The Complete Guide To Russell Group Universities (Updated 2024)

Everything you need to know about Russell Group Universities.
The Complete Guide To Russell Group Universities

In this article, we address some common questions about graduate employability and entry requirements for the Russell Group universities. We also have a list of the Russell Group Universities and a league table comparing university rankings and sizes.

Table of Contents

List of Russell Group Universities and Ranking League Table 2024

We’ve put together the league table below that lists the Russell Group Universities along with its respective 2024 rankings in the country. The second column is a list of some of the university’s subjects that ranks among the top ten courses in the country. The size refers to the total student population of the university.

What is the Russell Group?

The Russell Group Universities are a collective of UK universities known for its research quality and teaching standards. Out of the 24 universities in the group, four of them, Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, and UCL, are the top ten universities in the world. The universities from the group have built a reputation for the quality of education offered and are popular choices among university applicants. 

The Russell Group’s reputation in the academic world is unparalleled – these 24 universities reportedly receive two-thirds of all research grants in the UK. This means that the Russell Group is a major contributor to academia in the UK and consequently, attracts some of the best academics. According to the Research Excellence Framework, 68% of the country’s world-leading research is produced by the universities in the group.

Russell Group universities reportedly perform better than many other universities for graduate employability and student satisfaction. The group’s reputation for its quality of education and research is well-known globally and has attracted a diverse student population, with an average of 34% non-UK students attending these 24 universities.

History of the Russell Group

The Russell Group was founded in 1994 for the purpose of representing their collective interests to the government. The group was named after Hotel Russell, which is where the heads of these universities often met informally.

Russell Group Universities Entry Requirements

Russell Group Universities are research-intensive and are among the top universities in the country which explains why higher grades tend to be a requirement for entry. However, as with any other university in the UK, requirements will vary from course to course and from university to university.

Some of the universities from the group, namely Cambridge, Oxford, UCL, and Imperial, are the top universities in the country and the world. These universities have some of the highest A-level requirements for any university in the UK as competition for entry is fierce.

Russell Group Universities Entry Requirements

If you intend to apply to the top universities in the Russell Group such as Cambridge and Oxford, you will typically need AAA and above to apply to most of its courses. Depending on the course, the other universities in the group may require a minimum of ABB. If your A-Level results do not meet their minimum requirements for an undergraduate programme, most of these universities will offer a foundation programme and will admit students with BCC and above. For more information about UK foundation programmes, check out our article here.

Need help applying to a Russell Group University? Contact us for a free consultation!

Are Russell Group Universities Harder to Get Into?

The short answer is yes – depending on the course, Russell Group Universities have high entry requirements compared to most other universities. There are some other important factors to consider here which are acceptance rates, number of annual applicants, and university ranking.

As mentioned earlier, competition is fierce for entry into Oxford and Cambridge, the top universities in the world. These universities receive an overwhelming number of applicants every year – both Cambridge and Oxford receive around 20,000-23,000 applications per year while they only have 3,300-3600 undergraduate places. This puts the acceptance rate at around 15-16%, which is largely due to the number of applications it receives every year. These two universities also have a lower offer rate of between 20-30%, which means that applicants are less likely to receive conditional offers after applying.

Other universities from the group, such as Nottingham and Leeds, receive a large number of applications as well, around 45,000 per year. These two universities also have an acceptance rate of around 15%, largely due to limited places and the large volume of applications. However, these universities have a higher offer rate of 70-80%. This means that while Nottingham and Leeds are more likely to make a conditional offer, many applicants were unable to meet the stipulated conditions.

In summary, it may be more difficult to get into Russell Group Universities because of the high volume of applications and high entry requirements. However, this is also true of any other university that is popular among applicants and it may vary from course to course.

The data for this section is provided by UCAS and can be accessed here

How to Apply to a Russell Group University

Step 1: Choose A University

The first step is to choose universities that offer courses you are interested in. Refer to the table above to start your search. Here are some things to consider when applying:

  • Location
  • Employability/Graduate prospects
  • Fees
  • Entry requirements
  • University Ranking

Step 2: Preparations

Once you have narrowed down the search to your top five universities, the first step is to prepare necessary documents and forms. This includes school leaving certificates, exam results, the UCAS application form and a written Personal Statement, among other documents that may be required.

Step 3: Submit UCAS Application

The application process for UK universities is different from other countries as applications go through an organisation known as UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. UCAS handles all admission applications to UK universities, including those submitted by international candidates like you.

To ensure a better chance of getting accepted, it is important that you prepare all the necessary documents and fill out all forms correctly. We also recommend that you apply for multiple universities simultaneously to ensure that you get your preferred offers. Read our full guide on UCAS here

More about UCAS

The entire application process might be daunting and lengthy for some, so let us help you. Make a free appointment with us today for professional assistance in submitting applications to your prefered UK universities.

Entry Requirements for Russell Group Universities

Here are some of the common entry requirements and tests a student has to pass before being accepted at a UK university.

  • English Language Test requirement – such as IELTS or TOEFL.
  • Criminal records declaration (DBS/Disclosure Scotland for Scottish Universities)
  • Health checks.
  • Entrance interviews.
  • Personal statement. This is a supporting document and part of your application to a UK university. Usually, you will write about what you hope to achieve studying at the course, what you plan to do after graduating and why you are applying for this specific university.

Russell Group Universities Graduate Employability

Attending a Russell Group University does not automatically guarantee that you will easily get a job as a graduate but the quality of education and the reputation of these universities are undeniable.

