for a trip with the family or other half! An Aston institution is the Manzil's curry from Manzil's in Digbeth, who will give you a good discount. Corporation Street (two minutes across from uni) has several restaurants offering student discount and/or cheap lunch or early dinner menus. There are also several all-you-can-eat places, including the infamous Big Wok - priced at around £5 for lunch menu or £10 for an evening menu it is really good value for money and offers all the Chinese food you can imagine! The best thing is to explore around and find a place you like the look of, and the prices, and then ask someone if they know if it’s any good.
All major banks are a five-ten minute walk from campus.
The majority of first years live in one of the university's halls of residence, or one of the independent student halls e.g. Unite or Derwent Living. Whilst this is the case, transport is not a major issue; the three train stations in Birmingham (New Street, Moor Street and Snow Hill) are all within 15 minutes walking distance, the city centre is a 5-10 minute walk away and all lectures take place in the main building which is only a five minute walk away. Clubs and bars are also within walking distance if you're feeling ambitious, if not or if you are being hindered by an impractical pair of high heels, there is a taxi rank on campus (again within five minutes’ walk from halls). The price of taxis to Broad Street - one of the main going out areas in Birmingham - is usually around £10.
Some second years move out to Erdington, which is about 10 minutes away on the bus. Certain areas of Erdington e.g. Slade Road are only serviced by one bus. However if you live near or on Gravelly Hill there are at least five buses to uni and the city centre. Fares are approx. £1.40 each way or you can buy a student bus pass for approx. £104 per term or approx. £260 for the full academic year.
If you are an international student, Birmingham's airport (Birmingham International) is located just outside the city, approximately four stops on the train from New Street train station and takes about 20 minutes to get there. Birmingham International is a large airport offering direct services worldwide.
Aston has a good careers system, backed up by the opportunity to go on placement for many of the degrees on offer. The placement year in business Aston has a great record in graduate employment. In fact, the Sunday Times said Aston is the best outside London for grad level jobs!
Graduate employers including Toyota, Ernst and Young, PwC, Land Rover, and many more all come to careers fairs held on campus, and speak to students. There is a wide variety of support provided by the Career Centre to help students secure a job through CV writing support, practice interviews, assessment centres and tests, cover letter writing etc. There are also the Student Advice Centre and the library, who will help with applications and CVs.
And as not everyone wants to go into work straight after graduation, there is also advice and support provided to students considering various other options after graduation such as further study (UK and Abroad), voluntary and charity work, travelling, and the self-employment route.
Aston University is one of 6 Universities who are part of the DTUS Scheme (Defense Technical Undergraduate Scheme) The scheme is a sponsorship scheme for students aiming to join either the Navy, Army, RAF or Civil Service as Engineering Officers. The MOD generously sponsors students on the scheme through engineering courses. Sponsorship is usually about £5,500 a year.
After University you will attend the relevant Officer training academy for the service you have signed up to and will then join the military as an officer to deploy, maintain and manage state-of-the-art technology. Application details can be found on the Aston site.
NOTE: To apply for Army through DTUS you must attend Welbeck Defense Sixth Form College. Navy, RAF and the civil service take direct entrants.
Aston uni has its own jobshop, a facility that you can sign up for and opt to receive notifications of any jobs that come up. These can include regular part time jobs or one off temping jobs to earn a bit of extra cash one week.
Other jobs offered by the uni include working as a student ambassador, which mainly involves helping out on open days for potential students, showing them round the campus etc. As part of this scheme you can also opt to be a show flat host (provided you live on campus), which involves showing groups of potential students around your bedroom/kitchen/bathroom and answering any questions they may have. Work on this scheme is casual, on a rota 'first come first serve' basis. Pay is around £6 per hour.
The uni also employs people to help out on its telefundraising campaign; a campaign that involves phoning alumni students to see if they or the company they are working for will donate money to help the university. The campaign runs for about 2 weeks in October, mainly in the evenings (5-9pm) and pay is around £6 per hour.
Aside from jobs offered by the university, part time work is available in the pubs on campus and the convenience shops in the guild. The city centre is only a few minutes' walk away so if you are still struggling to find a job there are plenty of temping agencies as well as a vast array of shops/bars/restaurants recruiting part time workers (particularly at Christmas time).
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Bars, Pubs and clubs
The main bar at the Aston Guild is the B4Bar, situated on the lower ground floor. On the floor above is the Blue Room, serving drinks on event nights. Furthermore on campus is the old-man frequented Sacks of Potatoes and the very popular pub Gosta.
There are four main weeks of events that are worth writing in your diary. Firstly; Freshers Week, which runs the week before everyone returns to uni for lectures. Freshers week is run by the guild, who employs 2nd, 3rd and 4th years as 'Aston Aunties'. Aston Aunties are appointed to different flats in the university's halls of residence, and are responsible for helping freshers to move in, taking the freshers out every night, organising various 'getting to know you' activities before nights out which may include some drinking games (note. You do not have to drink to join in). The job of an Auntie is to generally to make sure freshers are having a good time and to give them guidance. Throughout freshers week there are different events usually consisting of a Beach Party night (fancy dress beach party) a school daze night (everyone dresses in school uniform) a themed fancy dress ball (this year it was superheroes). There are also other events such as trips to Cadburys World, bowling and 'taster' sessions for any sports you may be interested in.
