Which are the Red-Brick Universities? + List

Red-Brick Universities

Would you like to study at a royal university in one of the world’s most highly regarded university systems, the United Kingdom? Red brick universities were specialized institutions in the Victorian period that achieved autonomy and developed into full-fledged universities in their own right.

Suppose you wish to study at a university in the UK. In that case, you must know different types of universities and especially understand the difference between a red brick university and other universities.

This article will discuss the meaning of red brick university and their characteristics.

What is meant by a red-brick university?

Britain underwent massive transformations in the nineteenth century due to the industrial revolution. Technical and scientifically-minded workers were in high demand in the nation’s major cities to satisfy the needs of the emerging knowledge-based economy.

For this reason, several professions, such as medicine and engineering, now have specialized schools and private academies. This includes the Manchester Mechanics Institute (1824) and the Birmingham Medical School (1825).

During the Victorian period, these establishments flourished into significant hubs of learning and discovery because of their dedication to the pursuit of truth. Some of these colleges and universities eventually gained autonomy and became fully-fledged universities; for example, Birmingham Medical School developed into the University of Birmingham.

Most modern public colleges followed the Victorian fad of constructing their campuses in the Gothic style with red bricks. For this reason, colleges of this sort are sometimes referred to as “red brick” universities. The Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool inspired the word. Red brick colleges and universities tend to be found in major metropolitan areas with an extensive manufacturing history. What’s more, courses in fields like engineering and architecture, which have direct relevance to the actual world, are given more emphasis.

Are red-brick universities better? Should you attend one?

Existing British universities made fun of red brick colleges at first. The academic elite, especially ‘old’ institutions like Oxford and Glasgow, looked down on them. As a result, the phrase “red brick” began to be used in a pejorative sense (in other words, as an insult).

But things changed rapidly after that. Red brick universities in England are now consistently rated among the best in the world. Five founding institutions built on red brick are among the world’s top 100 universities.

Many firms prefer to hire people with degrees from red brick universities like Cambridge, Oxford, Glasgow, and Imperial since they are all part of the exclusive Russell Group.

So, many high school graduates assume that red brick, or Russell Group, colleges provide a superior education. On the other hand, there are a plethora of additional considerations. The most crucial factor is whether or not the school is well-known for the major you choose to pursue. The University of Strathclyde, for instance, is neither a member of the elite Russell Group nor a traditional red brick university. Yet, it is regarded as having one of the best engineering departments and business schools in the UK.

Other essential considerations include the university’s sports facilities, extracurricular activities, the cost of living in the vicinity, employment connections, and scholarship and bursary opportunities. Ultimately, it comes down to weighing these considerations against your circumstances to determine the best option.

How many red-brick universities are there in the UK?

Six universities were founded in the red brick tradition, and all were granted formal university status before the start of World War I. These institutions originated as specialized schools, and now you can find them scattered across England’s historic manufacturing towns.

What are the six red-brick universities?

Six colleges date back to the red brick era. You may find out more about each one by reading the following:

  • University of Birmingham: is characterized as a university that strongly emphasizes scholarly investigation. It was the first of the red brick institutions to be granted autonomous university status and is also a member of the Russell Group of universities.
  • University of Bristol: is a member of the Russell Group and a research-focused institution of higher education. It is located in the southwestern part of England.
  • University of Leeds: Northern England is home to the University of Leeds, a prestigious educational institution that is part of the prestigious Russell Group.
  • University of Liverpool: One of the universities that makes up the Russell Group, the University of Liverpool can be found in the port city of Liverpool in the northwest region of England.
  • University of Manchester: is the most populous educational institution in the United Kingdom to be located on a single campus. It is a participant in the illustrious Russell Group of institutions.
  • University of Sheffield: was established in 1897 and is now a participant in the Russell Group of prestigious educational institutions. It is located in the northern part of England.
University Subjects Ranked in the Top Ten UK Ranking TEF rating Size
University of Birmingham Dentistry, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Social Work, Hospitality, Languages, and 19 other subjects 13 Gold 34,000
University of Bristol Sociology, Veterinary Medicine, Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering, Psychology, and ten other subjects 14 Silver 25,955
University of Leeds Food Science, Communication & Media Studies, Geology, Music, Art & Design, and 12 other subjects 16 Gold 36,250
University of Manchester Drama, Dance & Cinematics, Nursing, Physics & Astronomy, English, French, German, and 15 other subjects 17 Silver 40,250
University of Nottingham Social Policy, Creative Writing, Chemical Engineering, East & South Asian Studies, and nine other subjects 20 Gold 33,540
Newcastle University Architecture, Creative Writing, Agriculture & Forestry, Dentistry, and eight other subjects 23 Gold 37,946
University of Sheffield History, Optometry, Opthalmology & Orthoptics, Civil Engineering, and nine other subjects 28 Silver 30,195
University of Liverpool Occupational Therapy, Chemistry, Nursing, and four other subjects 33 Silver 30,000

