Russell Group Universities

The Russell Group is essentially the British equivalent of the American Ivy League and is made up of 24 prestigious, research-intensive universities. Set up in 1994, the Russell Group was named after the hotel where the idea of creating a lobbying group of leading universities, to liaise with governments and protect academic excellence, was first discussed. All the universities in the Group are public institutions and, between them, they generate 70 per cent of the world-leading research produced in the UK.

Which universities are in the Russell Group?

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • Durham University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York
  • University College Londom
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • London School of Economics & Political Science
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary, University of London
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton

The Russell Group and research

Research is at the heart of the Russell Group’s mission statements, and it is therefore not surprising that 68 per cent of total university research grants  and contract income, from government, charities and industry, is allocated to Russell Group universities.

Breaking these figures down still further, in recent years 78 percent of the income of UK Research Councils and 83 per cent of the funds collected by charities  were funnelled to the Russell Group. This means that money is not  in short supply and Russell Group universities can afford to hire leading experts, renowned lecturers and large numbers of staff. 

In addition, since Russell Group universities are considered the gold standard in the UK for academic work, and are well-organised and vociferous, the Group as a whole continuously lobbies for better conditions for students and researchers, and in general the government is receptive to their demands. 

From your, the student’s,  point of view, this has concrete benefits: state of the art technology, huge, well-stocked libraries, more supervisors to help you with your dissertation or thesis  and a wide range of placements, strong industry links and excellent networking opportunities., 

The Russell Group, its goals

As a collection of prestigious, high-quality research universities, the Russell Group’s aims are to have a social, economic and cultural impact on the world.

The 12 Russell Group universities with the lowest offer rates:

The following table sets out how likely you are to get an offer from universities in the Russell Group:

UniversityOffer Rate 
Oxford21. 8%
Cambridge29 %
LSE41.4 %
Imperial46.0 %
Edinburgh52.3 %
UCL58.6 %
Glasgow69 %
Manchester 70.1 %
KCL70.3 %
Leeds71.8 %
Bristol74.9 %
Warwick78.2 %

Remember, an offer is just that- it is not a guarantee of acceptance. The university spells out what grades you need to achieve at the end of your secondary school education, whether in a national diploma or the IB, if you want a place,  and makes you a conditional offer. In a minority of cases, universities send out unconditional offers – which means that you have a place, irrespective of the grades you get. 

The better the university, the higher the grades they will demand from their applicants, so Russell Group universities can be confident that if, for example, they ask for 3 As, or their national equivalent, many applicants will get these grades.

Which subjects do they specialise in?

The table below lists the subjects taught at individual universities  that rank among the top ten courses in the UK. This is not an exhaustive list,  since many of the universities rank highly in 20, 30 or even 40 subjects, but it does give you an indication of where to apply to, if you are interested in a specific course and unsure where to go.

UniversityHighly rated  courses 
CambridgeMedicine, Psychology, Law, Engineering, Economics +39 other subjects
OxfordLaw, Medicine, Linguists, Politics, Engineering +30
LSELaw, Politics, Sociology, Economics +6
Imperial CollegeAstronomy, Physics, Mechanical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Mathematics +9
DurhamAccounting, Marketing, Finance, Biological Sciences, Philosophy + 26
UCLEast European languages, Psychology, Ancient History, Anthropology ,Economics +18
WarwickPhysics, Astronomy, Chemistry, Linguistics +13
ExeterGeology, Marketing, Sports Science, Archaeology +19
BirminghamDentistry, Nursing, Social Work, Physiotherapy, Languages +19
BristolVeterinary Medicine, Aeronautical Engineering, Psychology, Sociology +10
Edinburgh Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Theology, Mathematics +13
LeedsFood science, Media Studies, Geology ,Music, Art and Design +12
ManchesterDrama, Dance, Nursing, English, French, German, Astronomy +15
SouthamptonGeology, Physiology, Music, Marketing, Mechanical Engineering +10 
GlasgowMedicine, Pharmacy, Music, Chemistry, Law, + 26
KCLDentistry, Classics and Ancient History, Biological Science +7
NottinghamSocial Policy, Creative Writing, East and South Asian Studies +9
YorkArchaeology, History of Art, Architecture and Design, Nursing, Social Work
NewcastleAgriculture and Forestry, Dentistry, Creative Writing +8

It can be daunting to read lists and tables, and stressful  to hesitate and worry about choices. If you would like to get advice, information and talk through your options with a specialist consultant, then pick up the phone and call us, here at Elab, or drop us an email. 

We have the experience, passion and knowledge to guide you and can also put you in touch with one of our mentors, who is currently studying at a university you hope to attend, so that you can get the inside track on the university you are considering, and ask all the questions you need answered , in order to make a balanced decision.

Get in touch and let us see which of the  Russell Group universities are ideal for you!

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