To not understand why MN posters refer to top RG universities?

(110 Posts)
Dolcelatte Wed 09-Jul-14 14:08:03

Surely there is Oxbridge, RG and the rest - or is that oversimplifying the position?

I'm not sure it's MN posters. I didn't even know I'd been to one until MN.

Schooltrip Wed 09-Jul-14 14:11:38

Another person who didnt know they'd been to a RG uni until reading about RG on. MN.

CSIJanner Wed 09-Jul-14 14:12:55

Russell Group universities can be found here. Thy tend to have more research and private funding, that's all. I just see it a a group, because let's face, whilst they might be good for certain subjects, other unis may be top of the field for specialist/specific subjects.

EarthWindFire Wed 09-Jul-14 14:12:55

Me neither smile

SusannahReid Wed 09-Jul-14 14:14:48

Just realised I did too.

netty7070 Wed 09-Jul-14 14:15:06

Never heard of RG until I came on here. Seems a bit of a white elephant to me.

RobinHumphries Wed 09-Jul-14 14:15:12

I had to google RG, I'd heard of redbrick and knew I'd been to a redbrick but had never heard of it being referred to as RG

Well, RG isn't all the 'good' universities - some just didn't join up when RG started, even though they could have done, or because they are more recent universities.

I went to 2 universities, both of which come high up in league tables etc, neither of which was in the Russell Group.

One has since joined it - it didn't magically become 'better' by joining that group than it had been previously!

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 14:20:21

I think it's simply shorthand for "and not go to an ex poly"

Even if the ex-poly is excellent in some fields of study.

sparechange Wed 09-Jul-14 14:22:03

The only time I've seen references to RG universities is when a poster gets picked on up for their bad grammar and/or spelling, or need to get defensive about their attitude at work, and they leap to defend themselves by saying they went to a RG university so they can't possibly be wrong.
And occasionally when people give examples of their relative/neighbour/hairdresser whose academic outcomes weren't impacted by having a SAHP/being homeschooled/having divorced parents/not being allowed the class hamster, and the proof is they got into a RG university

Bunbaker Wed 09-Jul-14 14:22:08

Secondary schools aim to get as many pupils as they can to RG universities because it looks good on their prospectus.

CulturalBear Wed 09-Jul-14 14:31:39

Think of the Russell Group as like the Ivy League of colleges in America - it has become lazy shorthand for 'good university'.

There is a tariff correlation - ie RG universities tend to demand higher entry grades (and achieve them).

But in reality what is a 'good university' is not black and white - it can vary hugely depending on subject etc. Ie one university might be good for chemistry but not psychology, and vice versa.

There is a huge educational snobbery at play when, ultimately, many students are much better off at a non-RG university because they might get better pastoral care, teaching might be better, there is a specialism for their subject there, direct employment opportunities might be better.

It's not one-size fits all - the RG/non-RG debate totally misses the point and ends up fostering miserable students who have ended up somewhere they don't want to be based on the fact that mum and dad insisted they went to a 'proper' university.

MamaMary Wed 09-Jul-14 14:33:06

I think OP means why do people refer to TOP Russell Grant unis? And I agree - there is no such thing as a TOP RG - just RG.

MamaMary Wed 09-Jul-14 14:34:38

Looking at that list - there aren't actually that many RG universities. I went to one.

But I can think of excellent universities that aren't on that list - St Andrews, for example.

Well Mama yes but people are making the point that most people don't even bother referring to RG universities at all, never mind with a stupid tautology. FWIW I think the UCL and the LSE might well be 'top' RG universities. Certainly UCL is better for my subject (and my university is great for my subject).

PeppermintInfusion Wed 09-Jul-14 14:38:44

I think people just want a comparable term to Ivy League for their stealth boasts wink

As for top RGs, I presume they mean the more 'established' unis in the group eg Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Durham, the London unis etc which are red bricks/ancients rather than the newer ones like Southampton, Cardiff etc

It could be fun to go to a Russell Grant university wink

But yes, RG universities are all going to be 'prestigious' so if that's what parents/teachers/students are looking for then you don't have to rank some as 'better' than others in an overall kind of ranking.

