Education

Russell Group universities provide an outstanding education for their students, helping them to learn the skills they need to enter the workforce and succeed in both their professional and social lives. Since Covid-19, our universities are set to lead the way in blended learning – where online activities and assessments can augment face-to-face classes - while maintaining teaching excellence and supporting all students to achieve their potential, whatever their background.

Our focus is on academic excellence at all levels. One of the real benefits of a Russell Group education is the strong link we make between our cutting-edge research and teaching. It means students are never far away from leaders in their fields and most students will have an opportunity to undertake research-based activities. It also means students have access to the other ingredients of a high quality education such as outstanding lab facilities, libraries and collections, innovative learning spaces and online materials.

Our universities’ graduates go on to work in key sectors across the UK ensuring employers are able to recruit from a highly skilled and talented workforce. More than 80% of Britain’s doctors and dentists are trained at Russell Group universities as well as roughly half of mathematics and physical sciences graduates.

Teaching in England is funded by a combination of student fees topped up with a government grant administered by the sector regulator the Office for Students. In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland higher education funding is administered through different channels such as the Scottish Funding Council and Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) which pays fees for Scottish Students. In Wales, government funding is distributed by Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and in Northern Ireland by its Department for the Economy.

Tuition fees can also vary in each country of the United Kingdom. In England, students are expected to pay £9,250 a year in tuition with international students paying more, except those coming from the EU and starting courses this academic year – they are eligible for the same fees as English students. In Scotland, Scottish students do not pay university tuition fees but students from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland studying in Scotland can pay fees of up to £9,250. In Wales, fees are capped at £9,000. In Northern Ireland, fees are capped at £9,250 except for residents of Northern Ireland who will pay £4,275.

One of our key challenges across the UK is the cost of delivering our high-quality teaching and the outstanding learning experience students expect. While this is a particular issue for STEM subjects that often lead to high value returns for students, it is also an issue for SHAPE (Social science, humanities and arts for people and the economy) subjects too, which are typically taught in smaller groups and have significant benefits for the economy and society.

The Russell Group’s goal is to continue working with the Government and research funders to make the case for quality teaching to be funded more sustainably to maintain the academic excellence our members are renowned for.

Read our briefing on the Augur report on higher education funding

How Russell Group universities work with the regulator

English universities are regulated by the Office for Students (OfS) which is tasked with looking out for students' interests. Universities in Scotland are regulated by the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) in Wales, and the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland.

University performance is measured in a variety of ways. In England, universities are rated from gold to bronze in the OfS’s Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Across the Russell Group, 10 universities are rated gold, 10 silver and 1 bronze reflecting the high quality of student experience at our institutions.

Another data set the Government has started to publish recently is called ‘LEO’, which stands for Longitudinal Educational Outcomes and looks at what graduates in England earn in their jobs a number of years after leaving university. Russell Group universities are often amongst the highest-ranking overall institutions in LEO. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, Russell Group graduates earn 10% more than their peers even when factors such as class, ethnicity and GCSE results are taken into account.

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