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Russell Group
Formation 1994
Type Association of UK universities
Location United Kingdom
Membership 20
Key people Dr Wendy Piatt (Director General)
Professor Michael Arthur (Chairman)
Website Official Website

The Russell Group is a collaboration of twenty UK universities that together receive two-thirds of research grant and contract funding in the United Kingdom.[1] It was established in 1994 to represent their interests to the government, parliament and other similar bodies. It is sometimes referred to as the British equivalent of the Ivy League of the United States.[2] The Russell Group contains many of the United Kingdom's leading universities; 18 of its 20 members are in the top 20 in terms of research funding.[3] Nineteen smaller research universities formed the 1994 Group in response.

In May 2004, Russell Group universities accounted for 65% (over £1.8billion) of UK universities' research grant and contract income, 56% of all doctorates awarded in the United Kingdom, and over 30% of all students studying in the United Kingdom from outside the EU.[4] In the 2001 national Research Assessment Exercise, 78% of the staff in Grade 5* departments and 57% of the staff in Grade 5 departments were located in Russell Group universities,[5] and in 2004/5 Russell Group universities were allocated approximately 64% of the total quality-related research funding (QR) allocated by the Funding Councils.[5]

Getting in to a university in the Russell Group is very difficult and is getting harder each year. In total the 20 universities take in about 75,000 new students in the first year, every year. In 2008-9 about 8 people chased each place to the universities. Now, in 2010 it is said to have increased to 9 or 10 people for each place.[citation needed]



The Russell Group states that its objectives are to:

  • lead the UK's research effort;
  • maximise income for its member institutions;
  • attract the best staff and students to those institutions;
  • create the regulatory environment in which it can achieve these objectives by reducing government interference; and
  • identify ways to co-operate in order to exploit the universities' collaborative advantage.

It works towards these objectives by lobbying the UK government and parliament by commissioning reports and research, creating a forum in which the universities can discuss issues of common concern and identify ways to work together.


The group is chaired by Professor Michael Arthur, Vice Chancellor of University of Leeds. Dr Wendy Piatt was appointed in January 2007 as Director General. Formerly, she worked as Deputy Director in the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and as former head of education at the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR).[6]

The group's Director of Research is Libby Aston, a former advisor to the Select Committee for Education and Skills specialising in higher education policy. She has also worked at the Higher Education Funding Council for England from 2000 and at the Higher Education Policy Institute from its establishment in 2003 as their Senior Researcher.[7]


The Russell Group is so named because the first informal meetings of the Group took place at the Russell Hotel in Russell Square, London, generally shortly before meetings of Universities UK (formerly known as Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, or CVCP) in Tavistock Square.

Research funding

In terms of total research funding allocations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2007/8, the top 15 universities were all Russell Group institutions.[8] LSE was 21st, due to its focus on less lucrative social science research. Queen's University, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh, were not included in this table, as they are not English institutions. The Russell Group institutions received 82% of the total HEFCE research funding allocation.[8]

It should be noted that the research funding figures depend on factors other than the quality of research, in particular there are variations due to institutional size and subject spread (e.g. science, technology and medicine tend to attract more money).

In 2008, 18 of the 20 members were positioned in the top 20 of Research Fortnight's RAE 'Power' Table (the other two places being occupied by non-Russell Group members, Durham University and Queen Mary, University of London).[9]

Policy on tuition fees

The Russell Group has been prominent in recent years in the debate over the introduction of tuition fees, a measure which it has strongly supported - much to the dismay of the universities' students' unions. Indeed, members of the Group argued that even the fees proposed by the controversial Higher Education Bill would not be sufficient to cover the rising cost of undergraduate teaching, and successfully argued for the right to charge variable fees at much higher rates, so-called top-up fees.[citation needed]

Aldwych Group

In response to the Russell Group's support for tuition fees (and other issues), the students' unions of the member universities formed the Aldwych Group as a parallel organisation to represent the common interests of their students.


The current membership of the Group is:[10]

League Tables

The figures used are from The Times online, average figures for 1998-2007. The national ranking is out of 119 institutions.[11]

University National Ranking Ranking within Russell Group
Cambridge 01 01
Oxford 02 02
London School of Economics 03 03
Imperial College London 04 04
University College London 05 05
Warwick 07 06
Nottingham 08 07
Bristol 10 08
Edinburgh 13 09
King's College London 14 10
Southampton 14 10
Manchester 17 11
Sheffield 18 12
Birmingham 19 13
Newcastle 23 14
Cardiff 24 15
Leeds 26 16
Glasgow 28 17
Liverpool 31 18
Queens' University Belfast 34 19

Research Funding

The Guardian figures from 2009/10.[12] Figures only available for England and so Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Queens' Belfast are omitted.

SN University Funding (£,000)
01 University of Oxford 119,434
02 University of Cambridge 114,060
03 University College London 104,916
04 Imperial College London 92,761
05 University of Manchester 83,000
06 King's College London 59,431
07 University of Nottingham 51,045
08 University of Bristol 50,424
09 University of Leeds 49,502
10 University of Sheffield 45,610
11 University of Birmingham 44,976
12 University of Southampton 44,594
13 University of Liverpool 39,452
14 Newcastle University 35,865
15 University of Warwick 32,633
16 London School of Economics 16,181

See also


External links



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