What is a 'plate glass' university?

You may have heard of the ‘Russell Group’ and, maybe, ‘red brick’ universities, but have you heard of ‘plate glass’ universities? It’s not a phrase that is widely used but you may come across it when researching universities in the UK. So, let’s take a look at what it means.

Plate glass universities are universities that were established in the 1960s. They tend to be universities with a strong focus on engineering and technology programmes although most are also highly reputable in social sciences, humanities and the arts.

Why are plate glass universities called plate glass universities?

The term plate glass university was coined by Michael Beloff (a human rights barrister). It describes the modern architecture which was different to that of existing universities (which were built in the Victorian era or earlier).

Which universities are plate glass universities?

There were seven original plate glass universities and these are: the University of Sussex, University of East Anglia, Lancaster University, University of Essex, University of Kent, University of York, and University of Warwick.

In 2016, the Department for Education expanded the list and added a number of other institutions that were previously known as Colleges of Advanced Technology (CATs), which were awarded their university status between the 1960s and 1992. These universities are: Aston University; University of Bath; University of Bradford; Brunel University; University of Buckingham; City University, London; Heriot-Watt University; Keele University; Loughborough University; Newcastle University; Open University; University of Salford; University of Dundee; University of Stirling; University of Strathclyde; University of Surrey and University of Ulster.

Are plate glass universities well regarded?

Yes, plate glass universities are well regarded. Majority of the institutions classed as ‘plate glass’ regularly find themselves within the top 50 universities in the UK. The University of Warwick finds itself as the highest ranked plate glass university at number 6 on the Guardian’s Best UK universities 2022 rankings with other universities occupying the list too.

They are all research intensive universities with University of York, University of Warwick and Newcastle University being members of the Russell Group.

Should I choose a plate glass university for my studies?

All plate glass universities have a strong academic reputation and studying at one could be the right option for you. However, there are many other top class universities in the UK so you should put your chosen subject at the forefront and make sure you're applying to the best university for your chosen subject. You should also consider other factors such as the cost of living, entry requirements, tuition fees, location etc.

If you have any questions about applying to a plate glass university or any other UK university, our team would be happy to help. Get in touch with our team

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Kimberley Dhliwayo
Kimberley is a graduate in fashion marketing and journalism from London Metropolitan University
Published on 25 January 2022
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