Types of Universities in the UK

Types of Universities in the UK

Tue Aug 29 2023 Effa Iqbal

The higher education system of the United Kingdom is a beacon of academic brilliance and tradition, spanning centuries of intellectual study and innovation.

The terminology used to classify these organizations may appear complex, but it represents a rich tapestry of history and change.

In this investigation, we’ll look at the numerous sorts of universities in the United Kingdom, each of which contributes something distinct to the country’s educational scene.
Types of UK universities

Ancient Universities: Forerunners of Education

Ancient universities are a prestigious group of institutions that precede the nineteenth century and maintain a special place in the academic world.

These institutions began as language and song training centers and became forerunners of contemporary education. They sowed the seeds of today’s research-driven literary culture by establishing liberal education.

Six revered ancient universities in the UK include:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Edinburgh

Red Brick Universities: Creating Change

The red brick universities emerged throughout the Industrial Revolution to emphasize scientific and engineering education.

Their contribution to development, sometimes known as civic universities, is outstanding. Their name comes from the architecture of their structures and the cities they live in, representing expansion and progress.

List of Red Brick University

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Reading
  • University of Nottingham

Plate Glass Universities: Modern Icons

In response to the Robbins report, which recognized a need for new colleges, the 1960s saw a surge of expansion.

Plate glass universities are distinguished by contemporary architecture and glass buildings. These universities evolved into hubs of creative learning, welcoming change and advancement.

Among the most prestigious plate glass universities are:

  • Aston University
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of Essex
  • University of Kent
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Warwick
  • University of York

Types of UK universities

New Universities: An Evolutionary Force

Polytechnic institutions were established in the 1970s and 1980s to train skilled labor in engineering, science, and technology.

They were later awarded full university status and continue to provide students with essential skills for the ever-changing work environment.

Notable new universities include:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Middlesex University
  • University of Northumbria
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Oxford Brookes University
  • University of Plymouth
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • University of Sunderland
  • University of the West of England Bristol

Read More:

ACCA-Certified Universities In The UK: Top Institutions For Finance Students

Modern Universities: Pushing the Boundaries of Innovation

Post-1992 institutions or universities awarded university status are classified as modern universities after that date.

Despite their youth, they are leaders in providing quality education through innovative teaching approaches.

Few of the modern Universities are

  • Anglia Ruskin University
  • Birmingham City University
  • University of Brighton
  • Coventry University
  • De Montfort University
  • University of Greenwich
  • University of Huddersfield
  • Leeds Beckett University

Continued Diversity

Other classifications, such as colleges of higher education, university colleges, and distinguished groups such as the Russell Group - a consortium of 20 research-intensive universities striving for academic excellence and cutting-edge research - supplement the UK’s educational landscape.

Universities in the United Kingdom exhibit a great range of history, purpose, and creativity. While diverse, each kind adds to the nation’s tradition of exceptional education and long-lasting intellectual study.

As you begin your academic journey, remember that the variety of possibilities represents the abundance of chances available to you at the United Kingdom’s prestigious educational institutions.

Colleges of Higher Education

Colleges of higher education play an essential role in providing education without the ability to grant degrees themselves by cooperating with partner universities.

These institutions serve as gateways for degrees conferred by their connections. Furthermore, they have the potential to grow into full-fledged universities.

Notable examples of colleges of higher education across the UK include:

  • Bell College, Hamilton & Dumfries
  • Burton College, Staffordshire
  • City College, Birmingham
  • Edinburgh College of Art, Edinburgh
  • Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, Glasgow
  • Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow
  • Hull York Medical School
  • Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication, London
  • Rose Bruford College, Sidcup
  • College of St. Mark & St. John, Plymouth
  • Scottish Agricultural College, Edinburgh
  • Wirral Metropolitan College
  • Writtle College, Chelmsford

University College

University colleges can issue taught degrees under their names but not research degrees. Many of these schools work with existing universities to provide research opportunities.

These institutions can aspire to full university status by contributing to higher education.

Eminent examples of university colleges within the UK include:

  • AECC University College, Bournemouth
  • University College Birmingham
  • Bishop Grosseteste University College, Lincoln
  • The Arts University College at Bournemouth
  • Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College, High Wycombe & Chalfont St Peter
  • University College for the Creative Arts at Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham, Maidstone & Rochester
  • Norwich University College of the Arts
  • St Mary’s University College, Twickenham, London

Russell Group Universities

The Russell Group is a cooperation of 20 prestigious research-intensive institutions in the United Kingdom.

These universities are dedicated to maintaining high educational standards, pioneering teaching methods, excellent student experiences, and world-class research outputs.

Beyond its distinct personalities, the Russell Group works together to provide students with an outstanding education.

Examples of Russel Group of Universities

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Cambridge
  • Cardiff University
  • University of Edinburgh
  • University of Glasgow
  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London (University of London)
  • University College London (University of London)
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
  • University of Manchester
  • Newcastle University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Oxford
  • Queen’s University Belfast
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of Southampton
  • University of Warwick

Diverse Educational Pathways for Evolving Excellence

While the Russell Group represents quality, other organizations such as the Million+ group, GuildHE, and University Alliance also provide high-quality education throughout the UK.

Each institution and organization contributes to the colorful academic mosaic, ensuring students are exposed to diverse educational experiences and possibilities.

Types of universities in UK


The United Kingdom’s educational environment stretches beyond traditional university kinds.

Exploring these several areas allows one to understand better the country’s dedication to education, research, and the pursuit of knowledge.

From historic universities to active modern institutions, each category represents a different chapter in the narrative of higher education in the United Kingdom.


What are ancient universities in the United Kingdom?

Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh are among the pre-19th century universities. They established the groundwork for current academic research.

What distinguishes red-brick universities?

Red brick institutions focused on scientific and engineering education during the Industrial Revolution. Their names are derived from their contemporary look and cities.

What exactly is the Russell Group?

The Russell Group comprises 20 premier research institutions in the United Kingdom committed to providing high-quality education, innovative teaching, and excellent research output. It serves as an unofficial regulating body.



Write a Comment

Image here
Enroll Now