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Welcome talk

Hear from our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Plowden, and current student, Shelby, as they welcome you to the University and tell you all about what makes BCU special.

Welcome to our on-campus Virtual Open Day

Vice-Chancellor's Welcome Talk

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Philip Plowden, tells you more about BCU and what sets it apart.

Shelby's welcome talk

Current student, Shelby, tells you all about why she chose to study at BCU and how she's found the experience so far!


All of the videos on this page have been audibly transcribed.

  • March Welcome Talk
    [00:00:03] Amy from BCU: Hello and welcome to Birmingham City University in our virtual open day, live from our campuses here in the heart of Birmingham, straight into your living room. It's my absolute pleasure to welcome you today. I'm the manager of our schools and college liaison team here at BCU. And a big part of our work is to offer advice and guidance to people like yourselves about higher education, particularly those looking to join our university. So there's a good chance that some of you may have already talked to one of our team about Birmingham City University. If not, that's what today is all about. It's a great opportunity for you to find out more about the course that you are looking study and what it's like to be a student here. I myself am a proud graduate of BCU, having gained my master's in English at our old Perry Barr campus. It's amazing to see how much the University has developed in such a short time. And to look forward to what is ahead. It really is an exciting place to be. However, you don't just have to take my word for it. There are plenty of people to hear from at today's event. We are so excited to be delivering this very special open day, today is the first time we've been able to show potential students inside our buildings since November 2019. And while we are all still very sorry that we can't welcome you back to our buildings in person, we hope that you will enjoy seeing some of the spaces and places that make Birmingham City University such a great place to study. We have a range of talks and different sessions for you to enjoy today with many of them coming live from our university buildings, of course, the health and safety of our whole community is very much our priority. And so, unfortunately, there are some spaces we are unable to fit a panel of staff and students in at present with covid restrictions. However, to ensure you don't miss out whatever the subject area you are interested in. We have our staff on hand to show you around our buildings on guided tours. So please do search for the course you are interested in on our tours page. And also if you pop across to our Instagram stories, we have a team of student bloggers ready to help you to create your own tour, simply send them a message, telling them what you like to see. And they will head to those spaces to show you just what they look like. Now, as you can see from my location here at the top of our Curzon building, BCU is at the heart of an amazing city. The city is full of opportunities for our students. And the links that we have with industry means our students have lots of chances to connect through placements, work experience and hear from people working in the types of jobs they hope to go into when they graduate. The ability to make these links with industry is something which has been at the core of the BCU education since our earliest days as a range of colleges which date back as far as 1843 and a look into the future, we have HS2 being built right here outside our front door, which will bring even more opportunity to the city. And of course, the Commonwealth Games will be taking place in Birmingham next summer, bringing even more people investment and development to the city. Back here at BCU, whichever campus you are hoping to study at, we have facilities which will inspire you and enable you to put your newly learnt skills into practise straightaway. It's one of the reasons we wanted to bring this live event from campus today to give you a chance to see these unique spaces. So whether it's our mock law court, hospital ward or the historic surroundings of our schools of art and jewellery, please sit back, grab a cup of tea or coffee and allow us to show you all the BCU has to offer. We hope you enjoy your virtual open day experience and we can't wait until the next time when we can see you in person. [00:00:03][0.0]
  • Vice Chancellors Welcome Talk
    Shelby Thomas - Student: [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to our Virtual Open Day. I'm Shelby, a third year criminology and security studies student at BCU. Of course, would normally be welcoming you to one of our lovely campuses in either Birmingham City Centre or leafy Edgbaston, but we're not able to do this at the moment, so we're going to bring our campuses to you. We're really glad you're able to join us today and we can't quite see lots of you in person very soon. Over the course of today's virtual event you'll have the chance to look round our buildings, hear from academics on the courses you're interested in and have your questions answered on admissions, accommodation and student finance. If you haven't already signed up for the sessions you're interested in, please make sure you do so once this talk is finished. Now, normally at this point in an open day on campus, I'd be sat on the stage at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire waiting to talk to you all about what it's like to be a student here at BCU once our vice chancellor, Professor Philip Plowden, has welcomed you all to the university. And I'm still going to do they say you can hear a little bit more about the opportunities and experiences I've had and you could, too, if you choose to come to BCU. But first, I would like to introduce you to Professor Plowden from the stage of the conservatoire, who's going to introduce you all to our very special university. [00:01:21][77.8] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:01:23] Welcome virtually to the amazing Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, a proud part of Birmingham City University and welcome to this unusual virtual open day talk from myself, I'm Philip Plowden, I'm the Vice Chancellor here at Birmingham City University. And I'm sorry that we can't get you in in person for the open day, but you'll appreciate that we need to ensure not only that we protect your health and