The next two weeks are Aston's RAG weeks. RAG is a charitable society that organises events to raise money for different charities and is free to join when you start at Aston. The first RAG week is in November and the second one is in February. During RAG week, there is always a pub crawl consisting of 1500 Aston students going down Broad Street (usually) and ending up in a club at the end. You are guaranteed to make new friends from this night! Everyone dresses up in T-shirts that cost around £7 and include club entry and drinks discounts. Other events in the week include Pounded (a night at the guild where drinks are extra cheap) and the Freakers Sexual Fantasy Ball (takes place during the November RAG week and involves fancy dress and a lot of imagination!)
Last but not least, in the final week of summer term the guild hosts 'Final Fling' - another week of events including another Aston pub crawl! There is also 'Guild on the Grass' hosted around the lake at uni. Guild on the grass creates a festival type atmosphere with live bands, outdoor bars, BBQs and bouncy castles! Other events during final fling include pounded but it varies every year.
Clubs and societies
The Guild provides a wide range of societies to support students' social, cultural and academic lives. Societies include Academic such as optics. Music such as Altsoc, Rocksoc and Fusion. Religious & Cultural such as Afro-Caribbean, French, German, Korean, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and many more! Other societies include extreme BBQ, LGB, anime, cinematic, mature students, model UN, RAG, motor sports and hiking & expedition among many others. Most of the sports societies meet on Wednesday nights in the guild to do 'sesh' - a part of Aston's unique culture! Sesh involves all members of the sports society sitting round a large table (one table per sports team) and playing drinking games. You do NOT have to drink alcohol to join in, but it is lots of fun and worth going to make friends! After sesh, everyone usually goes to a club in town. If you start Aston and it doesn't offer the society you are looking for, you can set up your own provided you can find a minimum of 4/5 students who are willing to join.
On campus accommodation is guaranteed if Aston is your firm choice, although it is quite common to get accommodation for insurance and clearing applications. However, you may not get your preferred type of accommodation.
You may also state if you would like a single-sex flat. The University will try to honour these preferences.
Aston University offers a range of campus accommodation, all of which is comfortable and convenient, with rent costs ranging from £78 pw for high-rise accommodation (Stafford Tower), to £129 pw for an ‘upper standard’ en-suite accommodation in the New Residences which includes a 3/4 size bed.
Aston is currently embarking on a new residence village project, where some of its old accommodation Dalton and Lawrence Tower was demolished on May 8th, to be replaced new en-suite accommodation for 1050 students and a number of business units. The first phase of the New Build accommodation opened for residence in the academic year 2010-2011. The development will take total campus accommodation to 2,400 rooms following completion of the l first phase of the Aston Student Village.
The high-rise towers (Dalton, Lawrence and Stafford) were constructed as a 40-year plan in 1971. Since the demolition of both Dalton and Lawrence Tower, only Stafford remains, providing a more standard and affordable quality of accommodation for Aston students in the city centre.
Lakeside (647 Rooms)
Situated on the edge of the campus overlooking the ornamental lake, Lakeside offers residents well-appointed en-suite accommodation in flats for between 6 and 10 students. Rooms have a shower, toilet and washbasin, a television aerial point and telephone. The kitchen and dining facilities are shared. Rent is £116.00 a week (2012-2013 fee), prices include central heating, electricity and water costs. Rent is paid in three termly instalments or can be paid in full at the finance office.
Stafford Tower (355 Rooms)
Stafford Tower is located on the outer edge of the campus overlooking the city centre. It has twenty floors, with two flats per floor, each with nine single study bedrooms sharing a kitchen and bathroom. There is a large communal bathroom for each floor with washbasins, showers, and toilets located in the middle of the building. Each single study bedroom has its own washbasin. Rent is £78.00 a week (2012-2013 fee), prices include central heating, electricity and water costs. Rent is paid in three termly instalments or can be paid in full at the finance office.
The New Build accommodation will form part of Aston's new Student Village which is currently still being built. The first phase opened for residence in the academic year 2010-2011. Students can share a 5 bed flat (£129.00 per week) or a 7 bed flat (£121.00 per week). Each room is en suite, however the kitchen and dining facilities are shared.
The Heights : Unite Accommodation
This is located opposite Aston University and offers en suite accommodation with excellent facilities from car parking to a large common room with sky TV/pool tables, vending etc. There is also staff presence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! The property comprises of studios, double studios and en suite bedrooms within three, four and five bedroom flats. Prices start from £90 a week.
