UK Universities

This covers universities, old and new, whose primary purpose is to educate students to the highest possible level in the world. Generally speaking, if you are on a course which awards a university degree, you are in Higher Education. You do not necessarily actually have to be at a university, as some Further Education colleges teach courses which result in degrees awarded by a university.

What are Ancient, Red-Brick and New Universities?

You may see or hear these terms as you read through the literature or talk to people about UK universities. In a nutshell, the “ancient” universities are Oxford, Cambridge, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh, St. Andrews and Dublin, and were basically setup many hundreds of years ago.
There were originally six “Red-Brick” universities, so called, believe it or not, because they were built with red bricks. They were Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool, Manchester and Sheffield. They were established to train people in industrial cities during the 19th century. Since then there have been many additions notably; Nottingham, Leicester, Southampton, Exeter, Hull, Newcastle, many of the institutions that make up the University of Wales and some of the University of London Colleges.
Many of the “new” universities were Polytechnics which all became universities in 1992. For more info on the differences, you can email or ring your local GetSet office and ask an advisor.

What’s the difference between established and New Universities?

Since it is now nearly 20 years since the polytechnics were upgraded to university status, most prefer the term “modern” university.

Education reforms in 1992 turned all the polytechnics into universities at one stroke as the government decided that it made sense to bring polytechnics into the university world as the distinction between universities and polytechnics was becoming blurred.

So what are the differences between “new” and “established” universities? The differences are really in focus rather than quality. Established universities were always and for the most part still are, research led with a very academic focus. For this reason, in 1838, the first polytechnic, the Royal Polytechnic Institution (now University of Westminster) was established for the purpose of teaching applied education for work and career. The new, or modern universities, with their roots more in teaching than in research, can therefore score as high in the Government’s Teaching Quality Assessment and in many cases, particularly business subjects, higher than the established universities. For research however, this is not normally the case as established universities will mostly out perform the “new” universities and hence, they will always appear in the top half of the unofficial university ranking lists that appear each year in the leading UK newspapers.

GetSet advisors are very familiar with the academic rankings of UK universities, as well as their general reputations with employers and other universities for each subject, and will be happy to advise you as to the right choice for your particular circumstances.

How can I find more information about UK universities?

To find out more about universities in the UK contact you nearest GetSet centre by emailing or calling us.

To see a full listing of all the UK universities go here