|This article is outdated. (December 2015)|
|Type||Association of United Kingdom-based universities|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
David Eastwood (Chairman)
The Russell Group is a self-selected association of 24 public research universities, with a shared reputation for academic prestige, situated in the United Kingdom. The group is headquartered in London and was established in 1994 to represent its members' interests, principally to government and parliament; 19 smaller British research universities formed the 1994 Group in response, which has since dissolved. In 2010, Russell Group members received approximately two-thirds of all university research grant and contract income in the United Kingdom.
As of May 2004[update],[update needed] Russell Group members awarded 56% of all doctorates awarded in the United Kingdom, and over 30% of all students studying in the United Kingdom from outside the EU. In the 2001 national Research Assessment Exercise,[update needed] 78% of the staff in Grade 5* departments and 57% of the staff in Grade 5 departments were located in Russell Group universities.
The Russell Group is so named because the first informal meetings of the Group took place at the Hotel Russell in Russell Square, London, generally shortly before meetings of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (now Universities UK) in nearby Tavistock Square, close to the University of London buildings and, particularly, Senate House.
The Russell Group was formed in 1994 by 17 British research universities – Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Imperial College London, Leeds, Liverpool, London School of Economics, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton, University College London and Warwick. Three Russell Group members are constituent colleges of the University of London. In 1998 Cardiff University and King's College London joined the group. In March 2001 the Russell Group decided against selecting a preferred option for the future funding of higher education, stating that endowments, a graduate contribution, increased public funding and top-up fees should all remain options. In December 2005 it was announced that the Russell Group would be appointing its first full-time director-general as a result of a planned expansion of its operations, including commissioning and conducting its own policy research. In November 2006 Queen's University Belfast was admitted as the twentieth member of the group. In the same month Wendy Piatt, the then deputy director in the Prime Minister's strategy unit, was announced as the group's new Director General and chief executive.
In March 2012 it was announced that four universities – Durham, Exeter, Queen Mary University of London; and York – would become members of the Russell Group in August of the same year. All of the new members had previously been members of the 1994 Group of British universities.
The Russell Group states that its objectives are to:
- lead the research efforts of the United Kingdom;
- maximise the income of its member institutions;
- attract the best staff and students to its member institutions;
- create a regulatory environment in which it can achieve these objectives by reducing government interference; and
- identify ways to co-operate to exploit the universities' collaborative advantage.
It works towards these objectives by lobbying the UK government and parliament; commissioning reports and research; creating a forum in which its member institutions can discuss issues of common concern; and identify opportunities for them to work together.
The Russell Group is led by Wendy Piatt, the Director General and chief executive, and chaired by Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. Piatt previously 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).
The Russell Group currently has twenty four members, of which twenty are from England, two from Scotland, and one from each of Wales and Northern Ireland. Of the English members, five are from Greater London; three from the Yorkshire and the Humber region; two from each of the North East, North West, West Midlands, South West and South East regions; and one from each of the East Midlands and East regions.
a The year in which a Royal Charter was granted, where known; in some cases the year of foundation may be earlier. Not all members have Royal Charters.
b Several universities do not use the title vice-chancellor for the administrative head of the university, and some use it in addition to other titles. The Russell Group lists all university heads as vice-chancellors
c Four of the five London-based members (King's College London, University College London, London School of Economics and Political Science and Queen Mary University of London) are constituent colleges of the federal University of London, although all gained degree awarding powers between 2005 and 2014 and now award their own degrees. The fifth London member, Imperial College London, was a college of the University of London but left in 2007 on gaining University status.
d Date of merger of UMIST and Victoria University of Manchester. (Gained their Royal Charters in 1956 and 1880 respectively.)
e Date of merger of Queen Mary College and Westfield College. (Gained their Royal Charters in 1934 and 1933 respectively.)
f Includes Cambridge Assessment and Cambridge University Press; excludes colleges.
g Cardiff University was awarded independent degree-awarding powers by the privy council in 1997. It was awarded university status in 2004, having previously been a constituent institute of the University of Wales (founded 1893).
In 2010/11, 19 of the 20 UK universities with the highest income from research grants and contracts were members of the Russell Group. 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. LSE was 21st, due to its focus on less costly social sciences 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.
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 Research Assessment Exercise 'Power' Table (the other two places being occupied by then non-Russell Group members, Durham University and Queen Mary University of London).
