The standard of education offered by UK universities is recognised all around the world for being high quality. There are 170 universities in the UK, each offering its own individual benefits and courses. In 2010 19 of the top 100 universities in the world were in the UK. The league tables for UK universities are measured by several different criteria, including student satisfaction, the number of first and upper second degrees achieved and the employment prospects of their graduates. The top twenty universities rated in the UK make up the Russell Group, given its name because the Vice Chancellors would meet up for tea and cakes at the Russell Hotel in Russell Square in London! These include Oxford, Cambridge, Birmingham and Liverpool. Even though these universities only make up 12% of the universities in the UK they receive a massive two thirds of the research grants and contract funding in the UK.
However, although certain universities may not be high in the league tables for individual courses they may still rank very highly. For example Queen Marys University in London is the highest in the UK for Drama, Dance and Cinematics but is 35th in the league tables. The number of students applying for places at Russell universities is huge, with 75,000 applying in 2010 alone. It is estimated that there are now about ten people applying for each place! In 2010 there were over 680,000 applicants to UK universities, and only 500,000 of these people received a place. When applying to university students are often tempted to apply for those higher in the league tables, although the demand to get a place is so high it can often be very difficult, even with good grades. Students should consider looking at other universities too, and seeing where the course they want to do ranks in the league tables, it may be a lot higher than originally thought!