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to ask if DC shouldn't bother with university if they can't get into a Russell Group one?

(663 Posts)
TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:36

I'd never heard of the ruddy things before I joined MN. Didn't even realise I'd been to one. I do recall when I had a tedious summer job in Human Resources which included "sifting" job applications for an international firm of accountants, being told to dump any that weren't from a handful of universities.

So my question is; if your child can't get into an RG university - should they accept that they will be unemployable oiks upon graduation and resign themselves to a life working in call centres?

mummytime Sat 15-Jun-13 19:40:14

For some careers you need a degree, where from can influence your career in lots of ways. If I had gone to any RG Uni other than the one I did, I would not have got a lot of the jobs I got after graduating, however going to a Poly would have been just as good. My DH wouldn't have had the career he has if he hadn't happened to do a specific 2nd year project, and it is still relevant to him today.
Some courses can only be done at certain no RG Unis. Some top employers sponsor students through degrees, and often not at RG Unis.

But I also once was interviewed by a company that only recruited from Oxford, Cambridge wasn't good enough.

Copthallresident Sat 15-Jun-13 20:45:51

William Quoting stats from LBS is a total red herring, you only get into LBS if you have potential in business (well in their terms) and many will already have already built up a CV of relevant skills. The MBA subject tables are very different to those of mainstream unis let alone the subject tables. Cranfield? One of the top Business Schools in the UK by any measure and arguably if you want practical skills the best. (My MBA not from Cranfield but at the time wished it was..........)

williaminajetfighter Sat 15-Jun-13 21:22:21

Yes Copt you're probably right. But first univ I could find that had good details about recruitment for that very reason. Some just don't publish the deets...

apostropheuse Sat 15-Jun-13 21:26:49

Sorry, Morgan's Mum, I was being facetious.

I think it goes without saying that St Andrew's is on a par with Oxford and Cambridge. smile

WhatICallAUsername Sat 15-Jun-13 22:01:48

FWIW Exeter was only made RG last year, so is not long standing. (Also v. good for MFL, TuTuTilly)

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 04:01:01

OlidusUrsus -- 'credible employers' is hard to define but large companies, international corporations, silk stocking law firms, The City -- all sift by university. This has been the case since the mid 80s at the very least (my experience is in Ireland).

Toadinthehole Sun 16-Jun-13 04:17:56

Silk stocking law firms??

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:18:37

Choosing the right uni is very important. There is no point doing 'law' or something like that at an ex-polls and expect to actually be able to get a training contract.

Likewise you are often best placed going to an ex-polly for some of the 'newer' subjects as they often have better established, more respected courses with better links to industry

If you just want to do a general subject degree like English Lit or Economics of Geography and then go into a standard graduate job, I think you do need to go to a decent uni and get a 2:1.

I completely agree with that. When I was helping my son choose, I wrote every single uni out of a piece of paper, in the order in which they were ranked that year, and then drew lines to separate the top, middle and bottom thirds, and told him to concentrate on looking at the bottom of the top third or the very top of the bottom third, with maybe one 'long shot' thrown in for luck. I felt that based on his predicted results that was his safest bet of getting a nice bunch of offers from respected unis, rather than aiming too high or doing that herd thing of going 'must be RG, must be RG' and ending up with nothing, due to massive over subscription, and having to take someone completely shit at clearing.

He got a full set of five offers, which was a lovely position to be in. He only applied to one RG (which was not his optimistic 'long shot', funnily enough.) which he ended up turning down because it as not as well regarded for his course as other non-RGs on his offers list.

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:21:50

something shit at clearing, not someone!

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 04:22:55

Oh FFS. I don't mean the very top of the bottom third, I mean the very top of the middle third. Obviously! grin

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 04:23:34


'On average, the country’s leading employers have been actively marketing their 2013 graduate vacancies at twenty UK universities, using a variety of university careers fairs, campus recruitment presentations and online advertising...
...The ten universities most-often targeted by Britain’s top graduate employers in 2012-2013 are Warwick, Nottingham, Manchester, Cambridge, Bristol, Durham, Oxford, Birmingham, Bath and Leeds.'
(from 'Summary', p. 30)

On p. 27 you will see that of the top 25 universities targeted by employers, only Aston, Liverpool, Strathclyde, Loughborough and Bath are non-RG. That means 17 of the top 25 are RG universities. Of course, the 5 non-RG universities in the top 25 outstripped some RG universities for recruitment, but 17/25 is pretty impressive and in my books, a RG university would be a good bet for a student thinking ahead to paying off the loans.

lljkk Sun 16-Jun-13 07:53:02

Lots of scope to quibble about how "top employer" was defined.

