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What is the Russell Group?

The Russell Group is a catch-all term for a group of unis with a shared focus on research and a reputation for academic achievement. A careers adviser explains more...

As you’ll see, the group is packed with the traditional ‘red bricks’ usually spotted near the top of the league tables.

What the Russell Group says:

Our students work with world-class experts, use first-rate libraries and facilities, are part of a highly motivated and talented peer group and often engage with cutting-edge research.

Graduate recruiters rank ten Russell Group universities in the top 30 universities worldwide, and Russell Group graduates typically receive a 10% salary ‘top-up’ over others. Why? Because the combination of teaching and research excellence creates the ideal learning environment which produces ‘work-ready’ graduates.

Providing a world-class student experience is a top priority for us and our universities have higher than average student satisfaction and the lower than average drop-out rates.

Wendy Piatt | Director General Of The Russell Group

What a careers adviser says:

By banding together, Russell Group universities are able to put more funding, contracts, grants and awards their way. Why does that matter to you? Because success breeds success.

With more money to invest in research and other projects, the knock-on effect is that these unis are better equipped to attract the top staff and students, which then further cements their academic prestige.

Gill Sharp (Careers Adviser),

Who’s 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 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
  • University College London
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

The Russell Group isn’t the only university group out there – University Alliance is a group of 'business engaged' universities, while Million+ is a public policy think tank made up of universities. Some universities choose not to be part of any group – and this shouldn’t be viewed negatively.

Is the Russell Group the best?

When it comes to getting a job, factors such as your grades, experience and interview will be the real clinchers. But a top class honours degree from a Russell Group university can give job applications a certain sparkle – and may open up some extra doors into competitive career sectors.

Russell Group universities offer a number of useful schemes that can make you ‘work ready’ when you come to apply for a job.  For example, the University of Leeds offers the ‘Leeds for Life scheme’ for all students. On this scheme you’re given a personal tutor who will be your career mentor, helping you identify and develop the skills you’ll need in work.  The scheme offers awards to students who show enthusiasm to enhance their skills and knowledge, and there are also opportunities for funding to learn a language abroad.

Some big name recruiters may concentrate on visiting Russell Group universities when running events or exhibiting at careers fairs, giving these students the edge in terms of tips and tactics. But of course, you can hunt out opportunities whatever uni you go to – just look online for grad vacancies.

Will it make much difference day-to-day?

As an undergraduate, being at a Russell Group uni won’t have too much direct impact on your studies in itself. You may get the opportunity to be involved in academic research at this level when you do a final year research project, or if you are selected to work on a vacation project.  Where you will benefit is by having tutors working at the cutting edge of research and passing on their expertise.

If you want to go on to take a Masters or PhD, studying at a Russell Group university can work in your favour, particularly if your application demonstrates knowledge of some of the latest departmental research.

Don’t get too hung up on names and rankings: yes, they carry a certain weight, but the main thing is choosing a course and university that best suits you.


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