Section C: University & Medical School Life at Aston
1. Where is Aston University located?
Aston University’s campus is located in the city centre of Birmingham, which means that it is only about a 5-10 minute walk to Bullring and also the famous Birmingham Library (and Nandos!!). Moreover, it is just a 10 minute walk from the train and coach station, which is great for commuting. There is also a wide range of food places within walking distance to the university. Aston University is also just a 10 minute drive away from Heartlands Hospital.
2. Are students encouraged to take part in societies?
There is a wide range of societies available: academic and non-academic! As well as the medical specialty societies such as Paedsoc, Surgsoc etc, there are many more non-academic ones, such as Aston Arts Society, Chocolate Society, Drama Society, Doctor Who Society, Humanitarian Relief Society and many more. For a full list of societies see here: https://www.astonsu.com/activities/clubsandsocieties/.
There aren’t any societies exclusively for medical students as the medical school is quite small. Whilst this may mean you are less likely to socialise with your medical school colleagues outside of the more academic societies, the benefit of this is that you get to meet people from other courses.
It is also worth noting that the Student Union (SU) building at Aston won an award by ‘Buildings that inspire’. Here you can find a shop, cafe, social study spaces, support facilities, meeting and activity rooms as well as prayer rooms. Its multi-functionality makes it a great communal space!
3. What is the student satisfaction score for Aston University?
The university is Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Gold. Student satisfaction was 84% in 2019. This information can be found here: https://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/universities/aston-university-birmingham.
‘I think medical schools are renowned to be competitive and mostly daunting but at Aston teaching as well as the atmosphere is very interpersonal, supportive and encouraging. We are involved and heard individually and that’s what sets Aston Medical School apart.’ - Lareyb Noor, third year medical student.
‘As a second-year student at AMS, I have mainly experienced life in medical school via the online platform. Aside from the challenges of being confined to online learning, my experiences have been largely positive. I think that the quality of teaching is good; I learned so much in this last year alone, and I can't wait to learn about more bodily systems before we go hands-on into the clinical years in year 3 and onwards. I had GP placements in year 1, as well, despite COVID. The medical school is new, so we appreciate that it is learning and growing quite fast.‘ - Anonymous, second year medical student.
4. How diverse is Aston and in particular the medical school?
Aston Medical School is an extremely diverse medical school, just like the city it is based in - Birmingham. The school reserves 20 places for international students and 100 places for home students. Moreover, postgraduates are also offered places at the medical school. Aston also reserves 40 of its places for students that come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
In addition to this, for local students, Aston provides a Pathway to Healthcare Programme, which, upon completion will make the student eligible for a contextual offer if they apply to Aston University on the undergraduate Medicine and Life and Health Sciences degrees.
5. What bursaries are available at Aston university for Medicine students?
There are numerous scholarships available for students at Aston University. Some of these require applications whilst others don't therefore be sure to check this (https://www.aston.ac.uk/undergraduate/your-application/funding) to avoid missing out. The scholarships available 2021/2022 include:
- Aston Achievement/ Vice Chancellor’s Achievement Scholarship: Award of £500 available to UK students who achieve BBB or above in A-levels.
- Aston Alumni Undergraduate Scholarships: Award of £1500 in the first, second and third year of their degree, with an additional £500 in the first year to go towards initial university costs, totalling £5000. Available to UK students with a household income of less than £25000. Not only awarded on a financial basis - the student must have ‘amazing ambitions’.
- Aston Support Scholarship: Award of £1250 every year of degree, totalling £5000. Available to UK students classed as care leavers, children from a military family or refugees.
- Aston Mature Adult Learners Scholarship: Award of £500 every year of the degree (excluding placement year), totalling £1500. Available to UK students aged twenty-one or over.
- Aston Aspiration Scholarship: Award of £500 in year two of study. Available to UK students with a household income of up to and including £42,875.
- Aston Extra Scholarship: Award of £50 in each year of study (excusing placement year) totalling £150. Available to UK students who have completed formal enrolment and all associated checks.
- Aston Placement Scholarship: Award of £1250 to support living expenses during their placement year. Available to UK students with a household income of £42875 or below, those taking an unpaid placement year, or those undertaking a placement abroad.
Aston also offers financial hardship support through several funds, trusts and bursaries. For more information regarding these see here: https://www2.aston.ac.uk/current-students/hub/student-advice/fau.
6. Are student support services readily available and easy to access?
There are multiple means of accessing student support, including extremely supportive tutors. You have access to your tutors 24/7 by email and can see them in person or via Microsoft Teams if you need a chat. Every student is also part of a medical academic family which includes all the tutees of a tutor from each year group - a tutor has up to four tutees in each year group, so the academic families are quite small and homely. You will always feel heard. Moreover, medical school student support can be accessed via email or phone.
Aside from the medical school, the university itself has the Counselling and Mental Wellbeing Service. See here for more information: https://www2.aston.ac.uk/current-students/health-wellbeing/counselling-and-mental-wellbeing-service.
The university is very accommodating when it comes to taking time off for health and personal reasons. From what I understand, the process of deferring is very easy. Similarly, if you need to mitigate exams, this is possible and the process is straightforward (it just requires a form to be filled in).
7. What are the best food spots around Aston University?
Birmingham is known for having the most delicious food places! You’re bound to find something you like! These are some food places that are at walking distance to the university:
- Peri Peri
- Las Iguanas
- Sushi Passion
- China Town restaurants/cafes
- Food court at Bullring City Centre
There are also some good dessert places, including:
- Dolce Desserts
- Sundaes Gelato Birmingham
- Pirlo’s Dessert Lounge
Moreover, the Aston Meal Plan allows students living on campus to eat at Cafe Libro, Eros Cafe, and Tierra Food Court including Costa Coffee, without the need for cash. You can find more information here: https://www.aston.ac.uk/current-students/nourish.
Also, check out this link for more information on eating out and grocery shopping nearby and on campus: https://www2.aston.ac.uk/birmingham/city-living/eating-out .
8. Is student accommodation available for Aston University?
There are six main student accommodations for Aston University which are James Watt, William Murdoch, Mary Sturge, Harriet Martineu, Lakeside and Jennens Court. As Aston is a campus-based university, all of these accommodations are within a 1-4 minute walking distance from the medical school.
James Watt and William Murdoch are reserved for first year students only, so it is a great way for first years to get to know each other. There is the option for girls only and boys only accommodation.
It is extremely easy to find en-suite accommodation in these places, which means that you will have your own room and bathroom and a kitchen shared between 4-10 flatmates (which will have varying prices depending on the number of flatmates).
The average cost for an ensuite accommodation on-campus is £6-7K per annum. It is usually around £141-149 per week for ensuite on campus and cheaper than this for non-ensuite.
Apart from on campus, there are many other accommodations such as iQ Students Penworks House, Staniforth House, The Heights and Onyx.
If you are looking for a studio there are many available on-campus studios and also nearby.
For more information on Aston University accommodation see here: https://www.aston.ac.uk/undergraduate/your-application/accommodation.