The University of Birmingham

WM-casestudy_Birmimgham_uniSector: Education

Location: Edgbaston, Birmingham

International Trade Adviser: Giuliana Pipola

DIT services used: Overseas Market Introduction Service, Gateway to Global Growth programme and Medium-Sized Business programme

Snapshot – impact of DIT support

  • collaboration on round table events and trade delegations
  • long term international partnerships developed


The University of Birmingham is the oldest red brick university in the UK, receiving its Royal Charter in 1900. The University is a founding member of the Russell Group, which represents 24 leading UK universities, known for excellence in research, teaching and learning. International students have been welcomed since its inception, with the first students arriving from India and China in 1900. Over 5000 staff and students now come from 150 countries worldwide, making up one of the largest international communities in the UK.

The business challenge

The international work of the University helps to make it a global leader in research and innovation. The building and sustaining of overseas partnerships is fundamental to the continued success of the University, with four key strategic territories identified: China, India, Brazil and the USA. Priorities for the University include finding ways to enhance joint research and encouraging alliances with overseas governments and institutions.

How DIT has helped

The University has a long history of working with UK Trade & Investment (DIT) and regularly meets with DIT contacts. Andréa Edwards, Director of International Development, explains that the University sees DIT as a “very valuable partner - organisations like DIT can really complement the work that we do”. The University and DIT regularly collaborate on events overseas, including through workshops in Brazil, with Edwards finding that “the media coverage and the contacts we’ve made by working with DIT has been the added value. It’s already shown a really good return for us, helping to position the University as a leading global institution among government, country and education partners”.

Using DIT’s Overseas Market Introduction Service has helped to gather market intelligence, identify countries to work with and keep the University updated on market developments. Operations are continually expanding overseas, with 200 undergraduate students now being taught in Singapore, strategic alliances formed with universities including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and offices opened in Brazil, India and Nigeria. Edwards says “I would encourage other education institutions to find out more about what DIT can offer you in particular markets and to work closely with DIT to deliver your international ambitions”.