The Russell hustle

August 6, 2015

You rightly take Michael Gove to task for being besotted by the Russell Group (The week in higher education, 23 July), but you fall into a similar trap in the same issue (“They would walk 500 miles”, Features). In the league tables that they so closely identify with, some Russell Group universities occupy lower places than universities outside the group (and always have done). The group’s origins were in breakfasts at the Hotel Russell before meetings of the Universities Funding Council to plot a common strategy for universities with medical schools, which met with some success. The group’s subsequent triumph owes more to a very professional and extremely expensive lobbying and advertising campaign than to the intrinsic worth of all its members. But it is a campaign that busy politicians and journalists fall for all too easily.

Norman Gowar
London

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