"If you draw it down to the teaching, it is not necessarily the case that they are the best"

Amatey Doku went to Cambridge University where he studied Human Social and Political Sciences but specialised in Sociology. In this interview, Amatey gives his opinion, as an ex-student, on diversity in Russell Group Universities and whether they are really the best in the country.

"I think in general we live in a society where Russell Group universities tend to have better outcomes for students – interestingly if you look at the data; it is more actually about the student’s background as opposed to where they actually go to university. So students from more disadvantaged backgrounds – even if they go to a Russell Group – still struggle when they go to university. What is interesting is that lots of universities are getting better at employability and there is no guaranty that the Russell Group will be able to maintain that."

"I think particularly places like Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Exeter, Bristol – those universities, in particular, are not very diverse."

"I think they just need to get better at outreach. I think they need to get much better at making sure their participation programs are reaching those students from different backgrounds. They also need to look at contextual admission; so that’s where you alter your entry requirements if you think that actually a student is good enough,  but for whatever reason, they haven’t got the grades that reflect them. So I think that’s quite important."

"The other thing is that actually the reputation of the Russell Group as the best universities in the country – they have just held on to that because they are in this group. Actually, if you draw it down to the teaching, it is not necessarily the case that they are the best. There are things they are good at, and what they are good at is research. But actually, when it comes to teaching, lots of other newer universities are much better at teaching."

"So I think as more universities start to assert themselves and say, “Actually, you know what? We’re quite good” and if you want to do research you go to a Russel Group and if you want to do something which involves more teaching you go to one of those universities;  then they’ll naturally even themselves out. They will become more diverse and actually, you won't have that hierarchy in the system where it’s like ‘Russell Group versus everyone else’ – actually you just go to the best university for you based on what you want to do."

By Lauren Cudjoe