For teachers and career advisers

Russell Group universities work closely with schools and colleges across the UK to help raise attainment and aspirations, and to provide careers information, advice and guidance.

Teachers conference

Collectively, Russell Group universities’ students and staff have an enormous reach, working with thousands of young people and teachers in the UK. In 2015-16 the 20 Russell Group universities in England alone will invest £49 million on outreach activities.

Raising attainment

The key reason why too few students from disadvantaged backgrounds apply to leading universities is that they are not achieving the right grades in the right subjects.

You can explore which subjects can help unlock degrees at our universities using Informed Choices.

Although universities cannot solve this problem alone, Russell Group universities work extensively with schools and colleges across the UK to support teachers to identify and build on potential – and to raise the attainment of pupils, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Our universities do this in a variety of proactive ways, including:

  • Sponsoring academies or setting up schools
  • Running substantial, long-term programmes with students from poorer backgrounds
  • Providing continuing professional development for teachers
  • Delivering academic support through mentoring 
  • Supporting after-school homework clubs and revision sessions

See our 10-year plan for improving access and participation at university and case studies of some of the most successful initiatives.

Information, advice and guidance

Russell Group universities invest significant time and resources in developing and delivering high-quality information, advice and guidance initiatives to:

  • Challenge negative perceptions of higher education and raise student aspirations
  • Help students choose the right subjects for them and understand course requirements
  • Provide advice on applications.

If you would like more information and resources to support your students in making their decisions, you can access a free suite of resources, created by our 24 university members. Advancing Access is designed to help you find out more about how to apply to university, how the admissions process works and how to support your students in making their choices. 

Get free resources to help your students from Advancing Access

Frequently-asked questions:

Below are a series of questions that are frequently asked by teachers and careers advisers. If you can't find an answer to your question here it is likely that there is not a common answer across all 24 Russell Group universities. In this situation, we would encourage you to contact universities' admissions staff directly using the Useful links.

Can someone from the Russell Group come to my school or college to speak to students?

The Russell Group itself is a small policy-focused organisation and so we simply don't have the capacity to accept every invitation to speak in schools and colleges. However, our member universities all have schools liaison and outreach departments who work with schools in many different ways, including talking to parents, teachers and pupils about studying at university and at Russell Group universities in particular. You'll find links to their websites in University website links on this page.

Can students count subjects like Critical Thinking, Citizenship Studies and/or General Studies?

These subjects are usually better taken only as ‘extra’ subjects, rather than being one of the advanced level subjects on which your university application relies. For more information, students should check entry requirements.

How do Russell Group universities view the AS-level?

A student's choice of subjects at advanced level will be key to determining the university courses open to them. Generally speaking, universities make offers of places based on three A-level grades.  However, some courses at some universities also ask for an AS-level and some universities such as Cambridge and LSE see particular educational value in students taking AS-levels, so it is important that they check entry requirements and guidance on university websites.

Admissions staff are used to assessing applications in the context of different qualification systems and the different ways that schools and colleges deliver the curriculum, and are keen to ensure their processes present no unnecessary barriers for students. Several universities have produced statements on qualification reform, links to which can be found here

How do Russell Group universities view the Core Maths qualifications?

‘Core Maths’ refers to a new group of mathematics qualifications designed for students who have achieved a grade A*-C in GCSE, who are not taking the subject to AS or A-level, but who wish to continue studying maths beyond GCSE.

Russell Group universities value mathematics skills for many different degree courses, and many have GCSE or equivalent requirements. Many degree courses require Maths at A-level or AS-level, and some courses require Further Maths.

Universities will not generally require Core Maths qualifications for entry onto degree courses. It is important to be aware that where a university requires AS or A-level Maths or Further Maths, a Core Maths qualification would generally not be a suitable substitute.  It is important to check entry requirements carefully.

How do Russell Group universities view practical science assessments at A-level?

Russell Group universities value practical skills learnt during the study of science at A-level, which lay the foundation for studying at undergraduate level.  In future, pupils in England will receive a separate ‘pass/fail’ mark for their science A-levels. 

Entry requirements vary between courses and institutions. Many Russell Group universities will expect students with A-levels in science to have a ‘pass’ in the practical science element.  It is important for prospective students to check university entry requirements. 

How do Russell Group universities view the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)?

The Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) is roughly equivalent to half an A-level and is available as a standalone qualification. It is a single piece of work of a student's choosing that requires evidence of planning, preparation, research and independent learning. These are skills that are valuable for study at university.

The EPQ is valued by Russell Group universities. Universities differ in whether or not they will include the EPQ as part of any offer they make to a student, but you students can draw upon their Extended Project in their personal statement and at interview to provide evidence of enthusiasm for their chosen subject. Check university guidance for more information.