Personal safety

Whether this is your first time living independently or you’ve been in Birmingham for a while, we want to make sure you can safely enjoy your experience here at the University of Birmingham.

Personal safety

Be aware of your surroundings

If you’re listening to music on headphones, make sure you can still hear what’s happening around you. Avoid walking and staring at your phone. This is especially important if you’re walking alone, or in the dark.

Attend a personal safety workshop

Security Services and West Midlands Police offer workshops to students to help you feel safe and know what to do. These are open to all students.

  • Practical self-defence tips and tactics, taught by the Campus Police Officer
  • Who to contact for help and support in different situations
  • Technology and apps to help keep you and your property safe

To find out about the next workshop, or organise a group workshop for a team or society you belong to, email ubsafe@contacts.bham.ac.uk.

Pick up a freebie

Security Services will provide you with free items to help you protect yourself from crime, from personal attack alarms (which emit a loud noise) to bells which will ring if your bag is moved, and contactless card defenders. You can collect these during an appointment at the UBSafe Hub or from any of staffed accommodation reception areas. They’ll also offer you free advice, and it’s a safe, confidential space to ask questions or share concerns.

Use the Hollie Guard app with friends

This personal safety app is activated by a simple shake or tap, and immediately sends your GPS location and audio/video to your designated contact(s). You can either raise the alarm silently, or set off a loud alarm with flashing lights to attract attention. Hopefully you’ll never need it, but you might find this reassuring when you’re coming home alone in the dark.

Find out more about the Hollie Guard app

Online safety

Stay safe on social media

  • Check your privacy settings: it’s up to you who sees your photos, updates and profile information
  • Think before you add friends or contacts: do you know them? Do you want to give them access to your photos etc?
  • Avoid sharing personal information in public, like your phone number or address
  • Think before you join in a meme, eg ‘your celebrity name is your first pet’s name and your mother’s maiden name’: these are often your bank security questions too
  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware software and keep it updated
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly
  • Only shop from secure websites: these will show a locked padlock or unbroken key in your browser, and the URL will begin with https://
  • Never give your PIN or passwords over the phone: your bank will not ask for these

Stay safe online

Think before you click a link in an email: do you know and trust the sender? Fake ‘phishing’ emails can be very convincing.

Travel safety

Taxis

  • Ignore anyone asking if you want a taxi – this is illegal
  • Private-hire taxis (including Uber, Ola etc) can only legally pick you up if you’ve booked, so don’t get into one if it offers you a ride without booking
  • Make sure the car and registration number matches the description the taxi company send you

Public transport

  • Most buses and all trains stop running after a certain time at night. Plan ahead and make sure you know the time of the last journey that day
  • If you have a paper ticket, keep it separate from your phone and wallet: that way, you don’t have to show your valuables to show your ticket
  • If you feel vulnerable on a bus, sit close to the driver. On a train, avoid empty carriages. Remember you can always move to a different seat or part of the train if you feel uncomfortable

International travel

The safety and security of all students and staff is of paramount importance to the University. International travel can be a risk to personal safety for a variety of reasons, including global events, geographical risk factors and cultural differences.

View the University’s International Travel Security and Safety Guidance

Nights out

Socialising with friends is often an important part of the student experience. To help you enjoy yourself and still come home safely from a night out, follow these simple suggestions:

  • Have a plan for getting home, including if your phone runs out of charge
  • If possible, go out and come back in a group
  • Avoid walking home alone in secluded areas: it’s safer to get a taxi
  • If you drink alcohol, be aware of how many units you’re drinking: try alternating alcoholic drinks with water

Find out how many units of alcohol it is safe to drink in a week

The University does not condone the misuse of alcohol or illegal drugs. However, supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of students and staff is always our priority. If you think you or a friend might have a problem with drugs or alcohol, there’s advice and support available.

View the University’s advice and support for drug and alcohol misuse

International students

Living in a different country while you study is a fantastic opportunity. Use this advice to make sure you can safely make the most of this experience.

Helpful resources

The University of Birmingham offers lots of support for international students, both before you arrive and while you’re here.

Find out more about University support for international students

The Guild of Students runs the Global Buddies scheme to help you settle in after you arrive.

Find out about Global Buddies

These websites will give you information about visas, settling into life in the UK, and how to keep safe.

View the British Council’s advice on moving to the UK

Read advice from the UK Council for International Student Affairs

Personal safety advice

Many things about UK culture will be different from your home country. That means it can be hard to know what’s is ‘normal’ here. These tips should help.

  • Stop and look both ways before crossing the road – and use a pedestrian crossing if you can
  • You are not expected to give money to anyone, even if they ask – you can just keep walking if someone asks you for money
  • Keep your phone in your pocket or bag when you’re out walking
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash
  • Ask officials to show their identification (eg a ticket inspector on a bus, maintenance staff/plumber coming to fix the bathroom)
  • Never share your personal or bank details over the phone
  • If you receive a strange phone call, end the call immediately

Unfortunately, some criminals may target you as an international student. They may pretend to be from an official organisation (like the Home Office, or the Chinese Embassy). Ask to see their official identification, and don’t give them money.

What to do if you are a victim of crime

The University of Birmingham is a low-crime campus, and we hope you have a safe and happy time here. If you are a victim of crime, it’s important to report it to Security Services and to the West Midlands Police. It will ensure you get access to the proper support. It also helps us to keep this community safer for everyone.

To report a non-emergency crime, eg a theft

Report it to Security Services on 0121 414 3000. You should also report it to the police: call 101, or report online.

Report a theft or burglary to the police online

To get immediate help in an emergency

Call Security Services on 0121 414 4444, and call police on 999.

Find out more about theft and crime prevention

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