We recently ranked the worst to best Russell Group universities: but what about the best non-Russell Group universities? After all, it’s not all about Oxbridge. In fact, there are plenty of good non-Russell Group universities to study at in the UK. What’s more, many of these boast higher levels of student satisfaction, student diversity and most importantly, lower entry requirements. So, if you aren’t quite sure where to study or you’re simply keen to know where your university stands, then read on. These are the best non-Russell Group universities: Ranked.

11. Royal Holloway 

In position eleven of the best non-Russell Group universities is Royal Holloway. This London university boasts extremely high levels of student satisfaction and graduate prospects. The university has 25 academic departments with degree options ranging from the arts to economics and law. One of the reasons students choose this uni is that it’s extremely career-focused.

In fact, employability skills are taught throughout the degree, with support from the Careers Service available to students even after they graduate. What’s more, Royal Holloway is undoubtedly one of the prettiest university campuses in the UK. It’s no surprise that it’s been used as a filming location for plenty of popular movies and television series.

Royal Holloway, The best non-Russell Group universities
Source: Royal Holloway

10. University of Strathclyde

Next up on our list and in spot number ten is the University of Strathclyde. This Glasgow University is one of the largest in the UK and has one of the best reputations among non-Russell Group universities. It scores incredibly highly in key factors such as student satisfaction, student to staff ratio, academic services spend and graduate prospects.

9. Swansea University

Following on we have Swansea University in Wales, a university that boasts a gorgeous bayside campus and a great reputation. Swansea is a research-led university and is well known for its high-quality degrees in subjects such as Engineering and Business. Likewise, it has high levels of student satisfaction (its Student Union has 150+ societies and more than 60 sports teams on campus.) Therefore, Swansea really does seem to have it all.

8. University of Dundee

Next up, the University of Dundee bodes incredibly well in the university rankings list. Factors it scores highly in include entry standards and student satisfaction. With over 200 different undergraduate degree combinations on offer, and with a range of scholarships to help undergraduate students achieve the most from their studies, it’s no wonder that the University of Dundee has made it up so high on to our list.

University of Dundee The best non-Russell Group universities
Source: Wikipedia

7. University of Essex

In position number seven on our list is the University of Essex. This university is one of the most diverse in the UK and great for international students. In fact, Essex’s student body represents over 140 nationalities and supports over 30 different cultural societies. What’s more, students at this uni are encouraged to learn a foreign language alongside their studies. It offers degrees in subjects ranging from politics to social sciences.

6. Herriot-Watt university

Next up is Edinburgh based university, Herriot-Watt. This uni has a history of quality teaching and practical research dating from 1821 and it’s still one of the most well-regarded universities today. The degrees that Heriot-Watt specialises in include business, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and fashion. Likewise, it’s a great university for international students or those wanting to study abroad. In fact, the uni has five campuses including sites in Malaysia, with over 1,200 students, and Dubai, with nearly 4,000 students.

The best non-Russell group universities: Herriot Watt University
Source: Herriot Watt university

5. University of East Anglia

Following on and in position number five is the University of East Anglia (UEA). This uni is a highly-ranked campus university with arguably one of the prettiest university campuses– It’s set in acres of beautiful parkland on the outskirts of the thriving city of Norwich. It has incredibly high levels of student satisfaction and offers degrees in everything from climate change to health sciences and creative writing. There is lots to do outside of studying for students, with over 200 societies and one of the best sports centres in the country.

4. Lancaster university 

Lancaster graduates are regarded highly by employers which is undoubtedly why it scores so highly for graduate prospects. It is great for local and international students alike. In fact, the university welcomes students from over 100 countries to its Lancaster campus. Likewise, it has partnerships with institutions in 24 countries. Therefore this is great for uni students wanting to study, travel and volunteer abroad.

3. University of Bath

Now, we are into the top three and next up we have the University of Bath. This beautiful campus university is highly regarded by employers due to its high standards of teaching and emphasis on practical work experience. It ranks in the first position in the UK for Architecture and Criminology and second for Psychology, Sports Science and Sociology. Its high levels of student support are also a reason why it ranks so highly on our list.

The best non-Russell group universities: University of Bath
Source: Bath university

2. Loughborough university

Following on in our list of the best non-Russell group universities is Loughborough. This reputable University has a campus spread over a vast 440-acre green site that is among beautiful gardens and open spaces. We can think of worse places to study… The uni offers a wide range of degrees and is particularly well known for its sports-related subjects. In fact, Loughborough is home to the world’s largest university-based sports technology research group.

1. University of St Andrews

Drumroll, please… In position one, we have the University of St Andrews. One of the oldest universities in the world, St Andrews boasts high-quality teaching, a diverse student population and flexible degree options. It’s a great university for international students with over 140 countries represented in the student body. Despite offering a broad range of subjects, this Scottish university excels in Theology, Divinity and Religious studies.

This non Russell group university has an 85% student satisfaction rate – with just 10,000 students, it’s a relatively small university – of which 2,000 of those are post grads. This non Russell group university has also been highlighted as one of the best uk universities to study English Literature and Psychology. Sure, it might not be a Russell group uni, but St Andrews certainly has a lot more to offer.

The best non-Russell group universities; University of St Andrews
Source: University of St Andrews

Which are the best Russell Group universities compared to non-Russell Group unis?

It’s difficult to say which are the best Russell Group unis as they’re all pretty good. Bu here’s a list of Russell group universities in our list of ‘best to worst’ ranked.

Here is a list of a few other Russell group universities:

  • Leeds University
  • Birmingham University
  • York University
  • Edinburgh University
  • Sheffield University


So, there you have it. Those are the best non-Russell group universities in the UK. Be sure to check out our list of the most popular degrees too if you aren’t’ quite sure what to study at university.

Whether it matters or not depends on your career goals and personal preferences. Many employers value the skills and knowledge you gain, regardless of whether your university is part of the Russell Group. It's important to choose a university that fits your needs and aspirations.

The Russell Group is a network of 24 leading UK universities renowned for their research, academic achievement, and teaching. Non-Russell Group universities may not have the same focus on research but can offer high-quality teaching and other unique strengths.

The perception of Russell Group universities being better is subjective and depends on various factors. They are often renowned for their research and academic reputation, but this does not necessarily mean they are the best choice for every student or every subject.

London is home to several universities, and a number of them are non-Russell Group institutions. These include University of the Arts London and Royal Holloway. 

The University of Essex is noted as one of the top non-Russell Group universities for law, as it makes the top 10 in certain rankings, such as the Times Higher Education’s 2023 list.

Yes! The University of Glasgow is a world top 100 university and a member of the Russell Group.