But the whole idea that there is Oxbridge at the top of everyone's wishlist, then RG, then anywhere else, is a wrong way of looking at choices anyway. Oxbridge don't automatically churn out people who are better in their subject than those who went anywhere else, even for 'traditional' subjects.

TillyTellTale Wed 09-Jul-14 14:48:47

Why do people refer to top RG universities?

It's quite simple. They want people to infer that they/their child went to one of the really famous members of the Russell Group, like Oxford, Cambridge, or Imperial College London, as opposed to somewhere less well-known, such as Queen Mary University of London. (All those universities are members.)

MamaMary Wed 09-Jul-14 14:52:13

There is no league of RG universities. It's bad enough to brag about RG universities, let along fictional 'top' ones.

Maybe they mean 'Russell group and top of its field in [subject]'?

They do vary quite a bit. But then some of the non-Russell group ones are better than some of the RG for some subjects anyway.

I do think by now, there's inverse snobbery about it, so if some poor poster comes along asking about this term they've heard from the teachers at school, they always seem to get dozens of posts banging on about how everyone had no idea what the term meant (oh, except, you know, I went to one doncha know ...). It's a bit cringey.

callamia Wed 09-Jul-14 14:57:42

I also assume that some people don't know what makes for RG membership, and why there are plenty of research-focused universities who are not RG (eg the old 1994 group). It's all snobbery, and usually half-informed snobbery. Boring.

Pangaea Wed 09-Jul-14 14:59:50

The Sutton 13 is much more impressive than the RG!

MamaMary Wed 09-Jul-14 15:00:50

Certainly, the one I went to, the quality of teaching has declined and been relegated to a low priority since getting RG status. (all the focus is on research). It would not be a particularly good choice for students.

I read in the Sunday Times last week that students are less and less satisfied with universities because of poor teaching - very few contact hours and being palmed off with postgrads rather than established lectuers/ professors. Oxbridge is as guilty of this as anywhere.

Pangaea Wed 09-Jul-14 15:01:09

^that should have had a windy face for obvious Hyacinth-ing. wink

UncleT Wed 09-Jul-14 15:03:06

So people want to attach prestige to their education. No matter how misguided they might be in doing so or how they go about it, is it really so hard to understand? People get proud of their efforts and perhaps embark on a little brag. Really not something to get worked up about.

I love my ex-poly/new university. They're fantastic for my subject (and for several others), so supportive when I found out I was pregnant at the start of second year, and a happy community atmosphere.

I don't see what's wrong with them.

UncleT Wed 09-Jul-14 15:06:12

Also, a 'top' RG university does potentially exist as a concept - there are various ways of comparing universities who are members of the RG, irrespective of the fact that there is no official 'league table' of RG universities.

Another vote for the "didn't know I'd been RG'd until joining Mumsnet."

How do you quantify a "top RG" anyway? Surely that means Oxbridge? If not, what are the indicators? confused

I do like the idea of going to a Russell Grant university though grin

may mention the idea to him

higgle Wed 09-Jul-14 15:08:51

OP, Oxford and Cambridge are Russell Group unis, I suppose they would be the top ones ( didn't look if UCL was, presume so)

ElephantsNeverForgive Wed 09-Jul-14 15:12:51

Pumpkin,grin I'm in that group, although to be fair the RG didn't exist until the last year I was there.

I simply went to the only Uni I could get to and from on the train in time to go home for the weekend.

Then I found out their were no trains on winter Sundays and ended up taking my dear old car.

UncleT Wed 09-Jul-14 15:14:08

Indicators could be many, such as employment stats post graduation for example. I certainly don't claim to know all the answers, but there surely are various measures out there to compare institutions.

I too now also find that I unwittingly graduated from a RG university - it means sod all to me really, far more important is the degree I attained and what I have done with it since.

TillyTellTale Wed 09-Jul-14 15:18:44

Does it count as going to an RG university, if someone went there before 1994? Or in the case of Durham, Exeter, Queen Mary University of London and York, before 2012?

Because if so, I think I may be the first person in my family to study at a NON-RG university! grin grin grin

Schooltrip Wed 09-Jul-14 15:19:05

Just googled Sutton 13 and discovered my old uni is also on that list. grin

Never heard of it before.

