Student Advice

What are the Russell Group Universities?

Ben Maples  · Aug 9th 2023  · 6 min

The Russell Group is a term that you may have heard your school teachers or friends mention when talking about universities.

University of Oxford

The Russell Group of Universities is an association of UK public-research universities. The group is seen by many as the most prestigious group of universities in the country, with many of the members being some of the best in the academic world.

61% of successful job candidates, with 60% of all doctorates in the UK handed out by the Russell Group. The group is named after the location of its first meeting, the Hotel Russell in Russell Square, London.

RG groupe

What is The Russell Group?

The Russell Group of Universities is a collection of 24 universities established in 1994. It is a collection of public research universities and was initially established to represent the wants and needs of its members to both government and Parliament.

It is one of, if not the most prestigious university group in the UK. The universities receive around 70% of all university research grants from government and charity organisations. These reputable institutions are highly competitive against each other and compete for the best student applicants. Known for their pioneering research, Russell Group unis have a more prolific output than typical universities.

List of Russell Group universities

The Russell Group consists of over twenty members and some change very regularly. The youngest Russell Group universities are only around 50 years old, with the oldest being established for closer to a thousand years.

The current Russell Group universities list is:

There are multiple Russell Group universities in London, and spread across England, with a scattering across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland too.

What is the purpose of Russell Group Universities?

The group, ultimately, wants to contribute to the cultural, economic and intellectual factors of the UK. The Russell Group was formed to create strength through union, using collaboration better to represent their interests in academic fields and politics. Thanks to their membership, Russell Group universities benefit from the advocacy, policies, intelligence, communications and strategy of the group and its fellow member institutions.

For years it has worked to change the status quo of British academia. The impact of the UK’s famed research, an increase in income for its members, and the aim to recruit the best staff and students for its institutes are some of the reasons why the group was formed. The group themselves state that they aim to provide ‘optimum conditions’ for students and researchers to bring about ‘social, economic and cultural impacts’.

What is so great about studying at a Russell Group university?

There are several good reasons to join a Russell Group university. Populated by world-leading academics, students who choose to study in a Russell Group university will have access to the best facilities available and be allowed to work with world-class experts. According to the Times Higher Education, the Russell Group is well funded; in 2015/16 the 19 universities with HEFCE research funding allocations in excess of £20 million were all group members.

The university is also well-loved by the students too. According to a 2015 National Student Survey, 88% of students at Russell Group universities were satisfied with their course, 90% of students found their course intellectually stimulating, and 89% of students were satisfied with the teaching at their institution.

Graduate employability is high both nationally and internationally. According to the Russell Group, graduates from one of their universities can expect to earn, on average, 10% more than graduates of other universities over a lifetime. In fact, in 2019, it was discovered that Russell Group alumni earn, on average £13,500 more per-year than those from non-Russell Group universities.

What is the Russell Group’s attitude towards AI?

AI (artificial intelligence) has become increasingly popular since 2022. Universities have had to find new ways to combat the use of generative AI software such as ChatCPT, where students have been creating essays, personal statements or even dissertations using external AI software.

The Russell Group of Universities have begun to take their own steps. The Russell Group does not allow students to use AI to create work or to complete tasks for them. However, the group has begun to accept AI as a means to enhance the student learning experience.

Lecturers are encouraged to incorporate AI in their structured learning. Lecturers are also advised to warn students about the potential dangers of AI in their studies, particularly if the student is using AI as a means to write essays, complete assignments or to write their dissertations.

What is the history of the Russell Group of Universities?

The Russell Group of Universities was discovered in 1994. The original 17 group members wanted to ensure that their interests were well represented by the government.

The group became a full, officially incorporated organisation in 2007. Since then, the group had added new universities along the way, though there have been no new changes to the group’s roster of universities since 2012 when the University of York, Queen Mary University of London, the University of Exter and Durham University all joined. Before that, there had only been one addition in the 2000s, which had been when Queen’s University Belfast joined in 2006.

Russell Groups ranked

Why is it called the Russell Group?

The Russell Group was named after the hotel the initial meetings took place in. A group of meetings held by academics and heads of universities, which all took place at the Russell Hotel (now known as the Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel) in Russell Square, London.

This is why it is called the Russell Group of Universities. After a series of informal get-togethers had taken place, they began to discuss a name and the title Russell Group was agreed upon.