wellbeing, but particularly that we look after the health and wellbeing of all of our staff and all of our students. I hope that even though you'll be looking at material online and interacting online, you get what you need and that you have the opportunity to find out more about this amazing university. But before I go any further, I'd like to hand over to somebody really special. [00:02:15][51.8] Lenny Henry: [00:02:18] Hello and welcome to Birmingham City University, of which I am chancellor. That is correct, my friends. I, Lenny Henry am chancellor. It's also where you could be studying at some point in the very near future. But before then, I really hope you enjoy your day and take all the time you need to see everything BCU has to offer. Make sure you talk to the fantastic staff and the students who can answer some of the thousands of questions you will doubtless have about our university, about the great city of Birmingham, which is almost as incredible as Dudley, and about taking that exciting step into higher education. It took me a while to get around to it myself, about 40 years, but whatever your age, background or circumstances, going to university can be the best thing you will ever, ever do. [00:03:04][45.5] June Sarpong: [00:03:07] When you when were growing up as a little boy in Dudley, did you think he would one day become a sir and the Chancellor of BCU? [00:03:14][6.7] Lenny Henry: [00:03:16] No, I didn't think I was going to get any of that stuff because there is a saying which goes, if you can't see, you can't be. Yeah. So if you watch television and you see the chancellor or the Prime Minister or a local councillor or the mayor or something. For me anyway, anybody in our family it was rare that you saw anybody that looked like me. [00:03:37][21.3] June Sarpong: [00:03:38] Yeah. [00:03:38][0.0] Lenny Henry: [00:03:42] It's true. You're graduating into a time of great uncertainty, but as I look out to all of you today, I am not afraid. Can I hear you say hallelujah? [00:03:49][7.9] Crowd: [00:03:49] Hallelujah! [00:03:49][0.0] Lenny Henry: [00:03:51] Because I see the future looking back at me, young, passionate people who can rise to any challenge. When I think of the skills, experiences and opportunities that you've been given while studying at BCU, I am not afraid because I know that will help forge careers allowing you to make a difference. When I see your enthusiasm, potential and ambition, I am not afraid because I know you are fully equipped to go out into the world and make a better, fairer place in which nobody is left behind. [00:04:18][26.5] Lenny Henry: [00:04:22] And over whatever else I've done to this point in my life, getting my degree was right up there. In fact, I loved it so much I went and got myself a Masters and then a PhD too! Have a great day. Have a fantastic day and all the very best with whatever you choose to go on to do next. PEACE. [00:04:38][15.8] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:04:41] So we're very proud of having Sir Lenny Henry as our chancellor here at Birmingham City University. He's more than just somebody who comes from this part of the world and has obviously made an international career for himself. He is somebody who, as you can tell from his introduction, believes deeply in the power of education. He was himself, as he said, the first person in his family to go to education. He came to higher education late, having built a really successful career. But even now, he sees higher education as something that has been transformative for him and that has enabled him to do so much more with his career. So we are absolutely delighted to have him as our chancellor. And that takes me on to something that's very dear to us here at BCU, and that's, ah, I am BCU campaign and it's something that you will see on our website, it's something you will see on our materials and it's not something that was dreamt up by our lovely marketing team it actually came from our students and it was something that they were using in their social media posts. And when we asked them what I am BCU meant to them, they told us that it was about really three things. They told us it was about their pride, that it was about their confidence and above all, it was about their sense of belonging here at BCU. And that is one of the things that I am most proud of BCU, is that we are a large university, but we are an enormously inclusive and mutually supportive institution. Obviously, we have the huge advantage of being based in one of the country's most thriving cities. There are around forty two thousand companies based here in Birmingham and that number is growing all the time. And at the same time as that, of course, we've got some very big ticket projects. We've got HSBC and various branches of Government relocating to our city. We've got high speed two landing right on the city centre campus of our university. We've got the testbed for the new 5G technologies, which we think are going to transform that interface between industry and their customers. And, of course, in due course, we will have the Commonwealth Games landing in the city. And what that means for our students is that this is a thriving city with a huge amount going on. It opens up a world of opportunities for our students who are studying here. But although these are changes which are contemporary, if you want, there are things that are happening here and now they're based very much in Birmingham's equally impressive heritage, and that heritage reaches back to the lunar society and Joseph Priestley. This is the city, after all, of a thousand trades of all the different industrial occupations. But it's also been the home of music and culture and culture and the performing arts continue to thrive in the city, which is one reason why we have parts of the university, like our amazing School of Jewellery and like this, the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. We've been here in the city for over 175 years now. On the slide, you can see our amazing school of art here in the centre of the city since the 18th 80s. That's a picture taken in one of the drawing galleries and it is still there even now, even though the students probably don't look quite like that anymore. And as in 1843, when we were founded as the Birmingham Government School of Design, we were founded in order to deliver practice based support to the industries in what was then a growing city and we've stayed true to that heritage for 175 years now. We believe deeply in practise based learning. We believe in learning that