MyFairyKing Wed 09-Jul-14 15:42:45

I'm always interested to note that on university threads when you get the bog standard stealth boasters that they are very quick to point out a.) the university and b.) the grade. Yet, little mention of securing employment, how active a participant they were within the university and their transferable skills.

In my cohort of friends/peers, everyone (except me who went later) went to university either straight from school or from university. They all went to very good universities and secured very good grades. Some of them struggled to secure employment and even those who did, some found it difficult to adapt to the working environment.

MamaMary Wed 09-Jul-14 15:44:51

should say, a published report said all that - can't remember its name.

angelos02 Wed 09-Jul-14 15:47:16

Odd that Newcastle University isn't on there. That is a top university for medical students/dentists.

TillyTellTale Wed 09-Jul-14 15:50:32

On what, angelos02? The Sutton 13 list?

Since being introduced to the concept (thanks Mumsnet!), I have since mugged up on RG-ness.

Trying to explain it to other equally blissfully unaware mortals however, has led to some confusion.

Not least because I can never remember what "RG" stands for and end up telling people I went to a "Russell Grant" university. confused

Just googled Sutton 13 and discovered my old uni is also on that list.

"Sutton 13" - Sounds more like victims a of miscarriage of justice rather than an elite group of universities. confused

Germgirl Wed 09-Jul-14 16:00:29

I want to go to a Russell Grant university. I imagine it'd be very sparkly.

TillyTellTale Wed 09-Jul-14 16:01:53

Right, I've just been googling, and the Sutton 13 list (which was updated and expanded to take in 30 universities in 2011) wasn't a table of "universities noted for the quality of their education" either!

The Sutton Trust is a charity that aims to increase social mobility and increase access to education for under-privileged children.

The Sutton Trust initially picked a list of 13 UK universities which were identified as "research-led universities" and "those ranked the highest in an average of published university league tables", for the purposes of monitoring social mobility in 2000. These universities were in alphabetical order:[1]

^University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, Durham University, University of Edinburgh, Imperial College London, London School of Economics, University of Nottingham, University of Oxford, University of St Andrews, University College London, University of Warwick, University of York

In 2011, the Trust updated their methodology to take in the 30 "most highly selective" British universities, which were "also the 30 most selective according to the Times University Guide" for the purpose of illustrating the relative number of students from poor backgrounds enrolled here against the rest of the institutions. These are, in alphabetical order:[2]

Source: wikipedia

noblegiraffe Wed 09-Jul-14 16:02:48

Bath Uni does exceptionally well in all the league tables, better than many RG universities yet it isn't RG.

I wouldn't look down on someone who went to Bath, it makes nonsense of the idea of RG as the only unis worth going to.

Schooltrip Wed 09-Jul-14 16:11:04

I think you have to look at the best uni for the subject you wish to study.

You could have an RG uni which has a crap reputation for maths for which case you'd be better going to the non RG uni.

I don't think people in real life give a stuff.

Despite going to two unis (sorry if that sounds smug) I hadn't heard of RG until I came on MN. I think that's pretty typical really, most people most of the time don't know or care.

As a rule of thumb, I think most people 'judge' both universities and courses by the method of 'Have I ever heard of that?' If it's the name of a city, it's older and more 'established', otherwise it is probably 'modern' and 'up and coming' and may have more 'modern' courses but maybe less prestigious.

If the course is called something people studied 30 or 40 years ago, it is 'traditional' and if you have to ask 'What's that then?' it's modern and possibly a bit suspect, until the student explains it to you.

doobledootch Wed 09-Jul-14 16:34:44

grin at Russell Grant university.

I've been to two Russell Group universities, the only place I'd probably mention this is mums net as it's the only place I've ever noticed anyone caring.

Downamongtherednecks Wed 09-Jul-14 16:48:48

Well, as soon as I found out I'd been to a "top" RG university, (UCL) I did stick it on my CV as you might as well boast about real stuff, rather than just .. er.. embellish the dull stuff! Might add Sutton 13, now I know about it, thanks MN! I applied for a couple of contracts abroad, and the employers DID know what RG was, and it did appear to be of interest.

