What is a red brick university?

Many people, especially prospective international students, are not aware of what is a red brick university. In this article we will look at what they are and what it means for you.

What is a red brick university?

The term red brick university originates from when a number of specialist institutions gained independent university status during the Victorian era (late 18th - early 19th centuries). The reason they are called this is because of the style of brickwork common at that time. To be precise, the term was inspired by the Victoria Building of the University of Liverpool. Red brick universities are mainly located in large cities that have an industrial past. Furthermore, they focus more on subjects relating to the real world (applied subjects) for example engineering and architecture.

Are red brick universities the same as Russell Group universities?

Students tend to confuse the terms “Russell Group” and “Red Brick University” and use it interchangeably. However, these are two different groups of universities having distinct meanings. Have a look at our Russell Group Universities article for more information regarding it. It is important to note here that a university can be part of both groups (i.e. it can be a red brick university as well as a Russell Group university, e.g. University of Birmingham).

Which universities are red brick universities?

There are six original red brick universities. You can learn more about each one below:

University of Birmingham - The University of Birmingham is a research-intensive university. It is part of the Russell Group as well and was the first of the red brick universities to gain independent university status.

University of Bristol - The University of Bristol is a research-intensive university, also part of the Russell Group. It is located in southwest England.

University of Leeds - The University of Leeds is a member of the Russell Group of universities, located in northern England.

University of Liverpool - The University of Liverpool is a member of the Russell Group, located in the maritime city of Liverpool in northwest England.

University of Manchester - The University of Manchester is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of universities and is the largest single-site university in the country.

University of Sheffield - The University of Sheffield was founded in 1897 and is also a member of the Russell Group of universities. It is located in northern England.

Later red brick universities

University of Reading - The University of Reading gained university status in 1926 and is located in the historical southern English town of Reading.

University of Nottingham - The University of Nottingham is a Russell Group university founded in 1948.

Newcastle University - Newcastle University is a Russell Group university based in northeast England.

Are red brick universities better than other universities?

It is important to note that the six original red brick universities are also part of the Russell Group, which is a group of prestigious research-intensive universities. While choosing a university, many students believe that red brick, or Russell Group, universities offer a better quality of degree. However, there are many other factors that you should consider. Foremost is whether the university is renowned for the course you want to study. For example, the University of Strathclyde ranks as one of the top in the UK for engineering and its Business School, but it is not a Russell Group or a red brick university.

Other factors include the tuition fee costs, scholarships, bursaries, living costs of the area, employer links of the university, and sports facilities and extracurricular activities. Essentially, it is about balancing these factors against your requirements and choosing the one which best suits your needs!

Whether you are interested in applying to a red brick university or one of the many other top quality universities in the UK, get in touch with our team who will be able to assist you!

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Haider Shah
Haider is a graduate in business management and has a strong interest in written content creation
Published on 1 February 2022
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