Will going to a Russell Group university get me a graduate job?

Attendance at a specific university does not guarantee students a job. However, attendance at a Russell Group university will certainly help and make sure you stand out at application, especially on your student CV.

The Russell Group does also offer certain job schemes that may be helpful too. Traditionally, big-name recruiters or recruitment agencies tend to favour visiting Russell Group universities before visiting non-Russell Group universities at Student Fairs.

What other university groups are there?

The Russell Group of Universities is not the only university group out there. Some of the universities in the Russell Group may also belong to other groups.

These groups include:

Group name Members Purpose
Red Brick
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield

Universities that have an industrial background. Named after the brickwork that was common at the time of construction.

University Alliance
  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Coventry University
  • Kingston University
  • Leeds Beckett University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Teesside University
  • University of Brighton
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Hertfordshire
  • University of South Wales
  • University of the West of England (Bristol)

Regional or global universities that collaborate on research and education. Made up of technical and professional universities looking to drive innovation and growth in cities in the UK.

Million Plus
  • Abertay University
  • Bath Spa University
  • Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Edinburgh Napier University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • London Metropolitan University
  • London South Bank University
  • Middlesex University
  • Queen Margaret University
  • Robert Gordon University
  • Solent University
  • Staffordshire University
  • University of Bedfordshire
  • University of Bolton
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • University of Cumbria
  • University of East London
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of West London
  • University of Wolverhampton
  • University of the Highlands and Islands
  • University of the West of Scotland

Modern, not-for-profit universities. Newer universities who look to support a university system that will contribute more to global business initiatives. The group is also considered to be an information and public policy think tank.

  • Abertay University
  • Arts University Bournemouth
  • Bath Spa University
  • Bishop Grosseteste University Lincoln
  • Buckinghamshire New University
  • Falmouth University
  • Harper Adams University
  • Leeds College of Art
  • Leeds Trinity University
  • Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts
  • Newman University
  • Norwich University of the Arts
  • Plymouth College of Art
  • Ravensbourne College of Deisgn and Communication
  • Rose Bruford College
  • Royal Agricultural University
  • Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • Solent University
  • St. Mary’s University College Belfast
  • St. Mary’s University Twickenham
  • The Anglo-European College of Chiropractic
  • University College Birmingham
  • University College of Osteopathy
  • University for the Creative Arts
  • University of Chichester
  • University of Law
  • University of St. Mark & St. John
  • University of Suffolk
  • University of Winchester
  • University of Worcester
  • Writtle University College
  • York St. John University

A group that collaborates to advocate for smaller specialist universities.

The universities specialise in:

  • Agriculture
  • Art
  • Design
  • Drama
  • Music
  • Teacher training
Ancient Universities of Scotland
  • Aberdeen University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of St. Andrews

A collection of four universities which were founded between 1413 and 1583.

N8 Research Partnership
  • Durham University
  • Lancaster University
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of York

A collaboration between eight research-intensive universities in the north of England. Encourages collaboration between universities and businesses to encourage economic growth in the UK.

There is also Oxbridge. Oxbridge is a portmanteau of Oxford and Cambridge and an unofficial group comprised of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge.

Russell Group university list

What A-Levels do I need to attend a Russell Group university?

Russell Group universities typically tend to have higher university entry requirements. Generally, if you want to apply to a Russell Group university, you will need to have the highest grades you can get.

This does not mean Russell Group universities do not enter Clearing. They will occasionally struggle to fill out a course and may also struggle to find students who meet their requirements and may, therefore, lower them.

Do Russell Group universities accept BTECs or T Levels?

Yes, they do. However, not all members of the Russell Group do accept BTECs or T Levels.

Some courses specifically require other qualifications. The entry requirements will likely change every year, but even so, students may have to have studied a specific subject at A-Level before the university will consider their application for that course.

What makes the Russell Group of Universities different from other UK universities?

The Russell Group universities’ rankings are consistently impressive. The universities rank highly in both the UK and across the world. This means they attract bright minds, conducive to a positive learning experience.

Because of their stellar reputation, Russell Group universities can attract the best staff and students from all over the world. 39% of the group’s staff come from overseas, bringing their specialist knowledge and experience with them. It’s not just an attractive place to study, but also to work and research.

undergraduate Uni's

Get your questions answered by sending them an enquiry now.