Russell Group universities: full UK list and rankings for 2021 - and if you can apply using UCAS Clearing

Many pupils will have been hoping to secure a spot on a Russell Group university course on Scottish exam results day
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It’s a significant day for pupils across Scotland who are receiving their official grades.

Exams were cancelled for the second year in a row due to the Covid pandemic, with this year’s results being decided by teachers after senior pupils sat a series of assessments.

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Pupils were told what they had achieved before schools broke up at the end of term but the results were made official on Tuesday (10 August), meaning thousands of Scottish students will be finding out whether they are going to their chosen university.

The University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh are both Russell Group institutions (Shutterstock)The University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh are both Russell Group institutions (Shutterstock)
The University of Glasgow and the University of Edinburgh are both Russell Group institutions (Shutterstock)

Many of them will have applied for Russell Group universities across the UK, with Scotland being home to two of these well-regarded institutions.

But what is the Russell Group and what universities are on the list?

Here’s what you need to know.

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What is the Russell Group?

The Russell Group universities make up 24 of the UK’s top higher education institutions.

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They have a reputation for excellent teaching and academic achievement and share a focus on research.

All of the universities are included in the top UK rankings, as well as some worldwide league tables.

The group, which got its name from the Russell Hotel in London where they used to gather, was founded in 1994 to petition the government into prioritising funding and research for the member universities.

It originally consisted of 17 research institutions, including the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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More universities became members over the years, and the group became an official organisation in 2007.

What are the entry requirements for Russell Group universities?

There aren’t specific entry requirements for Russell Group universities, with each institution and its courses requiring different grades.

However, entry requirements are likely to be high.

You can find a course’s entry requirements using this handy tool from The Uni Guide.

Do Russell Group universities offer courses in Clearing?

Yes, they do.

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Multiple Russell Group universities had at least one course available through Clearing in 2020.

However, according to The Times, they are offering only half the number of courses in Clearing that they were a year ago in 2021.

On results day, just over 2,300 courses were available at 14 of the prestigious institutions, in comparison to 4,500 at 17 universities last year.

Some of the institutions announce whether they have places available when Clearing opens, while others wait until results day to reveal what they have.

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UCAS always has an up-to-date list of available courses, including ones at Russell Group universities.

What are the Russell Group universities?

This is the full list of Russell Group institutions and their rankings according to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021.

University Ranking
University of Birmingham 12
University of Bristol 10
University of Cambridge 2
Cardiff University 27
Durham University 18
University of Edinburgh 6
University of Exeter 24
University of Glasgow 11
Imperial College London 3
King's College London 7
University of Leeds 20
University of Liverpool 22
London School of Economics & Political Science 5
University of Manchester 8
Newcastle University 25
University of Nottingham 19
University of Oxford 1
Queen Mary University of London 13
Queen's University Belfast 28
University of Sheffield 14
University of Southampton 15
University of Warwick 9
University of York 16

Which high-ranking universities aren’t part of the Russell Group?

Being part of the Russell Group is often regarded as a measure of prestige and a good degree from one of the institutions won’t go amiss when searching for a graduate job.

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But there are many well-known and well-respected institutions that aren’t members.

This includes top Scottish university St Andrews, as well as Lancaster, Bath, Loughborough, Sussex and Leicester which are regularly ranked highly in the league tables.

The Russell Group also isn’t the only university group in the UK - there’s the University Alliance which is a group of business-focused universities, and there’s Million+ which is a public policy think tank consisting of universities.

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