FFSFFS Wed 09-Jul-14 16:51:59

3 of My DCs go to RG Uni's and I think the fact that their Uni's were traditionally 'good research' Uni's had a baring on them chosing to go to them. I hadn't heard of RG Uni's so it didn't come from me.
Perhaps, it has more to do with the RG Uni's marketing themselves more proactively. I don't think its a MN snobby thing.

Bunbaker Wed 09-Jul-14 16:58:36

"the only place I'd probably mention this is mums net as it's the only place I've ever noticed anyone caring."

DD's secondary school care. Their target is to get more A level students into RG universities because it makes them look good. Doesn't anyone on here with teenagers not know what their school thinks?

doobledootch Wed 09-Jul-14 17:02:57

I was being tongue in cheek attempting a stealth boast and I only have toddlers smile

Plus I'm old so the Russell Group was in it's infancy when I left Higher Education. It is just a bit of a self-selecting marketing strategy from what I can gather though.

mumminio Wed 09-Jul-14 17:05:24

Isn't it just to distinguish from all the newer less prestigious universities?

barrackobana Wed 09-Jul-14 17:06:47

[GRIN] at 'Sutton 13' sounds like a crime gang aka 'Birmingham 6'

barrackobana Wed 09-Jul-14 17:09:25

I think they're trying to infer that their dc got as close to Oxbridge as possible. In fact isn't there a kind of league withiN the Cambridge colleges? i know some college name get more attention than if you name some others, although they all escape me now. These threads always make me smile. Humans are weird when it comes to trying to impress.

KeepOnPloddingOn Wed 09-Jul-14 17:14:00

I went to an RG Uni. Just looked now, thanks to the above link ^ thanks!

I didn't realise until now. I never heard anyone talk about that at Uni. Why do people care? I barely discuss my degree - never mind to this degree for god sake.

SingSongSlummy Wed 09-Jul-14 17:18:19

In the old days, you just knew which the decent universities were, and so did the employers. Theses days it appears we need a Group or a 13 (and yes, my university features in both listed but my attendance there predates the concept).

KeepOnPloddingOn Wed 09-Jul-14 17:19:18

doobledutch exactly! If I randomly dropped in,
"Yah I have been to a RG Uni you know... " I would probably lose a lot of friends - and rightly so! Cringe.

MaidOfStars Wed 09-Jul-14 17:19:37

I went a Russell Group uni at the time the group was being established. And didn't we hear about it!!

However, my understanding is that the group was formed not to create an Ivy League situation but to create a lobby group for government/parliament. The hot potato at the time was tuition fees, and the RG was formed to support this option as a means of funding HE into the future. My uni was certainly very pro-tuition fee a and very anti-capped tuition fee.

I think the Ivy League status (if it exists) followed on. The best universities were the ones that could wield the most political power. Therefore, any grouping of those universities would naturally be termed 'elite' in some way.

When I see those great universities that aren't part of the Russell Group, I think it reflects their lack of institutional desire to engage in parliamentary lobbying, not their standard of education delivered. Following that, I've always viewed the 'I went to an RG university' boast as a measure of the person's political activity, not educational achievement, although that's obviously not the standard view these days.

Never heard of the Sutton 13, although I note my uni is there...wink

WynkenBlynkenandNod Wed 09-Jul-14 17:24:40

Bunbaker DD had a talk as part of GCSE options in year 9 where they talked about the Russell Group and facilitating subjects for A level, advising them to chose carefully for GCSE to make sure they don't limit choice later.

Friend's DD in year 12 at another local school and is hoping to go to University, first in to family. Al I am hearing, passed down from the school is Russell Group, Russell Group. I've been trying to point out that some well respected universities aren't part of it and places like Exeter only joined in 2012. I think it is a bit of a blunt instrument that some schools are using.

RevoltingPeasant Wed 09-Jul-14 17:27:50

The thing is, there is a huge amount of snobbery around this, much of it ignorant and misguided.

If you work as a top engineer (say) and you know that there are 3-4 departments in the country that really produce the goods - fair enough.

But I hate all the employers who come on saying 'Oh, I just chuck out the CVs with non-RG degrees on them.' I teach at an ex-poly and believe me, the best students are just as bright and high-achieving as when I taught at a 'top' RG institution.

