Whatare the Russell Group?

(40 Posts)
Consils Wed 15-May-13 17:32:13

I had thought there were only eight bur according to google there are 24.

senua Wed 15-May-13 18:28:01

I don't know where you got eight from - it was founded with 17 members! You are correct that membership currently stands at 24.

creamteas Wed 15-May-13 18:28:09

They are a self-appointed lobby group.

During a previous recession when there were likely to be cuts in university research budgets, a group of VCs started from the bigger research universities started meeting to work out a strategy to challenge the then government. They met in the Russel Hotel (hence the name) and later made it into a formal organisation.

Being an RG member says very little about the quality of research or teaching.

ajandjjmum Wed 15-May-13 18:29:45

A group of respected universities?

Talkinpeace Wed 15-May-13 19:19:00
inkyfingers Wed 15-May-13 21:16:15

They are seen as the top tier of universities by many, when there are over 100 unis in the UK.

PastSellByDate Thu 16-May-13 04:56:50

Hi Consils:

In general people tend to talk about 'the bridges' (Oxford/ Cambridge) and then The Russell Group Universities (so largely older Universities founded in the 19th century - although technically they're all in the group - link to Russell group here: www.russellgroup.ac.uk/).

There also are the 1994 group - which is a group of recently established Universities which also are research intensive: link for information about them here: www.1994group.co.uk/

I suppose what these groups are trying to do is establish that they are research intensive (i.e. the academics are well respected nationally or internationally and producing high quality research) and that the churn out well qualified graduates. Think along the lines of the 'ivy league' in the US - a loosely identified group of 'better and certainly well established universities' including places like Princeton, Yale & Harvard.

So if this is a question from the point of view of helping your DC work out where to apply to University - then although it is a good indicator of quality of the institution, you should also explore things like the times higher education rankings of Universities and their degree programmes. (link here: www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/world-university-rankings/). The guardian and other newspapers do a series of University profiles and it is always worth typing unofficial student guide to.... into Google to get a more unvarnished picture of what student life there may be like.

So for example - there are only so many places that offer Veterinary courses or medicine. If you know the type of medicine you want to go into or you know that you want to keep your options open so want a big department - it can help when deciding where to apply. UCAS Course Search is really worth exploring seriously before sending off your UCAS form: www.ucas.ac.uk/students/coursesearch/.


Consils Thu 16-May-13 09:43:24

Thank you.

slug Thu 16-May-13 11:02:40

Umm, the 1994 group of universities are not necessarily recently established (outs self as working in one of them) A fair percentage are or were part of the University of London. They are, however, generally smaller specialist institutions.

lljkk Thu 16-May-13 17:44:11

A social climber's dream and if you believe MNers a degree from anywhere else is utter rubbish.

most of them used to be called redbrick.

Copthallresident Thu 16-May-13 18:02:26

Not to mention slug that some of the 1994 group, including Durham, recently defected to the Russell Group because their gang has managed to acquire a more widely known brand image for quality, even if those perceptions are not as creamteas points out rooted in any reality in terms of there actually being any criteria relating to quality that qualify an institution for membership. Of course a certain 1994 institution by far outranks any RG uni in terms of certain specialist studies wink

Past is absolutely right, choose a university by how it ranks in terms of what is important to you. There are subject tables that will give you information about the rankings for your subject, according to various mutations of student satisfaction, employment statistics, research ranking etc but how important each of these factors is will vary from individual to individual and you will also want to take into account the structure of the course, the environment, facilities etc.

PastSellByDate Fri 17-May-13 12:55:14

at a redbrick Russell Group myself Slug, but happily did PhD research at a 1994 Group institution and it was absolutely the right fit for what I wanted to do!

As I said it really depends on the degree you wish to do.

A bridge, membership to Russel or 1994 group does at least assure nervous parents that it's a well respected research intensive institution - which what I was trying to convey (although possibly badly worded...).

...but do some homework on the degree course & what it's like to be a student there. Better yet go to an Open Day!


MsAverage Sat 18-May-13 08:35:12

I would not compare the Russell Group with the Ivy League because RG's intake is a quarter of all the country's undergrads. This does not sound elitist by any stretch of the imagination. IL is more like Oxbridge, considering the US has a population 5 times larger than in the UK.

lljkk Sat 18-May-13 09:17:26

RG is much more like higher grade US state universities (govt. funded). Cal Berkeley, Cornell, UCSD, AUT, etc.

Talkinpeace Sat 18-May-13 12:46:06

Cornell is private and Ivy League.

RG includes "ivy League" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivy_League
but of course the Ivy Leage was a sporting thing so even less relevant to academic prowess

lljkk Sat 18-May-13 15:51:33

okay, oops on Cornell (can tell I'm not an East coaster or Ivy League material for that matter, I went to Berkeley smile ); but NO WAY is RG comparable to US Ivy League.

I'm not sure what you mean about sport; undergrad admission to Ivy League is about leadership potential along with moderate brains. Leadership first and foremost.

Talkinpeace Sat 18-May-13 19:01:36

Look up the history of the Ivy League : its ALL about sport!

Places like Stanford are missed out purely by geography not academe

MsAverage Sat 18-May-13 23:45:25

Well, you can say then that Oxbridge is ALL about rowing.

gallicgirl Sat 18-May-13 23:54:59

A recruiter friend recently told me that some companies will only consider applicants from Russell Group unis.
It's disappointing to think that perfectly good applicants might be overlooked.

