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Types of universities in Britain: 5 types discovered

 Did you know that there are 5 types of universities in the UK including universities dating back to 1096? Find it out in this article!

The United Kingdom has long been known for its education system all over the world due to the number of top-ranked universities it has in addition to the quality of living conditions and the openness there, attracting large numbers of international students every year. Therefore, choosing the best among the 130 universities in the United Kingdom is a difficult task, especially as it consists of universities that are thousands of years old and very modern universities. There is certainly a university for everyone in the UK.

So what are the types of universities in the UK?

If you are thinking of studying in the UK, you should know that there are 5 types of universities in the UK that we review in detail in this article.

First, what are the old universities in Britain?

The ancient universities in Britain are the universities that date back to the Middle Ages and the Renaissance from 1096 to 1582 and are still in existence today! These universities contain lecture halls and corridors in buildings that are hundreds of years old. Due to its historical nature, it still offers tutorials in addition to lectures to help students connect with faculty in small, separate learning groups.

The following are examples of old universities and year of establishment:

List of member universities

Year Founded

Oxford university1096
Cambridge University1209
St Andrews University1413
University of Glasgow1451
University of Aberdeen1495
University of Edinburgh1582
University of Dublin (in Ireland)1592

2- Red brick universities or civil universities

Red brick universities were established in the nineteenth century during World War I in major industrial cities in response to the growing demand for university study in fields such as science, design, technology and engineering. These civil institutions were in their infancy non-university institutions, and they accepted students from their inception without regard to religion or social background, but rather focused on teaching them real life skills.

Even today, the attractiveness of these universities lies in their location, and they are built in the middle of cities on uneventful campuses (sometimes with public roads running through them). All six red brick universities are also part of the Russell Group universities and are the most preferred by international students.

What are the six red brick universities?

The following table shows the six red brick universities and their year of accreditation as a university:

the university

accreditation year

University of Birmingham1900
University of Bristol1909
University of Leeds1904
University of Liverpool1903
University of Manchester2004*
University of Sheffield1905

*Formed by the closure of the University of Victoria and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology

3 - Glass panel universities or 1960s universities

These universities were formed between 1963 and 1992 on the recommendation of the Robbins Report on Higher Education (1963) and as part of education reforms to increase the number of universities in the United Kingdom. These universities were so advanced that they took new initiatives in the areas of curricula, examinations, administration, teaching methods, and discipline. These are known as the Glass Panel Collection because of their architectural style and because most of them are built on green field sites such as the American-style campus sites.

List of member universities

University ranking year

Aston University1966
University of East Angila1963
University of Essex1964-65
University of Kent1965
Lancaster University1964
University of Sussex1961
University of Warwick1965
York University1963

4 - New Universities or Polytechnic and Metropolitan Universities

These universities evolved from polytechnics, further education colleges, teacher training colleges, university colleges and other higher education institutions as part of education reforms between the 1980s and 1990s. Although they were recently classified as universities, their educational roots are ancient. These universities are also developing rapidly and compete with other old institutions in terms of new facilities and modern appearance.

Examples of new universities and their majors include:

the university

capabilities and specializations

Arden UniversitySpecializing in Distance learning and Online. Focuses mainly on the study of business and related matters
Cardiff Metropolitan UniversityThe most popular study programs include tourism management and food technology
University of ChichesterIt is best known for its media studies, production programs, and music composition programs
Plymouth Margon UniversityThe university's departments of education, creative arts, health sciences, and sports have an excellent reputation
University College BirminghamAt the undergraduate level, tourism, events and hospitality management programs are very popular

5- Russell Group Universities

The Russell Group is made up of the 24 best research universities in Britain, which are often compared to Ivy league institutions. The group is known for receiving two thirds of research grant funding from the government and its member universities are often considered the 'best' in the UK.

The group also includes some old universities, 19th-century universities, and a few well-known civic universities, including:

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • Cambridge University
  • Cardiff University
  • Durham University

Find out the full list of Russell Group and how to apply

What is the best type of UK university for you?

While deciding on the right university, review the university's offerings according to your needs and desires. Each type of these UK universities will have a different advantage. For example, older universities require above-average grades, which can be overwhelming for students who aren't ready for hard work. Similarly, Russell Group universities focus on social wellbeing, research and offer outstanding programs of study, while the newer universities are an excellent starting point for networking professionally and personally as you learn about your interests.

We understand that searching through everything on your own can be stressful, and you may feel even more overwhelmed. But don't worry, our international education experts can guide you in finding the right educational institution for you. You can now connect online with our consultants and book a free counseling session to get guidance in your available time.

Or book your appointment now with one of our certified consultants .

Why might the UK be your dream study destination?