It's often a discreet snobbery against poorer kids. Because these days, kids whose families have less money will often go to the 'local' university to be able to live at home or have a short commute. That will often be an ex-poly.

But the snobbishness...? It's ridiculous. I did my first two degrees at Oxford (not a boast, just a fact) and there were certain colleges that everyone looked down on. I mean, ffs. It's all just desperate self-validation.

We also used to chant 'I'd rather go to Durham than be a Tab [at Cambridge]' which is surely the ultimate wanky snobbishness grin Every time I hear someone talking about RG I get that chant in my head!

mumtosome61 Wed 09-Jul-14 17:28:46

When was it last updated? I'm surprised UEA isn't on there.

TillyTellTale Wed 09-Jul-14 18:10:49

mumtosome61 when was what updated? RG? It's not actually a list of 'good' unis. Just treated as if it is. There are going to be stunning university subject departments outside the Russell Group.

It's more of a private lobbying group for "research-led"/"research-intensive" universities. They last let some new universities into the fold in 2012.

Does UEA do much research? If it doesn't, it could be the best university in the country, but it presumably wouldn't/couldn't be eligible to join.

MaidOfStars Wed 09-Jul-14 18:14:25

When was it last updated? I'm surprised UEA isn't on there
I don't think you passively graduate to RG membership, no matter how good you are (although if you are good, you will be asked to join).

Oh no! Leicester University isn't a Russell Grant one! How can that be? They invented genetic fingerprinting after all. I'm cross. angry

missymayhemsmum Wed 09-Jul-14 18:29:27

I would only ever use the phrase 'Russell Group' to refer to my children's choice of university when speaking to someone who would use the term 'broken home' to refer to our family.

mumtosome61 Wed 09-Jul-14 18:50:32

UEA I think won a research excellency award or something recently, that's the only reason I was surprised; I don't go there grin but am from the area.

Interesting though - the idea of RG universities was never put to us as students. Then again, university in general wasn't grin

Anotheronebitthedust Wed 09-Jul-14 18:50:58

actually PeppermintInfusion Cardiff was established (or received its royal charter) in 1883, whereas Bristol was 1909. Which just goes to show how much the whole RG thing really doesn't matter. The average person on the street neither knows nor cares, and I would imagine the vast majority of employers only a have a very vague idea of which unis are 'good' or not, often based on their own (usually outdated) experiences, regional prejudice, etc, rather than the yearly rankings, which vary hugely from year to year, and subject to subject, anyway.

I also don't see how RG unis are really equivalent to the IVY league: RG is 24 unis out of a few hundred, Ivy league is the 8 "top" unis out of literally thousands in the US, so a much smaller percentage of "cream of the crop" students, if you are determined to adhere to such rulings.

LongTimeLurking Wed 09-Jul-14 18:58:54

The only places I have heard people mention the "Russell Group" is here on MN, the student room forum and the daily mail comments section. Usually in the form of "My son is attending a RG university" or "I got a 2.1 from a RG university".

Moronic snobbery as my guess is most don't even know what the Russell group is about. Some very, very good universities are not part of the RG and some of those in the RG are not all that hot in all areas.

RG doesn't even refer to all the 'old' universities as quite a few of those are not in the RG either.

There is also the 1994 group of smaller research based universities and most are very good.

And psssst.... some of the "ex polys" are actually rather good and very strong in particular subjects.

LongTimeLurking Wed 09-Jul-14 19:02:42

I should say the 1994 group WAS a group since they disbanded recently I think.

slug Wed 09-Jul-14 19:08:59

Rag universities need to be a certain size before they can join. Smaller universities, many of which are highly specialised can't join. I work for one of these. We regularly make international lists of top rated universities but are just too small to join the RG. Bizarrely when I told my parents in NZ, neither of whom went to university themselves, where I was working they were impressed. In the UK however, because we're not one of the big groups ( we were part of the 1994 group until it imploded last year) the name is rarely recognised. Go figure.

