Fall, Spring, Academic Year
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Junior or senior standing, 3.0 GPA
3/20 for fall/academic year
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The reciprocal exchange program between the University of Iowa and University of Birmingham in Birmingham, England, allows undergraduate students to spend a semester or academic fully integrated with their British peers in student housing and attending regular classes.
Under the reciprocal exchange agreement, University of Iowa students pay their regular UI tuition and fees to participate in this program. Room and board is comparable to Iowa costs in the Mayflower residence hall. Added expenses include airfare, a UI administrative fee, and similar costs as described in the 'Costs' section of our website.
Birmingham offers a wide variety of courses (called 'modules') for exchange students. Depending on their level of experience, and length of time they plan to study abroad, students can choose from a huge variety of courses in Life & Environmental Sciences, Engineering and Physical Sciences, Arts & Law, and Social Sciences. Popular courses focus on Biosciences, Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, and Mechanical Engineering, Historical Studies, Law, Business, Education, and Public Policy.
University of Iowa students enroll in classes that are part of the regular curriculum at the University of Birmingham. This means participating in a system that is significantly different from the U.S. broad-based, liberal arts education, both in terms of calendar and specialization of studies. Students usually take between three and five courses each semester, earning between 12 and 16 semester hours of transfer credit for each semester.
One of the distinctive features of academic life in the UK is the specialized nature of the study which students undertake in higher education. Students will usually 'belong' to one and, at most, two schools or departments and will take the majority of their modules at Birmingham. As far as possible exchange students should try to choose the majority of their modules from one specific department as this will help to give them a better 'identity' during their time at Birmingham.
Take a look at the course options open to study abroad students by exploring the University of Birmingham's online 'Programmes and Modules Handbook' (check for 'Certificate' and 'Intermediate' which are roughly equivalent to first and second year courses at the University of Iowa).
Despite the fact that you are on exchange, you are required to undertake the same form of assessment as the local British students do in order to earn transfer credit at Iowa. This means that if you do not take the exam or turn in a required final paper, your British academic record will report a grade of 0.
The British grading system is significantly different from the US system. Grades are given as 'marks', and a score of 60% is typically considered a high mark. UI does not convert British marks into U.S. A-F grades. While you WILL receive credit for the courses you take in the UK, you will NOT receive a typical A-F grade. However, this does not mean that you are taking courses on a Pass/Fail basis. You will earn a final mark in terms of their system, and your British academic record will always report these. In order to receive credit for the course, you must receive a passing grade in the British system and, in the future, when official transcripts of your college work are requested, you will need to provide both an Iowa transcript and the British academic record – your British results will be highly visible.
The University of Birmingham Guild of Students organizes events and excursions throughout the academic year, and is home to almost 200 student groups, including societies (focused on like-minded people having fun doing activities together), volunteering projects, support groups, and residents’ associations.
The academic year begins in mid-September and runs through mid-June, with a month-long winter break and another generous break during the Easter holiday period.
Dates for the 2014-2015 academic year will be available in early spring 2014.
Cory Petersen, Advisor and Program Coordinator
Study Abroad | International Programs
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242-1802
The University of Birmingham was established by Queen Victoria by Royal Charter in 1900 and was the UK’s first civic or 'redbrick' university, where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. It is home to almost 27,000 students, 4,000 of whom come from 150 different countries. It is situated in a park-like suburban setting and has its own rail station, making the trip downtown fast and convenient.
Birmingham is the second-largest city in the United Kingdom (after London), with a vibrant city center dedicated to commerce, the arts, sport, and entertainment. It is located in the 'West Midlands' which are in the center of England, making it a nice location from which to explore the country. Birmingham has its own international airport and is two hours from London by train. The central location of Birmingham and its extensive rail and road links makes it easy to travel through the UK. Day trips to Stratford-upon-Avon (Shakespeare's birthplace and the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and the quaint towns of the Cotswolds are easy to arrange..
The 'United Kingdom' (UK) refers to the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. This is in contrast to another common name, 'Great Britain', which excludes Northern Ireland. The UK Exchange program offers exchange with universities in England and Scotland. Life and culture in the UK is different from that in the US. Experiencing this rich tradition is what the UK Exchanges are all about!
• The UK uses the British Pound as its currency.
• Communication from the UK is easy. Cell phones are relatively inexpensive, the internet is easily accessible, and post offices are plentiful.
• British food is unique! Try fish and chips, bangers 'n mash, steak pie, Indian curry,'neeps and tatties, haggis and more!
• The UK is a relatively safe environment. Police are helpful and visible. Emergency services are reliable. Pharmacies, called 'Chemists', are common and carry a wide variety of medicine and other essentials.
• The UK has a temperate climate, influenced by the ocean that surrounds it. It is never too hot in the summer nor too cold in the winter. Rain is common most of the year. Make sure to take plenty of warm clothes and waterproof shoes.
The University of Birmingham offers accommodation in student housing. Student housing in the UK tends to resemble the style of Mayflower Residence hall, with 4-6 students sharing a 'flat' with common kitchen and bathroom facilities and individual rooms, however variations to this style do occur. Meal structure varies according to each student's preference and residence.
In the past, UI students have stayed in Pritchatts Park Village and also in the Vale Village. Pritchatt's Park is a little closer to campus but does not have the newer flats like the Vale (Mason, e.g.). Most of the residences have single study-bedrooms with shared kitchen and bath. Meal plans are available on campus and also in the Vale.
Information about all of the housing options can be found on the University of Birmingham's accommodation website.
Students will make their own travel arrangement with support from the Study Abroad office and the International Student office at Birmingham.
Birmingham offers a good public transportation system. Buses, trains, and taxis are easily accessible, and the campus, and much of the city, is pedestrian friendly.
In general, travel within the United Kingdom is very well organized. Busses, and taxis (and subway systems in larger cities) make getting around town quick and easy. Trains and busses also interconnect every city in Britain, making inter-city travel easy, fairly cheap and as quick as possible. You are never far from interesting places such as London or Ireland. Ferries and bargain airlines also allow you to reach many destinations in mainland Europe very inexpensively.
UI students should be in junior or senior standing and have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (4.0 scale). Students should have a declared major and have a good understanding of requirements in their major.
The principle of reciprocal exchange is simple: students pay regular tuition and fees to their home university, and then trade places with a student overseas. All reciprocal exchanges in the UK operate on this principle. University of Iowa students pay their regular UI tuition and mandatory student fees, plus a $400 study abroad administrative fee, and then study at our partner university without further tuition payment.
Other costs include room and board (approx. $3100 per semester), airfare (approx. $1200), CISI travel insurance (approx. $120 per semester), visa ($160, for those staying longer than six months), books (approx. $50), and personal expenses (approx. $2500).
For current information on costs and payment schedules, contact the Study Abroad office.
Preliminary application forms are due early in the semester prior to studying abroad. Applications are then sent to the host university for review, where final acceptance decisions are made. Applicants are notified of their acceptance status by the host university by November for the spring session, and by late March or early April for the following fall/academic year.
Students should make an appointment with Cory Petersen, the program coordinator for the University of Birmingham exchange, to obtain application materials.
Please call the Study Abroad office (1111 University Capitol Centre) at 319-335-0353 to set up an appointment, or email Cory with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Final applications are due on March 20 for the fall 2014 and academic year 2014/2015.
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1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802
Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343