An awful lot of people who work for Aldi & Lidl never went to Uni.
Terry Leahy himself was a self-confessed clown at school and "only" went to UMIST.

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 08:03:36

It also implies that a RG is a safe bet- it isn't. DS went to one with a science subject- it is tough when you come out and want a job. Even tougher if you did something like history. You are better served by researching the subject, the career you want and the best place to do it- rather than just assuming you can do your best subject at a RG university and all will be well.

marriedinwhiteagain Sun 16-Jun-13 08:08:27

It depends what you want to read at university and what you want to do afterwards.

If you want to be a lawyer and join a magic circle firm then yes you probably do need RG and probably a first or a 2:1; the same would go for the top accountancy firms/management consultants, blue chip graduate training schemes, etc. Firms in the first/second division probably take trainees from other uni's but would still, I think be looking for a 2:1 minimum.

If you want to do teaching, nursing, pharmacy, some aspects of engineering, etc., then I don't think it's so important and there are specialist courses at other universities or former polys that might be more appropriate.

There's also the 1992 Group I believe.

A lot depends on the person doesn't it; ds is very bright and definitely RG material (off to one in September) - dd is top average and a gentler soul and probably needs to look at something more vocational within a broader range of HE.

I didn't even go to uni (ancient) but I still pulled down £100k per annum in the mid 80's-mid 90's. DH went to a top RG uni and is very successful. We know lots of people who have been to top RG uni's and aren't successful at all.

Wherever you go I think you need to aim for a 2:1.

exoticfruits Sun 16-Jun-13 08:11:53

Less than a 2:1 at a RG isn't going to open doors. Getting the place is only the start.

iamadoozermum Sun 16-Jun-13 08:24:07

But mathsanxiety that report isn't particularly representative of HE as a whole. The top 100 companies surveyed were the top 100 companies identified by final year students based at 30 "leading" universities. So, these companies are the companies that students know about - probably from seeing them on campus? So there is a potential confound there. Those 100 companies will have around 17,000 graduate vacancies between them. However, in 2012 roughly 390,000 obtained a first degree (HESA), so where are the others going? So all we can say is that those employers known by students at leading universities tend to promote themselves at those universities.

Interestingly though, they compared the universities targeted by these companies with the Times Good University Guide rankings and found:

"In it [The Good Uni Guide] Oxford and Cambridge are ranked in 1st and 2nd place but Manchester, the third most-targeted university by the leading employers, fails to even make the top thirty in the guide. And by contrast, St Andrews and Lancaster which are ranked 6th and 12th respectively in the guide, do not appear in the employers’ top twenty universities."

TheRealFellatio interesting way to do it, but did you do this by subject or overall university? Where I work, the institution is in the bottom 20% in The Guardian table, but my subject is in the top 30% of all universities. We are also in the top 20 institutions for graduate employability and teaching quality in the Sunday Times Good University Guide, so it depends on what you concentrate on.

TheRealFellatio Sun 16-Jun-13 08:36:37

I did it initially by university alone, because I am aware that whatever your course, some people will always be biased (or indeed repelled) by the name or age of the establishment on your CV (as this thread shows) but then we narrowed it down based on reputation/effectiveness of the faculty and the course. Some of it was based on practicalities as well though, like location, distance from home, cost of rent etc.

It was a pretty traditional BA joint Hons in a fairly classic combination of subjects. He turned down Birmingham.

DeepRoots Sun 16-Jun-13 08:51:59

It definitely depends what you want to do. Reading University now rated in top 10% worldwide and they are first class for such things as teacher training. University of surrey is excellent for science and engineering type degrees but neither are Russell group listed.