TheRealAmandaClarke Wed 09-Jul-14 19:09:56

So many ppl go to university now that many ppl like to use the distinction between RG universities and non RG universities to maintain their status above others. Previously it was possible to look down on ppl who graduated from a poly, now they're all called universities it's important to make someone who attended a non RG establishment realise that their degree was easier and is worth less than one from a RG Uni.
Must maintain the status quo don't you know.

lljkk Wed 09-Jul-14 19:13:06

RG isn't remotely like Ivy League. confused

Ivy League you need to have huge leadership potential to get in. That's what they're about. They aren't about top academics although that tends to go with high leadership potential.

I don't know exact percentages, but I would guess only about 0.5% of USA freshman are at Ivy League whereas probably more like 5-15% of UK 6th formers go to RG. Still an elite tier arguably, but not THAT elite.

Oxbridge and Only Oxbridge in UK is more reasonably comparable to Ivy League, but MNers say that Oxbridge is really for passionate-about-their-subject super narrowly academic types and that absolutely still isn't what Ivy League is about (unless it comes with huge leadership potential).

Delphiniumsblue Wed 09-Jul-14 19:17:11

All they need to do is research the best place for their course. One of my sons went to a RG because it offered what he wanted to do and it suited him. My other son went to an ex poly- it was one of the top places for his course, in fact it was the only place he wanted to go.

Shardlakelover Wed 09-Jul-14 20:44:21

So what are the top RG universities then? Apart from Oxbridge?

Shardlake, there's a link on the fourth post from the top.

LadyIsabellaWrotham Wed 09-Jul-14 21:17:25

I would never say IRL "I / my DC went to an RG uni donchaknow" obviously I'd say "I/they went to Cardiff/Aberystwyth/Sussex/wherever". On MN however, you occasionally want to describe someone as well educated and/or academically successful, for the purposes of a point you're making and you want to evidence that description. Clearly "she's got a degree" is of limited use for that purpose nowadays if it covers one third of the population, so you reach for a narrower description that marks them out. RG (or Sutton) is clumsy for this purpose, but it's normally quite effective, because there's no denying that regardless of whether those institutions are best for any specific subject, they are generally tough to get into.

MaidOfStars Wed 09-Jul-14 22:03:30

I wonder if Shardlakelover was looking for clarification on which of the Russell Group are the 'top' RG universities.

Apart from Oxford, Cambridge and then maybe Imperial, I wouldn't really like to start ranking the remainder (and I'm only ranking those three based on my general perception after a total of 20 years in HE institutes, not usign any detailed comparisons).

Offhand, I couldn't begin to argue whether York is better than Sheffield, which is better than Bristol, or whatever. All eight of my UCAS choices (gimmer) are in there, and apart from one of the 'top' ones wink, there was fuck all to choose between the rest of them.

doobledootch Wed 09-Jul-14 22:10:26

Thinking about this I'd be pretty annoyed if my children's school was steering my children towards a RG in order to achieve some form of quality criteria. Surely university choice should be based around what suits the child best.

tobysmum77 Wed 09-Jul-14 22:11:18

I went to two rg universities wink do I get extra points that?

Employers actually care though about whether or not you have the skills to do a job.

Ah, top RG universities. Sorry, shardlake. Um, I always reckoned Durham and Imperial, then maybe Bristol, but that was 30 years ago before RG was invented.

doobledootch Wed 09-Jul-14 23:01:30

These are the World University Rankings, if you select Europe then list by country you can see a list of UK rankings.

mumminio Wed 09-Jul-14 23:27:09

It does make a difference though. A 2.1 degree from a "good" university carried more standing than one from the other unis. Nothing wrong with the other Unis, but given a choice between hiring someone with a 2.2 from Oxbridge vs a 1st from the University of bums on seats, it's Oxbridge every time.

taxi4ballet Thu 10-Jul-14 00:08:02

Fancy that.

All these years I've had to suffer people rubbing my nose in the fact that they went to university and I didn't. (Dad's death at an inconvenient moment put paid to that, never go round to it since, can't be bothered).

Not one of these raging snobs has ever mentioned RG - 'top' or otherwise. Incredible.

TheRealAmandaClarke Thu 10-Jul-14 07:52:25

Keep the peasants in their place.

weatherall Thu 10-Jul-14 08:01:33

It's quite an English thing too.