Britannia StudyLink says that the following are also often thought of as red brick universities in the UK:

  • University of Nottingham: A member of the prestigious Russell Group, the University of Nottingham was established in 1948.
  • University of Reading: situated in the south of England, it is home to the historically significant University of Reading, which was granted university status in 1926.
  • Newcastle University: Northeast England is home to the Russell Group institution that bears the name Newcastle University.

They also say that the term was first used to talk about the first six universities, but now it is mainly used to talk about universities in the UK that were started between the early 1900s and the 1960s.

Is Exeter a red brick university?

Exeter is part of the Russell Group, which comprises 24 best universities in the UK. These universities are all committed to doing the best research, having the best teachers and students, and having the best connections with businesses and the government.

Is Oxford a red brick university?

Oxford University is also a member of Russell Group University and is not an original red brick university.

Is Cambridge a red brick university?

Cambridge University is a member of Russell Group and not a red brick university.

Red brick universities vs. Russell Group

Students sometimes use the words “Russell Group” and “Red Brick University” interchangeably. However, these two sets of institutions are separate and have different meanings.

Edgar Allison Peers, who taught Spanish at the University of Liverpool, coined the word “redbrick.” It dates back to the late 1800s and early 1900s when Britain became more industrialized. Because of this movement, the government realized it needed to make it easier for people in industrial cities to go to college and compete with Oxford and Cambridge, which were already well-known and respected.

On the other hand, the Russell Group is a group of 24 top universities dedicated to research and high academic standards. Most of the essential research in the world comes from these universities in the UK. The group was made after the Redbrick Universities, and some traditional institutions are also part of it.

Most of the Red Brick Institutions are also members of the Russell Group. The Russell Group has several other institutions not regarded as Red Brick Universities, which is the primary distinction between the two groupings. Red Brick Institutions referred to when the universities received their Royal Charter. Therefore, this is not in any way a negative thing.

So, what distinguishes Russell Group universities from Red Brick universities? It refers to two distinct sets of institutions founded for different purposes. However, given that most Red Brick Universities also belong to the Russell Group, it is only sometimes valid that one is superior to the other. Russell Group universities have huge effects on the local community, the UK, and the rest of the world regarding social, economic, and cultural issues.

  • They are responsible for more than two-thirds of the world-class research done in UK universities and support more than 260,000 jobs across the country.
  • They add about £87 billion to the economy of the UK every year.
  • In the 2018–19 school year, 446,450 undergraduates and 155,655 postgraduates were at a Russell Group university.

Check out this list of all the universities in the Russel Group.

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • Durham University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • London School of Economics (LSE)
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen Mary University of London
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University College London
  • University of Warwick
  • Univerity of York

Are all red bricks a Russell Group University?

Yes, the six original red brick institutions are also members of the Russell Group, renowned for its innovative research.

Best non-red brick universities UK

Consider the most recent Complete University Guide rankings: six of the top 10 institutions are members of the Russell Group (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial, Durham, and UCL), whereas the other four are not (St Andrews, Loughborough, Lancaster, and Bath).

Choosing the proper college or university is a very individual process. You may trust Russell Group universities’ standing, but there is much more to consider than a school’s choice to join a lobbying organization. It would be best if you assumed the university’s reputation in the field you’re interested in entering, its academic programs’ quality, the tuition affordability, and the safety of its neighborhood, among other things.


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