Shona McQuillan

Shona McQuillan

Shona McQuillan – Manager of the Course Enquiries Team  at Birmingham City University

You have been investing in your future since the day you first ordered a prospectus, browsed university websites, visited countless open days, filled out your application form and attended applicant visit days.

You’ve researched the courses you applied for and questioned tutors. You’ve chatted to your family and friends about your plans and the courses that sparked your interest. You’ve carefully and thoroughly weighed it all up for what seemed like ages before you accepted your offer.

You invested very wisely with the time and energy you put in back then so that, when the offers arrived and the time came to decide which university to accept, you felt confident and excited about your number one choice. When you made that decision, you made it for a reason – because that choice was the right one for you and you had taken measured steps to reach that decision in a level-headed way.

However, some universities have been offering financial incentives to court prospective students. But it’s important to question whether such enticements really add value beyond their cash value – and what real difference it will make to you and your experience as a student.

Learning in higher education is a two-way process. It’s a ‘gift’ culture which involves exchanges that stretch far beyond financial transactions or cash offers. It recognises that there is a connection between teacher and learner beyond the downward cascade of knowledge, individual opinions, perspectives and learning styles.

This culture understands that these things have to be nurtured and encouraged to ensure that academia continues to be enriched and that those who choose to study benefit from this. It involves effort on both sides; an ‘exchange of gifts’. You don’t purchase a degree and we don’t just hand one to you – we have to invest in a wider delivery than taught elements of courses and students need to engage with this broader offering to benefit.

So, while the incentive of a discount in fees or a cash sum might seem enticing at first, it doesn’t necessarily indicate that the added value is there. Instead, Birmingham City University chooses to invest our money to benefit the future success of our student population and to ensure that the gift culture exists way beyond the first year of study. A few examples of this are:

  • The Centre for Academic Success – a free resource for Birmingham City University students to help them be the best. Our students have access to dedicated support designed to maximise their success – with specialist advice and help available to focus on your academic excellence. You can’t buy a first class degree, but if you need or want an extra boost to achieve top grades we can help you work to achieve it at no extra cost if you are prepared to put in the time and effort.
  • Student Academic Partners, a scheme that empowers our students and encourages them to be active members of our learning community. This award-winning initiative is run in partnership with the Students’ Union and provides an opportunity for students to work on projects to develop a specific aspect of learning and teaching at the University.
  • Birmingham City University has a strong record for placing students in graduate-level employment – and a lot of that is down to the excellent relationships we have with leading employers. Apple, Cartier, Cisco, Sony and Rolls-Royce are just some of the firms where our students have undertaken placements, gaining valuable experience of the workplace and building contacts with potential employers.
  • Professional skills development – through initiatives such as Birmingham City Business School’s innovative Leadership Challenge which gives students the opportunity to gain practical experience and skills through a variety of workshops and extra-curricular sessions.
  • This September the University open its doors to The Parkside Building, a state-of-the-art facility that will be home to our world-class design and media provision. Based in the heart of the city, this new facility will be one of most sophisticated learning spaces in the university sector – and work is well underway to complete the next phase of the development.

So, adding real value doesn’t always equate to seemingly cheaper fees or quick cash in your pocket. Remember: your future is not for sale, especially not after the significant investment you have already made yourself when choosing your course and university. Stand firm and believe in the integrity of your own choice and be sure that the university you choose is, like you, investing in your future.

If you’d like to find out more about how Birmingham City University add value to your course and student experience, get in touch with the Course Enquiries Team on 0121 331 5595.

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Shona McQuillan

Senior adviser and manager of the Course Enquiries Team at Birmingham City University.

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