It would be interesting to see employment stats from graduates, especially given how much fees are now.

lljkk Sun 19-May-13 12:12:10

those stats exist, Gallic, I am off to find good links.

lljkk Sun 19-May-13 12:14:09
lljkk Sun 19-May-13 12:18:41
lljkk Sun 19-May-13 12:34:10

2010 postgrad employment data, 163 institutions, Oxbridge not listed (?!).
The other 22 RG Unis are at places (descending order):

14, 18, 20, 29, 36, 39, 44, 46, 47, 48, 49, 52, 55, 56, 61, 70, 71, 74, 81, 86, 100, 106

Quite respectable, as a group definitely well better than average.

lljkk Sun 19-May-13 12:41:23
Talkinpeace Sun 19-May-13 13:14:59

thing is that my degree bears no relation to what I do now
and I faffed for years finding my career
not the fault of the uni though

lljkk Sun 19-May-13 13:45:14

Telegraph (think these are 2012 data?) manages to get 3 RG Unis in top 10. Along with an expoly or 2.

Still, I think best bet is on the actual degree subject, not exactly where the degree is conferred.

gallicgirl Sun 19-May-13 22:04:54

I'm sure the subject is paramount and there's so many variables to take into account such as number of local or part time students and local job markets and university specialisms.
My friend recruits high-flyers, by the way so that attitude probably isn't prevalent amongst most employers.

ElizaDoLots Thu 23-May-13 11:05:21

I agree - large employers tend to focus their recruitment drives on RG universities (Investment banking seem to focus on as few as 5 universities).

creamteas Thu 23-May-13 18:53:21

large employers tend to focus their recruitment drives on RG universities

Lots of people claim this, but I have never seen a single bit of evidence to back it up. Whilst there might be the odd one or two, it is simply not a widespread practice.

I have worked at both RG and non-RG universities, and although there were slight differences in which employers recruited, this had nothing to do with the type of university and was related to the subjects taught (eg the one who taught translation, got translation companies).

ElizaDoLots Thu 23-May-13 19:06:09

I don't mean they wouldn't recruit from a non-RG university, but they would tend to focus their budget (presentations/business games etc) on RG universities rather than much lesser universities or old polys (they also need to be sure a significant number of students will meet their UCAS entry requirements).

creamteas Thu 23-May-13 21:07:39

Eliza that is not my experience at all.

RG is a lobby group, not a sign of quality at all. Very employers are so stupid they don't know this grin. In fact, some RG depts have extremely poor graduate employment rates.

The amount of presentations etc depends on the course mix and size of the university, not some mythical status.

ElizaDoLots Thu 23-May-13 22:45:25

Creamteas are you saying that a large consultancy firm are going to invest as much money into recruiting someone from City Metropolitan as they are Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL?

MagratGarlik Thu 23-May-13 23:57:11

Agree absolutely with creamteas. RG was set up as a lobby group and is not a measure of quality etc.

Perhaps interestingly for those who snub the non-RG universities is that many members of senior management teams of RG universities obtained their own undergraduate degrees from non-RG universities.

ElizaDoLots Fri 24-May-13 00:13:10

Magrat and Creamteas - which universities would you rate as the strongest?

MagratGarlik Fri 24-May-13 00:23:58

It depends on the subject and what you are looking for from a university - you would need to define "strongest".

There is no easy one-definition-fits-all solution to finding "the best" university for your needs and graduates from one university are not necessarily better than those from another.

However, simply assuming that because staff are research leaders in their fields = better university is somewhat naive. A better research profile is important for postgraduate students, but not for undergraduates.

ElizaDoLots Fri 24-May-13 00:53:41

I meant if you were an employer with a limited recruitment budget

creamteas Fri 24-May-13 08:16:53

Obviously you would go to the universities were you think you will get good graduates, but this does not automatically mean RG. I live and work in the Midlands, so I know more about what happens around here.

Aston University Business School has offered sandwich degrees for all its students for years, and so has well known links to all major employers.

Coventry University has a great reputation in car engineering, and Leicester the same for aerospace so attracts employers who want these skills.

Don't also forget that many employers are regional, and if on a limited budget will recruit from all the universities around them. This is an excellent way of keeping the costs down.

HabbaDabba Fri 24-May-13 09:01:45

My (major American) employer don't have an official policy about RG/non RG graduate recruitment but in practice we tend to recruit from Oxbridge/RG.

It's like flying BA. It's a brand we know. In anycase, if you have thousands of CVs for a handful of positions the first filtering criteria would be to bin all those from unis that don't have a national reputation. Next up would probably be degree classification - Firsts and 2i only. Only when the CVs get to a manageable number do HR look at the individual details.

Sorry but if you are an outstanding graduate with a First from a uni that isn't highly regarded then your CV isn't going to survive the initial cut at most blue chip companies.

HabbaDabba Fri 24-May-13 09:18:50

With regards to the point about some RG unis having poor graduate employment record....

People aren't comparing like to like. Reseach jobs are quite scarce and highly competive. So of course some reseach heavy unis aren't going to place as many graduates as some 2nd tier uni churning out loads of IT graduates for example.

Also, RG unis tend to focus more on traditional subjects like Geography and History. Unis like Aston on the other hand focus on Business, IT, Engineering etc. Consequently Aston has a better overall graduate employment record than many RGs.

But if you are looking for a coveted training contract in Law and Accountancy for example then you should be looking at RG unis. Same if you want to be some high flyer in the City.

MagratGarlik Fri 24-May-13 11:06:26

It really depends what you want to do with your degree. RG is not a quality measure and you are better off researching the exact requirements for the career you want to enter than to blindly assume RG = best prospects.

In science for example, even if you don't want to go into academic research, your career prospects are limited if you have anything less than a PhD and in this case, who supervised your PhD is more important than the university you attended to obtain it. On the other hand, if you want to study a subject like Biomedical Sciences, you are best off having a degree which is accredited by the IBMS (largely post-92 universities) as most courses from RG universities are not and will not allow you to gain HCP registration.

There really is no "one size fits all" definition of a good or bad institution, only good or bad courses.

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