In Scotland we have the ancients- St. Andrews, Edinburgh, glasgow, Aberdeen, the modern 60s ones and the ex polys.

There is quite a strong class divide between who goes where.

Now that there are fees down south I don't imagine many Scottish DCs consider going there anymore, even Oxbridge.

TiggyD Thu 10-Jul-14 08:05:07

Assumed RG meant Reading.

BeckAndCall Thu 10-Jul-14 08:19:29

You can't answer the question o'whats a top university' unless you expand the question to 'top for what?'

In world rankings - only Oxford, Cambridge and imperial make the top 20. UCL and. LSE come next.

For research rankings - measured in a massive national exercise every 5 or 7 years - you can get a ranked list both overall and for each subject group. So you can be top for one subject but in the middle for others whilst being either near the top of the overall list or near the bottom of the overall list.

Or you can be top for graduate destinations - ie have the highest percentage of students in employment after 6 months or 18 months.

Or you can be top for educating the highest number or best prepared vocational graduates - so health professionals and teachers.

You just can't answer the question without more specific criteria.

But in general, the RG unis which appear on most of the lists for most aspects near the top of most of them are the usual suspects - Oxford, Cambridge, imperial, UCL, LSE, Edinburgh, Durham, Bristol. Noting that Durham didn't even join the RG until 2012 so the grouping really doesn't imply much.

2rebecca Thu 10-Jul-14 09:21:32

RG is fairly meaningless if doing an engineering degree, especially in Scotland as the technical universities like Strathclyde and Heriot Watt aren't there. It seems to have an English bias as old Scottish unis like St Andrews and Aberdeen are also not included.
My son's just finished school in Scotland and RG/nonRG didn't come it to it. He and his friends started with the course they wanted to do and then just looked at course content of the unis/ unistats/ league tables/ what they thought on open days/ which courses played to their strengths and interests/ where they fancied living for 4-5 years.
My husband and I did vocational courses with near 100% employment at non RG unis.
To me it seems to be some unis getting together and trying to bring back the uni/ poly divide but under a different name. When you look at the blurb on their site they do seem to aim to just support each other and exclude non-RG unis (and go on lots of committees)

SaveTheMockingBird Thu 10-Jul-14 09:45:53

Another one that hadn't heard of the term RG, but just found out that infact I went to a "top" RG uni!

lljkk Thu 10-Jul-14 09:50:41

Does anyone know with those university rankings if they take into account the research funding? So what I'd like to see is a league table for ratio of
output/research funding. It's not fair to compare Caltech to UCL if Caltech receives (for instance) 10x as much funding, then Caltech should produce 10x as much cited research, I would have thought. But do they?

lljkk Thu 10-Jul-14 09:55:33

ps, since it was mentioned twice... I think UEA research funding is only about £26million/annum. I looked into this last yr but numbers are only off top of my head. The smallest RG Uni in terms of funding is Exeter, about £45kmillion off top of my head. One of the Oxbridge Unis gets most at maybe £180-200million/yr.

Loughborough is another one that arguably belongs in RG club.

My Uni's official email sig (we are all supposed to use) is a bragfest of statistics about things like our research ratings & student satisfaction. Ridiculous advertising our insecurities like that, I bet Oxbridge academics don't have to.

Georgina1975 Thu 10-Jul-14 09:58:35

I find this really odd and I work at one!

I think some RG universities have become a little complacent tbh, as they do not have to try hard to attract students. I would be most interested in the National Student Survey (NSS) as a student.

Upthread a bit but Queen Mary in London is Russell Group? Are we sure? I got in there with a very sorry clutch of A Levels.

I went to a Russell group university preens I feel like I've just won university challenge or something.

callamia Thu 10-Jul-14 12:26:27

QM is pretty big and left 1994 to join RG recently.

Their entry requirements for the equivalent degree programme to ours (we were 1994 too) are below ours. We're too small and specialist to be RG. RG - it doesn't mean what most people seem to think it does...

autumnmum Thu 10-Jul-14 13:25:04

I started reading this thread because I had no idea what an RG university was - turns out I got my degree from one and my masters from another. Should I be boasting about this? smile

RG seem to be a consortium of businesses seeking (successfully) to position themselves as a premium brand. There seems to be little evidence as to how this benefits undergraduates.

