University sports students set to study at major Commonwealth Games venue

Published: 17th Mar 2023

Students from Birmingham City University will study sports and exercise-related courses at the Alexander Stadium from January 2024

The eyes of the world were on the iconic stadium last summer when it hosted key events as part of the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games - including the opening and closing ceremonies.

And the stadium will now play host to an altogether different type of sporting success as BCU’s sports students will begin studying at the stadium in Perry Barr from January 2024. Work is currently underway to adapt the stadium’s East and West stands to house a range of specialist equipment and teaching facilities which will eventually be the base for up to 1,200 BCU students.

Leaders from Birmingham City University and Birmingham City Council met today to publicly sign the lease for the latest major milestone in the Alexander Stadium’s story, which will see BCU become one of the venue’s tenants alongside organisations including UK Athletics and the famous athletics club Birchfield Harriers.

Professor Philip Plowden, Vice-Chancellor at Birmingham City University, said: “The Alexander Stadium was front-and-centre of the hugely successful Commonwealth Games, which showcased our great city to a global audience. That’s why we’re delighted that our students will soon be calling the venue home.

“As the University for Birmingham, it is our mission to transform the lives of our students, the city and wider society. The Alexander Stadium is the perfect example of this; not only will our sports students benefit from world-class facilities based at an internationally-renowned sporting venue, but we’re also playing our part in securing the legacy of the Commonwealth Games for both the city and future generations.

“It is also fitting to be maintaining our links with Perry Barr, once home to BCU’s main campus for many years until our move to the city’s Eastside. We are looking forward to reconnecting and forging new connections in the area to bring benefits not only to our students but the wider community.”

Councillor Jayne Francis, Cabinet Member for Digital, Culture, Heritage and Tourism at Birmingham City Council, added: “We’re thrilled BCU are returning to their spiritual home of Perry Barr.

“From day one of the project to renovate the stadium, we have been clear its use and purpose had to be about much more than the 11 days of the Commonwealth Games – it had to become one of the focal points of the £700 million regeneration of this area of the city.

“We want the stadium complex to become a thriving hub of health, wellbeing, community and educational activity as well as a world-class sporting venue. Having fantastic partners on board, like BCU, will help ensure this.”

Training the athletes and sports professionals of the future

The Alexander Stadium will house a comprehensive collection of cutting-edge equipment – including biomechanics labs, environmental chambers and anti-gravity treadmills – providing the best possible environment for elite sports and exercise teaching and learning.

Birmingham City University’s teaching space at the Stadium will provide the perfect setting for a new generation of sports therapists, sports scientists, nutritionists, sports coaches, and other sports professionals

Professor Ian Blair, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University and Executive Dean of its Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, said: “Building on our strong foundations as a leading provider of sports education, our move to the Alexander Stadium will provide enhanced opportunities to deliver innovative teaching and learning to ensure our students are ready to achieve their potential and meet the needs of our city, region, and country.

“Our £5 million investment in the areas of the stadium we are utilising will offer the opportunity to create new, innovative and bespoke learning and teaching spaces, which will ensure the venue remains a key part of the sporting fabric of the city for years to come.”

The University originally launched its sports and exercise courses in 2017. Since then, the courses have proven hugely popular with students preparing for careers in the sporting industries.

BCU’s history in the Perry Barr area dates back to the opening of North Birmingham Technical College in 1966, later incorporated into Birmingham Polytechnic in 1971.

Background notes

About Birmingham City University

With more than 31,000 students from around 100 countries, Birmingham City University is a large and diverse place to study, located in the heart of the city. The University's mission is to transform the lives of its students by offering a wide range of contemporary, flexible courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, with practice-based learning and international opportunities built into every stage.

About the Alexander Stadium

  • The Alexander Stadium underwent a £72 million transformation ahead of the Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2022.
  • UK Athletics are also increasing their presence the Stadium – housing a new Performance and Innovation Centre at the site.
  • Students will still have access to all facilities across campuses at City South and City Centre including library, SU and social and study spaces.
  • Our own sports facilities including pitches at Moor Lane and the Doug Ellis Sports Centre are in close proximity to the Stadium. 
  • BCU will also have some access to the track and other facilities at certain points in the year.
  • Students whose courses are taught at the Stadium will split their time roughly equally between the Stadium and City South, with practical sessions at the Stadium and theory at Seacole.

Birmingham City University and the 2022 Commonwealth Games

BCU’s staff, students and graduates played key roles in the Games last summer, with highlights including:

  • Two students and a recent graduate from BCU’s School of Jewellery designed the official medals for winning athletes. This was the first time in the history of the Commonwealth Games that medals have been designed by students.
  • Talented BCU alumni, including chart-topping band Duran Duran and skilled opera singer Samantha Oxborough, took to the stage at the Commonwealth Games Opening and Closing ceremonies.
  • BCU Course Leader in Sports Therapy Peter Thain came away from the Commonwealth Games with gold and silver medals for his role court side as Team England’s Men’s and Women’s Basketball 3x3 team's Sports Therapist.
  • Talented BCU costume design students created outfits for the opening show of the Birmingham 2022 Festival, Wondrous Stories, which marked the start of festivities revolving around the Games.