For 2015-16, the top 15 UK universities as ranked by the ARWU and 14 of the top 15 UK universities as ranked by both the QS and THE are members of the Russell Group (the other place being occupied by the University of St Andrews).
|University||ARWU (Global)a||QS (Global)a||THE (Global)a||Complete (National)b||Guardian (National)b||The Times (National)b|
|University of Birmingham||101–150||76||119||18||17||17|
|University of Bristol||63||37||69||15||35||20|
|University of Cambridge||5||3||4||1||1||1|
|University of Edinburgh||45||21||24||21||20||22|
|University of Exeter||201–300||161||93||10||9||7|
|University of Glasgow||101-150||62||76=||30||24||26|
|Imperial College London||22||8||8||4||8||3|
|King's College London||59||19||27||23||36||27|
|University of Leeds||101-150||87||133=||19||23||14|
|University of Liverpool||101–150||151||157||39||59||38=|
|London School of Economics||101–150||35||23||3||13||9|
|University of Manchester||38||33||56=||28||29||28=|
|University of Nottingham||101-150||70||143||25||28||25|
|University of Oxford||9||6||2||2||2||2|
|Queen Mary University of London||201–300||109||98||36||38||34|
|Queen's University Belfast||301–400||182||200||33||45||31|
|University of Sheffield||101–150||80||97||27||42||21|
|University of Southampton||101-150||81||110=||14||14||16|
|University College London||20||7||14||13||12||10|
|University of Warwick||151–200||48||80||7||6||6|
|University of York||201–300||103||131=||17||22||15|
a Global ranking; latest available year (2015-2016)
b National ranking; latest available year (2016)
In response to the Russell Group's support for tuition fees (and other issues), in 1994 the students' unions of the member universities formed the Aldwych Group as a parallel organisation to represent what they perceive to be the common interests of their students. It was established by money saving expert Martin Lewis (who was general secretary of LSE Students' Union in 1994/5) as a watchdog in response to the creation of the Russell Group.
Aside from the unions of the Russell Group universities (above), the Aldwych Group is also observed by two other bodies:
- The National Union of Students
- The National Postgraduate Committee, due to the high numbers of graduate students in the Russell Group and their research-intensive focus.
'Elite' status questioned
A Durham University academic, Vikki Boliver, published a report in 2015 claiming that the prestigious position of the Russell Group was not based on evidence, but rather successful marketing. Only the universities of Oxford and Cambridge stand far apart from other universities in the UK when analysis was performed on data on academic selectivity, research activity, teaching quality, socio-economic exclusivity and economic resources. The other 22 members of the Russell Group sit in a second tier of universities along with 17 other old universities (which includes University of Aberdeen, University of Bath, University of Dundee, University of East Anglia, Goldsmiths, Heriot-Watt University, University of Kent, Lancaster University, University of Leicester, Loughborough University, University of Reading, Royal Holloway, University of St Andrews, SOAS, University of Strathclyde, University of Surrey and University of Sussex). The main difference in results was seen between "old" universities and post-1992 universities.
The Institute of Economic Affairs has argued that the Russell Group acts out of protectionist interests. It is claimed that this will "restrict competition, discourage innovation and encourage inefficiency, thereby depriving students of lower prices and/or greater choice".
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.
- Association of American Universities
- Group of Eight (Australia)
- Innovative Research Universities (Australia)
- League of European Research Universities
- U15 Group of Canadian Research Universities
- C9 League
- German U15 - Association of 15 research-intensive Universities in German
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- "Hefce funding allocations 2007–08: All institutions". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 23 May 2010.
- 's RAE 2008 Power table
- "Academic Ranking of World Universities 2015 – United Kingdom". Shanghai Ranking Consultancy. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
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- "THE World University Rankings 2015–2016". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
- "Top UK University League Tables and Rankings 2016". Complete University Guide. Retrieved 5 September 2015.
- "University league table 2016 - the complete list". The Guardian. London. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 16 August 2014.
- "The Times Good University Guide 2016". The Good University Guide. London. Retrieved 21 September 2015.(subscription required)
- Aldwych Group homepage
- Student group threatens to boycott national survey, Guardian, 20 January 2006
- Universities slam Willetts' 'cut-price' degrees scheme, Independent, 13 May 2011
- "What about tax incentives for parents paying university fees?". The Guardian. London. 8 May 2001.
- "Most Russell Group universities ‘little different to other pre-92s’". Times Higher Education. 19 November 2015.
- Institute of Economic Affairs: James Stanfield