Honsandrevels Thu 10-Jul-14 13:42:42

The Guardian league table rank uk universities by various criteria including student satisfaction and percentage with a career after graduation. There is at least one non RG university in the top ten.

Ketchuphidestheburntbits Thu 10-Jul-14 13:44:53

I've only just realised that my DC attends a RG university. blush

Things you learn on Mumsnet!

2rebecca Thu 10-Jul-14 15:10:09

The guardian rankings for some subjects are just strange, their top ranked Scottish uni for mechanical engineering is Dundee and it doesn't even offer an MEng just a BEng.
I think that as long as league tables continue to put you higher up the league table if you are hard to get into they will be a bit dubious anyway.
A physics professor friend of mine got his uni higher up the league table just by upping their entry requirements, the harder you seem to be to get in to the more people want to try and get there and you appear to be more prestigious. Some of it is a confidence trick.

sashh Thu 10-Jul-14 15:42:35

Oh no! Leicester University isn't a Russell Grant one! How can that be? They invented genetic fingerprinting after all. I'm cross.

Because it's not big enough, it was in the 1994 group.

A physics professor friend of mine got his uni higher up the league table just by upping their entry requirements, the harder you seem to be to get in to the more people want to try and get there and you appear to be more prestigious.

And because some of the league tables, certainly the times, includes A Level grades of freshers, so if you have a lot of mature or non typical students you don't stand a chance.

So you will never see the likes of RADA in the league tables, but if you want to be an actor you would be better off there.

callamia Thu 10-Jul-14 15:55:48

The upping the entry requirements is funny. I can think of two places that did that, and have quietly dropped them again after they couldn't fill the course.

titchy Thu 10-Jul-14 16:05:11

Leicester, UEA, queen Mary's and many other smaller institutions were part of the now defunct 94 group. When this group went tits-up QM and others PAID to join the Russell grant group. UEA, Leicester et al didn't.

2rebecca Thu 10-Jul-14 16:57:41

So the unis in the russell group have to pay to be in there, they also have to spend money sending people to the various committees the group produces and they then campaign to be given more money (because they are spending more money on keeping the whole Russell Group organisation going.). I remember in sociology being taught that "the purpose of an organisation is to perpetuate itself and preserve the structure of the organisation" (or something similar) . Do we blame the Russell group for tuition fees in England? I can now see why many Scottish unis with no tuition fees aren't as fussed about joining in.

MyFairyKing Thu 10-Jul-14 17:39:25

The best part of this thread is people calling them Russell Grant universities. grin

ChelsyHandy Thu 10-Jul-14 17:48:31

Apparently I've been to one. Feeling underwhelmed. Apparently there is also one to be found in every major city in the UK. So why do posters on here keep mentioning it then?

I'm impressed if someone went to Oxbridge as an undergraduate (not as a postgraduate, in some subjects its a given right of perpetual studenthood).

It really sounds a bit pretentious and cringeworthy. What other university would you go to? Maybe I'd mention the name of the university I went to if relevant.

Maybe dependent on the subject.

TillyTellTale Thu 10-Jul-14 22:17:02

Do we blame the Russell group for tuition fees in England?

Funny you should say that. The lobby that is the RG has a rather strong stance for tuition fees. Apparently 9000 a year is too low. According to them.

FFSFFS Thu 10-Jul-14 23:29:36

I've watched the league tables on medicine courses for the last few years and it's crazy how the universities can go up and down the rankings. It shows how fickle the league table can be.
I still think they are worth looking at but only as a small part of the bigger picture IYSWIM

fluffymouse Thu 10-Jul-14 23:36:29

People refer to top RG universities as being RG in itself means rather little.

LineRunner Thu 10-Jul-14 23:38:40

Only on MN do I see people refer to 'top' anything.

Top grammar schools. Top RG universities (for undergraduate courses ffs). Top blue chip companies.

It's trying too hard with a cherry ... on top.

Delphiniumsblue Fri 11-Jul-14 07:06:46

MN is a totally different world I find- just as well it would be hard going if it reflected RL!
Let your DC do the research and find the best university for them. It may well not be in RG.

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