Education

Russell Group universities are committed to providing an outstanding education and experience for their students, helping them to learn the skills they need to enter the workforce.

Our universities train more than 80% of the UK’s doctors and dentists, and around half of mathematics and physical sciences graduates. This helps ensure the UK has the talent pool to meet the needs of employers.

Teaching and research excellence at Russell Group universities creates an ideal environment, attracting the most outstanding students from the UK and across the world.

This is reflected in our universities’ performance on a range of measures:

  • On average, students at Russell Group universities are more satisfied with their courses, less likely to drop out, and more likely to enter professional employment when they graduate compared to students at other universities.
  • Graduates from our universities earn on average around 10% more than graduates of other universities over a lifetime.
  • Of those in employment six months after graduating, 80% of leavers with a first degree from a Russell Group university were in professional employment, compared to 68% for other universities.

 

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Student experience

Students make a direct financial contribution to their education and it is more important than ever that our universities provide a high-quality experience.

Russell Group universities continuously invest in talented staff, state-of-the-art facilities and better support systems for students, so that they get the most from their time at university.

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Since 2012 our universities have invested £930 million in teaching and research facilities and a further £920 million on student accommodation, sports and social facilities, libraries and IT. This will allow them to build on their already high levels of student satisfaction. In the National Student Survey 2016:

  • 87% of students at Russell Group universities were satisfied with their course
  • 88% were satisfied with teaching at their university
  • 89% found their course intellectually stimulating.

Our universities have also developed strategies to support the wellbeing of all students by significantly increasing investment in student mental health services.

Undergraduate funding

High-quality higher education (HE) needs sustainable funding. Increased undergraduate fees have been crucial to universities at a time when Government teaching grants have been cut and other budgets are stretched.

The benefits that graduates gain from their degrees mean that it is fair for them, as well as the taxpayer, to contribute to the cost. There are no up-front fees and a progressive student loan system, where repayments are only made when they are affordable. Maintenance loans are available for living costs alongside generous bursaries at many Russell Group universities for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

However, there is still an important role for Government in funding courses in science, technology, engineering, medicine and maths. These subjects, which require high-tech laboratories and equipment, are expensive to deliver but important to the future success of the UK economy.

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Postgraduate funding

Russell Group universities train 36% of all postgraduate students at UK universities, as well as 55% of postgraduate research students. Postgraduate students create new research and develop fresh knowledge. They will form the academic workforce of the future and so it is vital that they are supported by a sustainable and attractive funding system.

Our universities face fierce international competition, especially from US institutions that can provide high-quality facilities and generous financial packages. The introduction of student loan schemes in England for postgraduates is encouraging, as are reassurances that this will not create additional regulation or costs in the future.

A new regulatory framework

Significant reforms to HE regulation have been introduced through the Higher Education and Research Act 2017, including the creation of the Office for Students (OfS) and the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

The protection and promotion of students’ interests should be the key feature of the new regulatory framework, as discussed in our policy paper. This should include maintaining a robust baseline on quality, good governance and financial sustainability for all HE providers.

The UK needs a healthy HE sector and a significant priority for the OfS should be to support universities in providing high-quality staff, excellent research, links to businesses and local communities, and international partnerships and staff.

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