If you intend to pursue a postgraduate degree, a Russell Group university would be extremely beneficial to your CV as these universities are known for its research intensity and quality. Being part of one of these universities may open you up to many networking and research opportunities.

If you plan to work after university, there are a few factors that determine graduate employability. Rankings are a good indicator of graduate employability as it is a key aspect that is taken into consideration when rankings are determined. A study conducted in 2016 by HESA measures graduate employability based on the type of job held by graduates six months after graduation. This is a common metric used in a number of UK university rankings.

Another aspect of graduate employability is how well the course has prepared its graduates for work in the industry. This is a difficult criterion to quantify, but student satisfaction is an excellent way to determine whether students have felt their courses to be adequate and taught them enough about the subject. Student satisfaction is also another important metric that is used to determine rankings.

The Russell Group universities tend to score well for graduate employability and student satisfaction. In short, the reputation of these universities may help you gain a job, but graduate employability is not guaranteed based on the university you attend. However, you could be sure that any university in the group produces top-notch research and offers quality education.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Russell Group Universities are a collective of UK universities known for its research quality and teaching standards. The group has built a reputation for the quality of education offered and are popular choices among university applicants and employers alike.

The number one university in the Russell Group is the University of Cambridge. The second and third best universities in the Russell Group are Oxford University (2nd in the UK) and the London School of Economics (LSE) (4th in the UK) respectively.

The top universities in the Russell Group such as Cambridge and Oxford will require a minimum of AAA and above to apply for most courses. Other universities in the group may require a minimum of ABB, depending on the course.

The application deadline for Oxford and Cambridge is 15 October. Some courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine also have the same deadline of 15 October. The UCAS deadline for most universities in the group is 15 January in the year of admission.

The short answer is yes – depending on the course, Russell Group Universities have high entry requirements compared to most other universities. There are some other important factors to consider here which are acceptance rates, number of annual applicants, and university ranking.

List of Russell Group Universities and Ranking League Table 2024

Looking for the top Russell Group Universities based on the 2024 League Table? Here is the 2024 Ranking League Table for Russell Group Universities.

UniversitySubjects Ranked in the Top TenUK RankingTEF ratingSize
University of CambridgeMedicine, Economics, Psychology, Law, Sociology, Engineering, and 39 other subjects1Gold23,247
University of OxfordLaw, Medicine, Engineering, Linguistics, Mathematics, Psychology, Politics, and 30 other subjects2Gold24,000
London School of Economics & Political ScienceEconomics, Law, Politics, Sociology, and six other subjects4Bronze11,000
Imperial College LondonMechanical Engineering, Physics & Astronomy, Civil Engineering, Mathematics and 9 other subjects5Gold19,115
Durham UniversityMarketing, Accounting and Finance, Biological Sciences, Anthropology, Philosophy, and 26 other subjects7Gold19,025
University College LondonClassics & Ancient History, Anthropology, Russian & East European Languages, Economics, Psychology, and 18 other subjects10Silver43,900
University of WarwickEconomics, Physics & Astronomy, Linguistics, Chemistry, and 13 other subjects11Silver26,531
University of ExeterMarketing, Geology, Politics, Archaeology, Sports Science, and 19 other subjects12Gold22,085
University of BirminghamDentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Social Work, Hospitality, Languages, and 19 other subjects13Gold34,000
University of BristolSociology, Veterinary Medicine, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering, Psychology, and 10 other subjects14Silver25,955
University of EdinburghMedicine, Veterinary Medicine, Law, Theology, Mathematics, and 13 other subjects15N/A41,312
University of LeedsFood Science, Communication & Media Studies, Geology, Music, Art & Design, and 12 other subjects16Gold36,250
University of ManchesterDrama, Dance & Cinematics, Nursing, Physics & Astronomy, English, French, German, and 15 other subjects17Silver40,250
University of SouthamptonGeology, Mechanical Engineering, Music, Marketing, Anatomy & Physiology, and 10 other subjects17Silver25,000
University of GlasgowMedicine, Psychology, Law, Music, Business & Management Studies, Chemistry, Pharmacy, and 26 other subjects19Ν/Α30,000
King's College London, University of LondonDentistry, Biological Sciences, Classics & Ancient History, and 7 other subjects20Silver27,600
University of NottinghamSocial Policy, Creative Writing, Chemical Engineering, East & South Asian Studies, and nine other subjects20Gold33,540
University of YorkArchaeology, Chemistry, English, History of Art, Architecture & Design, Nursing, Social Work22Gold19,470
Newcastle UniversityArchitecture, Creative Writing, Agriculture & Forestry, Dentistry, and eight other subjects23Gold37,946
Queen's University BelfastAccounting & Finance, Town Planning & Landscape Design, Pharmacology & Pharmacy, and seven other subjects27N/A24,000
University of SheffieldHistory, Optometry, Opthalmology & Orthoptics, Civil Engineering, and nine other subjects28Silver30,195
Cardiff UniversityDentistry, Occupational Therapy, Music, and 10 other subjects30Silver33,190
University of LiverpoolOccupational Therapy, Chemistry, Nursing, and four other subjects33Silver30,000
Queen Mary, University of LondonDentistry, Medicine, General Engineering35Silver27,000

Get Free Russell Group University Application Assistance

If you would like a free consultation about UK universities or any step of the application process, contact us today or come visit us at our office in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. Book an appointment with us now!

Apply For A Russell Group University - Free Consultation