By Emma, Chemical Engineering
College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Birmingham
Trying to find the perfect balance of everything in a university is sometimes difficult. We are presented with a seemingly unending list of options of courses and universities and narrowing them down can sometimes seem overwhelming. I decided to pursue studying chemical engineering at the end of high school as it encompassed aspects of all the subjects I had been passionate about: chemistry, biology, and maths.
I wanted a course that would challenge me, interest me, and allow me to progress into my career. As a college student, I first looked at league table rankings to narrow down my options, which led me to apply to Birmingham. Regardless of which source you check, Birmingham is up at the top of all UK universities for Chemical Engineering, and I wanted to make sure that the university I attended was focused on teaching and research.
I’d received an offer from the University of Birmingham before I set foot on campus. However, when I did, I knew it was the right place for me. I was greeted by students and lecturers who were welcoming and willing to answer all my questions about their experiences here, and the campus is strikingly beautiful. I had always been interested in campus universities, as I have a lot of green spaces around me in my hometown and it is something that makes me feel at home. Many of the centrally based universities felt too built-up and industrial for me to picture myself settling in well.
It was also important to me that the university I chose was focused on supporting women in STEM fields, and the School of Chemical Engineering at Birmingham holds the Athena Swan Bronze award and is now working towards silver. Dedication to combatting gender inequality was a sign to me that the university had a vested interest in my wellbeing and progression into a STEM field.
The thing I found the most useful was talking to current students and reading about their experiences on blogs – just like the one you’re reading now! Students know the most about what it’s like to actually study in the department. They can give a realistic view of the experience, including wider university life. Whenever I spoke to a chemical engineering student here, they didn’t have a bad thing to say about the course. They also highlighted the wide range of societies here, including BUCES, the society for chemical engineering students. Societies have definitely been the driving force for my current friendships, and the events are a great way to experience new things at university.
I also loved the facilities that are accessible to me here, such as Winterbourne Gardens and The Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Having places to unwind after studying is important to me, and my plant collection has been slowly growing because of the Winterbourne Gardens gift shop – thanks Winterbourne!
I can’t pinpoint the sole reason why I chose to study here, as I think Birmingham just has so much to offer. One thing for sure, I know I chose the right university.