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What Are the Russell Group Universities?

On this page, we list the 24 Russell Group universities, link to up-to-date rankings, and explain the benefits of studying at a Russell Group university.

Who are the Russell Group Universities?

Today, there are 24 universities in the group. Here is a list of the Russell Group universities:

  • 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
  • LSE (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
  • UCL (University College London)
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York 

What is the Russell Group?

University of Edinburgh, one of the 24 Russell Group universities

The Russell Group universities represent 24 of the UK's top higher education institutions and promote excellent teaching and research. You'll find them all at the top of the UK rankings, as well as some global league tables.

The group was founded in 1994 by the universities themselves, and originally there were 17. The main reason for getting together was to petition the government to make decisions in the interests of member universities on issues such as funding and research. The group got its name from the Russell Hotel in London, where they used to meet.

Check out our video guide for a quick overview:

Russell Group university rankings for 2024

The Guardian has an interactive guide to university rankings (also known as league tables), so you can filter by the region where you want to go to university and the subject you want to study.

The table includes all of the top universities in the UK – they're not all in the Russell Group.

This guide explains what the league tables can and can't tell you.

What’s so great about studying at a Russell Group university?

Russell Group universities have outstanding teaching, research and student facilities. On average, they also have more teaching staff available per student than other universities, and their graduates have a great reputation for bagging high-paying jobs.

One in three students receive bursaries or scholarships to help with their studies.

Do I need to go to a Russell Group university to get a good degree?

No, and although they're great, they're certainly not the be-all and end-all. Not all of the top-ranked UK universities are in the group, including St Andrews and Bath universities, even though both consistently rank near the top of the league tables.

Remember that member universities set up the group itself. This is partly why they have continued to be so successful, as they have been able to join together to put pressure on the government about things that matter to them.

You might find that there are universities that better suit your needs, depending on the course and subject you want to study, and what you're looking for from teaching, student life, accommodation and other things that are important to you.

Take a look at our guide to picking a university for more advice.

And don't forget: you can also do an apprenticeship to get a degree.

How do I get in?

These universities tend to ask for high A-level/Scottish higher grades and International Baccalaureate scores. Usually, you need to get all A*s and As in your A-levels, and often straight A*s.

Check each university prospectus to find out what their typical offers are for different subjects. You should also think about taking at least one or even two facilitating subjects at A-level. These could include English, maths or a foreign language.

For advice on applying to any top university, check out our post on how to apply to Oxford and Cambridge, complete with advice from an Oxbridge student. 

Image credits

University of Edinburgh via Wikimedia Commons