equips our students for life after study, for industry and for jobs, and that's why we are one of the top 10 universities in the UK, I actually think according to the most recent data, we're in the top seven universities in England for graduate employability. And we haven't, of course, stood still. Our city centre campus has been transformed over the last five or six years. We spent around 350 million pounds ensuring that our buildings are state-of-the-art and that our students get the educational opportunities that they aspire to. And we have, of course, during that time transformed the heart of the city. [00:09:32][290.7] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:09:34] But we build very much on our roots. We build on what we have always been, which is a practise orientated institution, and this slide is our amazing School of Jewellery up in Birmingham's unique Jewellery Quarter. And it has courses there like Horology and Silversmithing and all the craft elements of jewellery and if you see that potentially is something that has very little relevance to the courses that perhaps you're thinking of studying the point is that it is that practice-orientated education that sets at the heart of what we do. And it remains deeply relevant and deeply important. And this is myself and my colleague, Professor Allison Honour down at Buckingham Palace, only a few weeks ago, receiving a unique honour, the Queen's Anniversary prise for higher education, for the work of our School of Jewellery, but for the university as a whole. And what that medal recognised was that Birmingham City University, now just as over its 175 year heritage, continues to deliver outstanding quality education that makes a real difference to the world around us. And if jewellery is perhaps one of our heritage subjects, we also look forward. So this slide shows the Alexander Stadium, which will be the home of the Commonwealth Games in 2022. And its relevance says that as soon as the Games finishes, we'll be moving a number of our sports science programmes up into the Alex as part of ensuring that our students have access to the best possible facilities. [00:11:17][103.2] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:11:20] And although you won't be on the campus this weekend, you will have the opportunity, I hope, through the video material and the other material to see the amazing facilities that we have on both our city centre campus and our city south campus, which is the home of health, education and life sciences. Here on the city centre campus we have the largest green screen facilities outside London. We have state of the art, radio and recording studios. We have numerous law courts so that our law students can practise their skills. We have, of course, engineering workshops and we have a trading room for our business students. But alongside that, down in Edgbaston and in our city south campus, we have high performance sports facilities. We have mock wards and simulation equipment to ensure that our nurses and midwives and health professionals are able to practise their skills on the same equipment that they will be using in NHS hospitals and facilities. [00:12:25][64.8] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:12:28] Now, the buildings and the equipment are only part of what we do. What makes a university, a university and what makes each university so special is the people that work there. And it's always really difficult to choose two or three people to put on a slide for the open day, and I hope very much that as you engage with the disciplines that you're interested in, you get an opportunity to listen to some of the lecturing staff who teach on those disciplines. But for today's purposes, I pulled out Professor Lindsay Melville, who's the director of our Centre for Low Carbon Research. Professor Imran Awan, who's in our School of Social Sciences and is a government advisor on such things as Islamophobia and extremism. And Professor John York, who comes from my own discipline law and is a professor in human rights helping to write constitutions in countries around the world. We remain a deeply engaged and relevant university. And one of the things we do is we try to ensure that our students have an opportunity to grow. That's what university is, after all, all about. So we have the graduate plus scheme that enables our students to develop their employability skills. We have careers plus, so that's support and advice that helps us to get that amazing employability statistic I gave you earlier, seventh in the UK for employability. We have a go abroad scheme and although clearly at present that isn't something that we are proceeding with, normally we think it's really important that our students have an opportunity to get out of the university and to discover the broader world. [00:14:17][109.0] Professor Philip Plowden: [00:14:19] But equally, this is a very caring environment, and this is something that as a parent myself, I believe deeply in one of the hardest things I've ever had to do was to leave my own son at university and trust that that university was going to look after him the way I felt he needed to be looked after. So for any of you who are parents watching this, I can at least give you my assurance, we take the support of our students enormously seriously. We have dedicated student wellbeing facilities. We even have a clinical psychologist seconded from the NHS as part of our staff. So the well-being of your sons and your daughters, the well-being of you, if you're a potential student watching this is absolutely central to what we do. And I just wanted to finish off by talking just a little bit about the kind of world that our students graduate into. And this is an amazing group of people, but again, it's quite difficult to choose. But what makes I think this group so special is none of them went into careers that I think they fully expected to when they were studying with us. You've got the amazing singer songwriter Ivor Novello winning composer Laure Mvula, who studied here at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. And I suppose that of all of those people, Laura's career has come closest to what it was that she aspired to do when she was studying here. Lily Pebble's, who studied in our business school and is now one of the world's most successful YouTube influencers. She's a vlogger and she has hundreds of thousands of monthly followers. Now, when Lily was studying with us 10 years ago, that wasn't an occupation that even existed. The amazing Cal Henderson, who did his