The Russell Group, established in 1994, is an association of UK universities focused on the development and creation of research, as well as attracting the best staff and most funding. The group is so named because its first informal meetings took place in London's Hotel Russell. Currently, Russell Group universities receive over two-thirds of all funding allocated for research to UK universities. Russell Group universities are typically ranked high in the league tables and so have large amounts of applications each year.
Initially, the Russell Group only included universities in England; now universities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are also included. Recruiters from investment banks, accountancy firms, I.T firms and law firms statistically favour Russell Group graduates.
There are currently 24 members of the Russell Group:
In terms of employment, those working at the top firms will often prefer you to have come from a Russell Group university - though you will rarely be excluded from their application process if you have not, providing you have a good degree and plenty of work experience. There are fears about a growing stigma surrounding universities that are not part of the Russell Group, especially by those universities that rank at the same level or above some of their Russell Group peers.
The requirements for the Russell Group universities will depend on which university you are applying for, but will typically require higher grades at A-Level, starting from ABB and going up to A*AA. However, as with all universities, they will admit with special circumstances, and so your admission will depend on the university you are applying for.
For more information on the Russell Group check out their website and for more information on career routes read these articles: