StudyAdvantage Magazine

Red Brick Universities – the New Elite in UK Higher Education

Published: January 4, 2017

University of Birmingham 1


Born out of the great, British industrialization of the late 19th and early 20th century, the UK’s “Red Brick Universities” rearranged the playing field of higher education. A new political conscience caused by rapid urbanization put pressure on the government to improve the access to higher education and to challenge the traditional elitism of the older, more conservative institutions (see Oxford and Cambridge). This movement sparked the establishment of some of today’s most notable British higher education institutions.

For those looking for a traditional British student experience – look no further. Scattered across the UK’s old industrial hubs, these 6 Red Brick Universities provide the spitting image of a British student experience. All large in size, these schools offer a plethora of high quality academic degree programs, as well as some of the most vivid student clubs, societies and events in the country. They are also home to a high number of international students – both those seeking a full degree as well as exchange students.

StudyAdvantage has taken a closer look at the six universities, to help you make the right decision.



University of Manchester

University of Manchester has nearly 40,000 students, placing it among the biggest – and most resourceful – schools in the country. No matter your interests, you’ll be sure to find something of relevance at this powerful establishment.

Among the many perks of being a student at this university is the fact that it is located in a major UK city, with offers much of the likes of London, but at a fraction of the price.


University of Birmingham

The first of all Red Brick Universities – University of Birmingham is located only a short bus ride outside the UK’s second city. The university boasts the best drama program in the nation, internationally renowned medical research and among the country’s greatest sports facilities.

With 34,000 students, the university of Birmingham is also among the larger schools in the UK, and offers a wide range of academic programs.


University of Liverpool

Rumored to be the UK’s most affordable city, Liverpool is home to not only one, but four great universities (with the University of Liverpool being the most prestigious). This creates a uniquely student friendly environment in a large city. This also means that there is an endless amount of student events and gatherings around the city on a daily basis. Entertaining AND affordable, what more could a student possibly ask for in a university?


University of Leeds

Traditionally strong within the engineering and languages disciplines, University of Leeds nowadays offers more than 500 different academic programs to its 31,000 students. Located in the city of Leeds, students enjoy a vibrant music scene and a buzzing nightlife. Combined with its strong academic reputation and research velocity, this makes it a very attractive destination for international students.


University of Sheffield

Just east of Manchester is the University of Sheffield, a large and research intensive Red Brick University. It conducts some of the most impressive research nationwide together with corporate research partners such as Unilever, Rolls Royce and Boeing. This also, of course, helps facilitate excellent employment opportunities to its graduates.

A vibrant student life, a large international student population and affordable living costs are other attractions.


University of Bristol

Located in the pleasant, west coast city of Bristol is one of the UK’s top 15 universities. This university schooled a long line of prominent theatre- and film personalities, as it was the first school to open a faculty fully focused on drama already in 1946. The school’s roster of flagship programs also includes Medicine, Law, Mathematics and Engineering.

The school attracts a rather large number of international students, and offers a very traditional British student experience.


Interested in studying in the UK? Check out these articles about student life at some of the UK’s best universities:

Remarkable Student Societies: A Cappella Groups

EU Applicants – Now Is The Time To Apply for UK Universities


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