degree in software engineering with us again about 10, 15 years ago now, and went on to found a number of companies, including being co-founder of the global software Slack, which is an application for workplace collaboration, which is used in many of our companies, and which was floated on the American stock market this year with an initial value of over 20 billion dollars. Now, I can't promise that all of you who study here are going to have Cal's career, but it indicates the sheer breadth of things that university opens up to you. And of course, it's not all about the people who go on and have those careers with those kinds of profiles, our graduates go into jobs as teachers, as lawyers, as health care professionals, as architects and business leaders. They lead charities. They change people's lives. And again, that is one of the things that makes university quite so special, is the ability that we have to open up opportunities for all of you who choose to come and study with us. But I do want to say that if in due course you've got the opportunity to come and visit us do come and visit, because there's nothing quite like being here. But if you're having to take your decision based on what you're seeing online, please be confident that this is a university that is growing fast. That has confidence in its own future and is in this amazing city, which opens up opportunities for all of our students going forward. So thank you for watching this. [00:14:19][0.0] [820.9]
  • Shelby's Welcome Talk
    Shelby Thomas - student: [00:00:04] Hi, I'm Shelby, a third year criminology and security studies student, and I've experienced so much during my time here at university and I want to share a little bit of that with you today. When I was finishing up at college, I had plenty of ideas of what I wanted to do or what I thought would be good for me, but I was really struggling to choose. Surprisingly, coming to university wasn't even something I was considering, but I ended up here. The UCAS deadline was only a couple of days away when I decided that university might be good for me. I looked at the two degree courses that I'd narrowed it down to, at dozens of universities online and when I came to BCU's I noticed that they had an open door coming up that Saturday. So I decided to go just to see me. Me and my dad spent the day exploring the city centre campus. We attended a practise lecture and we learnt a lot about my course. After that day, I was able to decide on what I wanted. I went home, wrote a personal statement and sent off my applications. Before coming to BCU, I had minimal direction of what I wanted, but since starting my course, my plan for the future has only become clearer. Don't get me wrong, I don't have everything 100 percent worked out but BCU has not helped me realise my goals, but given me the knowledge to help me achieve them. My modules have covered a variety of subjects across the field of criminology, given me insights into possible future employment in the prison system, forensics and policing. I've had the opportunity to attend guest lectures from people who've worked in a variety of fields, giving me the opportunity to narrow down what I want by learning from their experiences. One lecture I attended during my first year was from Jackie Molton. She's a former detective, but also the real-life inspiration for DCI Jane Tennison on Prime Suspect. Jackie's story is both interesting and eye-opening. I mention this because I want you to realise that university isn't just all books. I mean, yet there are a lot of books but here at BCU you're at a university with industry connections. And while studying, you'll learn about a lot of future career opportunities while you work out what's best for you. I know it's weird to talk about it now, since you haven't started university yet, but there is stuff that comes after and BCU has helped me plan and realised what I want. Before coming to university, I wasn't the type of person who took advantage of opportunities. Mainly because I didn't have the confidence. However, university gave me that clean slate and the boost I needed and BCU definitely isn't lacking in opportunity. A few months before starting here, I saw an ad on Twitter. It was the university asking for students who were interested in creating social media content for YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, something that was way out of my comfort zone, so I scrolled straight past it. However, after some thought and a pretty cringey audition video, I ended up applying and I don't regret it. As a result, snippets of my entire university journey are documented on YouTube. Yes, some of them are a little hard to watch, but I started my university journey by putting myself out there and it led to great things. A couple of my favourites include interviewing Lily Pebbles. She's a BCU alumni, but also a social media star with a massive following, something you don't get to do everyday. I've attended events at the NEC with a press pass. Last year I went to Crufts as a photographer representing the university. I found myself in a press room full of industry professionals. I was up close and personal with celebrities and their dogs. Jamie Essex even posted photo I took on his Instagram. Not too bad. I've hosted Facebook live streams, something that was a little scary but I learned that just because I was nervous to do something didn't mean it was automatically going to work out bad, but it was a good opportunity for personal growth and I do believe I've grown a lot since starting here. I remember one night I was out just after starting university and I was with some friends, one of whom I'd known since primary school and she commented on how confident I'd seemed recently. Three years ago, when I was where you are now, I would never have thought I could do all of these things that I'm sharing with you today. But because I took the opportunities that BCU to presented to me, here I am. During your time university, there will be plenty of opportunities up for grabs. Whether they fall in your lap by showing up on your Twitter feed or they're something you have to look a little harder for, there are plenty of opportunities out there and I encourage you to take them. It can completely change the type of experience you have here at university. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me talk about my experiences here. But it's time for you to find out about BCU for yourself, via our virtual open day. Go and find out what opportunities BCU has for you. Thank you. [00:00:04][0.0]