With regards to Birmingham University - maybe this is just part of the web growing up.
The school in which I work now regularly recrutes pupils through our home grown website. As such the design of this "face to the world" is having a lot of time, effort and money invested to make it more slick and professional looking. It's make-over is being done by an outside company. Of course, our competitor schools are doing much the same. You have to run to stand still.
The down side is that the sort of pages and even the content that a beginner can cook up are no longer wanted as a part of the slick marketing product. It is good news for companies offering web-site design, though.
So, although I'm sure you won't, but if you do, get booted out of University, I think there is still a growing future in web site design - everyone wants something unique and cool that puts them ahead in this race.