I was told by my sixth form, a long long time ago admittedly, that I was better going to an established teacher training college affiliated to a uni . That still seems to be true for OT, physiotherapy courses and Bed type degrees - think St John's in York, Winchester etc.

I also agree that a 2:1 gets you noticed. A friend's children who have applied and gone to uni the last couple of years from a top sixth form college, were pretty much told RG for English, History etc degrees unless the course has a proper job at the end of it and is well regarded for research in the industry.

I think you really have to think carefully about university as an option now because times have changed and its an expensive waste of time unless you are clear what you want.

cory Sun 16-Jun-13 09:08:24

Taking that 17/25 statistic mathanxiety quoted, it would seem (if you are going for the kind of job investigated) a good reason to reject a non-RG university if you had to draw them out of a hat and couldn't know anything else about the individual institutions.

But seeing that we can know something about them, it would seem a very poor reason for rejecting e.g. Loughborough. We don't need to work out the statistical chances of Loughborough being on the list when we already know it is on the list.

And again, it would seem a very odd reason for choosing an RG university that wasn't not on the list because statistically there would be a high likelihood of its being on the list.

It's the individual names of the list that matter, not the statistics.

I can sit here and work out the statistical chances of my garden being covered in snow at this particular date in June. But then again, I can look out of the window...

Or, in the case of a university, check where that particular institution is in the league tables, including student satisfaction, employment etc.

Lazyjaney Sun 16-Jun-13 09:33:17

Just look at the average UCAS scores per university or subject, that will tell you the calibre of the kids going in. Some RG are very good, some less so. Ditto some not RG.

And just to increase the hand wringing, it's always interesting to compare international vs British league tables smile

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 17:16:30

It's not a matter of employers promoting themselves around a campus, as if the students were in a position to pick one to work for. It's a matter of companies able to pick and choose and only choosing certain campuses on which to recruit their future employees, with a huge amount of competition among potential employees for precious jobs.

This is not to say that graduates from other universities don't have a hope of being employed by those companies, or that other companies wouldn't offer the chance at a great career, but the path into that great career isn't as straightforward for graduates in a university where they don't get the chance to interview on campus but have to send an unsolicited CV instead.

When the DCs were applying to universities (in the US) their system was to have two that would be real reaches, two or more that would be a good match for their grades and a safety that they were sure of getting into, with a total of six or seven applications. Their plans upon getting in were to do degrees in subjects that were heavy on maths and/or science. I subscribe to this opinion -- I also agree that a 2:1 gets you noticed. A friend's children who have applied and gone to uni the last couple of years from a top sixth form college, were pretty much told RG for English, History etc degrees unless the course has a proper job at the end of it and is well regarded for research in the industry. I think you really have to think carefully about university as an option now because times have changed and its an expensive waste of time unless you are clear what you want.

mathanxiety Sun 16-Jun-13 17:19:23

Another factor in what graduate gets the job is whether that person has ever had a job before. Many employers shy away from taking on a 21 or 22 year old and paying them a decent salary if they have rough edges to chip off. 'Works well with others' always goes down well.

piprabbit Sun 16-Jun-13 17:21:59

RG Universities have clubbed together to form a brand which can be marketed as being superior <adopts husky voice "This isn't just any university, this is an RG university">.

They aren't necessarily better than other universities, and for certain subjects are not the best places to study.

You can buy into their self-promoting hype or you can do some proper research to find the university that provides the best fit for an individual student.

Talkinpeace Sun 16-Jun-13 18:03:17

The Russell Group
Only on Mumsnet is there an impression that it is about admissions and kudos.

The Russell Group is a selection of research focussed universities who banded together to fight 1990's Tory cuts in PhD funding.
Because they were Research oriented they happened to be more rigorous.
Some of the highly rigorous non research unis clearly never got involved.

Then eejits in government started using RG as shorthand for "good" when it does not, never has and never will mean that.

For certain research based subjects, and RG Uni is all there really is - for other stuff its irrelevant.

But RG is about postgrads not undergrads.

StripeyYogurt Sun 16-Jun-13 18:10:08

I could have gone to a RG uni but opted for a non RG uni.

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