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Russell Group

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Russell Group
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Russell Group

Data
Established 1994
Members 19
Continent Europe
Country United Kingdom
Leaders Chairman:
Michael Sterling, University of Birmingham
Executive Director:
Michael Carr, University of Liverpool

The Russell Group of universities is a self-selected group of large research-led British universities; 18 of its 19 members are in the top 20 in terms of research funding. It contains many of Britain's top universities.

Contents

Introduction

The group is often wrongly presented in the media as a kind of British Ivy League. This parallel is wrong on two counts. First, the Russell Group is not a comprehensive list of the best UK universities. Second, the Ivy League is not a comprehensive list of the best US universities. The Russell Group, a political lobby, does represent the interests of most of Britain's prestigious universities, although some smaller prestigious universities are left out. The Ivy League is a list of America's oldest univesities, not necessarily its best. Oxbridge is also a poor parallel to the Ivy League as it is too narrow. If a parallel is required, the H-Y-P (Harvard-Yale-Princeton) is the best US parallel for Oxbridge. The nearest parallel to the Ivy League are what are loosely termed Britain's ancient universities. However, there is no obvious US parallel to the Russell Group in the US. This is probably because most (but not all) of America's best universities are privately funded, so these institutions would not have the same interest in forming a lobby group as UK universities who are all state funded.

The Russell Group's purpose is to represent the views of their institutions (especially in lobbying government and parliament) and to commission reports to support their case. Its concerns are to lead the UK's research effort; to maximise income; to attract the best staff and students; to reduce government interference; and to exploit the universities' collaborative advantage.

Although not directly related to its purpose, the Russell Group is often taken in studies to be representative of prestigious universities. However, like the Ivy League, the Russell Group is not a comprehensive list of prestigious universities. It may surprise many non-Americans to know that the Ivy League does not include MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Caltech, Duke, University of Chicago, Georgetown, NYU, UCLA or even the university that receives the most federal research grants in the US, Johns Hopkins. By comparison, the Russell Group is much more representative of prestigious British universities. However, many (including journalists) fail to realise that the Russell Group does not include smaller prestigious institutions such as the Universities of York and Durham. Unlike the Ivy League, all of the Russell Group universities are state-funded.

The 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' Student Unions. Indeed, members of the group argued that even the fees proposed by the controversial Higher Education Bill would not be enough, and argued for the right to charge much higher so-called top-up fees. In response to this and other issues, the Student Unions of the Russell Group universities have formed the Aldwych Group.


The Russell group is so named because meetings took place at the Russell Hotel in Russell Square, London, generally shortly before meetings of Universities UK (formerly known as Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, or CVCP) in Tavistock Square. The group is chaired by Professor Michael Sterling, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham. The Group's Executive Director is Michael Carr, Registrar, The University of Liverpool.


Research funding

The Russell Group identifies itself as being 'an association of 19 major research-intensive universities', and this is seen to be true in terms of the research funding the member institutes receive.

In terms of total research funding in 1998/9, the top 17 were Russell Group institutions. Cardiff comes in at 19th, with non-Russell Group institutions Leicester at 18th and Queen Mary at 20th. Overall, the Russell Group had over 60% of the total research income of HE institutions in the UK. The LSE - which, though very elite, is very much out of place in the Russell Group in terms of its size - is down at 37th with less than half the research income of Cardiff, and the only Russell Group member not to make the top 20. However the LSE does no science, technology and medicine, and in its area of social science receives the most research income of any social science institution. In the government ratings it is usually ranked in the top two or three for quality. However the gap between the largest and smallest institutions in the Russell Group is huge. The so-called 'Golden Triangle' of institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, UCL, and Imperial College - the London institutions of UCL and Imperial forming a single point on the triangle) have 40% of the research income of the Russell Group, while Cardiff had less than a quarter of the income of fourth-placed Cambridge.

While funding levels have changed since this study, the general trend has been to concentrate research funding. In the tables for the 2004/5 research funding allocations from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), the top 15 universities are again all Russell Group institutions - the exception again being the LSE, which is 22nd (Cardiff, Glasgow and Edinburgh are not included in this table, not being English institutions). The Russell Group institutions received 65% of the total HEFCE research funding allocation, with the 'Golden Triangle' again accounting for over 40% of the Russell Group total. In Wales, Cardiff receives 49% of the total research grant, while in Scotland Glasgow and Edinburgh together receive just over 50% of the total. Due to different baseline funding levels, these are not directly comparable to the figures for England but if a comparison is made on this basis, then the three non-English institutions all fall within the range covered by the top 15 in England. A UK top-twenty composed on this basis would consist of the Russell Group institutions, less the LSE, and the Universities of Durham and York.

It should be noted that 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 (i.e. science, technology and medicine tend to attract more money).

The members

See also

External links

sv:Russell-gruppen zh:罗素大学集团

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