Curzon Gateway : Unite Accommodation
New in 2008, Curzon Gateway is situated roughly 10 minutes walk from campus. There is limited parking available on site (around £10 per week) as well as other parking spots just off the site. Facilities are very similar to Londonderry and The Heights, with free basic internet being available to all residents.
Canalside: Derwent Living
This is located a short 5-10 minute walk from campus. The accommodation is nice but the walk isn't great at night. The flats consist of a kitchen/living room with sofa and sky TV, and bedrooms with en-suite. Prices start from £84 per week.
Jennens Court is located on Jennens Road which is just around the corner from Aston. There are two types of accommodation here, apartments (which range from 3, 4, 5 and 6 bedrooms) and studios. In the apartments, each bedroom is en suite and the kitchens are fully fitted. The lounge and kitchen are shared. Studios have their own private entrance along with a modern mini kitchen, en suite bathroom and study space. Prices start from £106 a week.
Aston Students Guild (ASG)
Aston Guild is located behind the Main Building, and contains a number of facilities which may be useful to students, and are widely used. Guild plays host to a massive variety of daytime and evening events including Poster Sales, Careers Fairs, Club Nights, Wrestling, Roller Discos and much more.
It also acts as an independent moderator for societies.
B4 Bar: Student Bar serving good food and alcohol all day, at reasonable prices (£2.00 per pint). The bar offers a Karaoke night once a week on Thursday, and is also used as a meeting place for some of Aston's societies. There are four pool tables, and televisions showing Premiership Football on weekends, and featured UEFA Champions League games live on alternate Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Mondays are sometimes used as quiz nights, with prizes offered.
JS Campus Shop: Small independent retail outlet selling newspapers and magazines, stationary and equipment, sandwiches, cold drinks and Aston merchandise (hoodies, baseball caps, etc). Open 9am-5pm. JS now has a book shop on the first floor of the Student Guild where you can buy new or used books for various courses.
Subway: Everyone's favourite American sandwich bar has a branch inside Aston Guild, open most of the day, and during Guild Nights, so grabbing a Sub of the Day on the way home at 3 in the morning is a very real possibility!
The Student Advice and Representation Centre - ARC: A place you can go to talk to people if you have any problems at Aston.
The Blue Room: A nice seating area, used as a common room during the day, and opened up on Guild Nights as a dance floor.
The Guild regularly holds event nights under the Juicy Fridays brand, which usually has a fancy dress theme. Notable events include the Sexual Fantasies Ball (Rag week 1), Heroes and Villains, School Daze and Halloween.
Drinks are cheap, and normally priced from around £1.20 (Spirit and mixer) and £1.80 (Carling). Ticket prices vary, but tend to be around £5, and fancy dress is listed as "essential", but in reality, a lot of people don't bother.
Tickets can be purchased from Guild Reps, Aston Wines or via the Guild Website (astonguild.org.uk).
Aston University is full of character, with some quite beautiful and interesting architecture throughout the campus. A good mixture of old and new, from the impressive main building with its various detailed architecture and stone work placed around the University, to its impressive new and modern accommodation both available and currently in the process of completion.
The Aston University Campus is in the centre of the exciting and vibrant city of Birmingham, the UK's second largest student city, and home to over 65,000 higher education students.
Birmingham is Britain’s second city, and is flourishing, internationally recognised as a leader in leisure, entertainment, business, shopping, industry and sport. Birmingham is home to the Bullring and the Mailbox, where you’re every want and need is available. The city centre is a fusion of attractive squares, modern shopping arcades, diverse pubs, clubs and restaurants and fine museums, theatres and art galleries – truly a World City. There is the Arcadian/ China town (10 min walk from campus), that’s good for shopping during the day, and going out during the night. Broad Street (20 min walk from campus) offers good student nights ensuring there is something for everyone especially with providing some big clubs such as Gatecrasher Birmingham. The Jewellery quarters (15 min walk from campus) also offers some really nice, chilled out and sophisticated bars, with some offering good live music.
Travel wise, New Street station is less than 15 min walk away from campus, so ensure you have your rail-card and anywhere in the UK is just minutes away.
Teaching quality at Aston University is of a high standard. The staff employed by Aston are all experts in their relevant subjects and continue to improve their knowledge by writing academic papers, books, or carrying out research projects, so you can be assured that you are gaining the knowledge you need. Ways of teaching are also varied in lots of different ways (debates, lectures, seminars, presentations) to suit everyone's needs.
According to the 2011 National Student Survey, student satisfaction levels were 86%, this is above the UK average and is the highest score of all Birmingham based universities.
Over 70% of Aston students are on degrees with teaching quality ratings of 22/24 or higher according to the Quality Assurance Agency.
If at any time there are suggestions or questions about teaching quality, students can go to the student representative/s of either the Teaching Committee or the Staff-Student Committee who will raise any issues to staff within this meeting to take into consideration (one of the latest queries by staff was about how to improve feedback to suit people's needs- methods in which it was done, deadlines for staff, how frequently it was received by students etc.). Staff are always open to hearing new suggestions and will always consider taking ideas on board.
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