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How to get a place at a Russell Group university

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As you should know, the Russell Group is an association of the UK’s 24 elite research universities. The most popular ones include Oxford and Cambridge, not forgetting others like Leeds, Warwick, York and King’s College London.

I myself applied for university last year, and included one of the Russell Group into my top five, the University of Sheffield. Little did I know that I would actually be successful to receive an offer, where here I am a year later about to start at a Russell Group university! Here are some tips for when you’re applying.

Grades, grades, grades

Because of how research-intensive these institutions are, they often want the best students, so if you’re thinking of applying to any of the 24 institutions, please check the requirements carefully. Most of them will expect ABB+. Even if you’re not predicted that, or maybe BBB or ABC – there would be no harm in applying. Some courses are less difficult to get into, so they may still offer you a place, and a few of these institutions will go into clearing and adjustment in August. So if you’re achieving decent grades, definitely apply!


Definitely go and visit the university before you apply. Although they’re supposed to be the best universities, they may not appeal to you. A friend of mine wasn’t a fan of the old prestigious Russell Group universities, where she much preferred the more modern institutions. Also, make sure you get your UCAS application in as early as possible.

Work hard

If you do receive an offer from a Russell Group, work hard. Work very hard! I lost my social life in Year 13 since receiving my offer in November last year. You’ll regret it if not! It’ll all be worth it when you receive the best news possible on results day. Applying to either Oxford or Cambridge is also much different to the other institutions, especially as all courses require you to go for an interview, with the majority requiring admissions tests – so bear that in mind, too.

Don’t be scared

Just because they’re in the Russell Group, don’t be afraid to email or call admissions or course professionals during the application process. Everyone is so helpful and they care so much about their reputation and future, current and past students. They’re not grumpy and stuck up like I was told just over a year ago when I mentioned I was going to apply to one!

Follow the tips above and you’ll be on the way to success. Good luck!

Are you going to apply to a Russell Group university? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Bethan / Flickr

Nadene ChandlerHow to get a place at a Russell Group university

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