What is a red-brick university?

What is a red-brick university?

Sign up for blog updates and get an instant 10% off code for NCC Home Learning courses.

Are you interested in going to university? There are so many choices out there, but some have a bit of character by being red brick. In this article, we will look through what red-brick universities are and why they are so popular.

What is a red-brick university?

The term ‘red-brick’ has been around since the Victorian period. Red-brick universities are institutions that provided a specialist set of skills and have their own independence to be considered universities.

The term ‘Red-brick’ refers to the type of brickwork used to build these universities. Red-brick was common during the Victorian era, and adds more character to its structure. The most popular red-brick universities include the University of Liverpool and the University of Birmingham. Birmingham was the first university to receive the Royal Charter to gain independence.

Red-Brick Universities in the UK

There are six major universities in the UK that are red brick designed. These are:

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield

Industrial Background

Each of these universities was built in a UK city that was popular because of their industrial inheritance. Red brick was an essential, practical design during the Industrial Revolution, and red brick universities are a signature relic of this era. Each of these universities specialised in providing sought-after skills, knowledge, and training for specific career paths, such as engineering and medicine.

image of red brick university

After the First World War, the University of Reading and the University of Nottingham were added to the range of civic, red-brick universities. By the 1960s, Cardiff, Leicester, and Hull had their universities gain independence, although there is some debate about whether these should be referred to as red-brick universities too.

During this era, ‘plate glass universities’ also came into existence due to their architectural design, proving how the design of a university is part of their selling point to aspiring graduates because the design adds to their history.

Check out the cost between home learning and university study

What are the benefits of a red-brick university?

Are red-brick universities better? Although the original six red-brick universities are part of the Russel Group, this defines them as having a big reputation for pioneering research. You can see even how they are so prevalent through their league tables, but this does not mean you should go to a red-brick university just because it is a red-brick university. On the contrary, you want to go because they have the right course for you; what colour the brick is, is just par for the course. Yes, they look particularly beautiful, but because the six original red brick universities are based in culturally and industrially prosperous cities in the UK, it does make them more interesting to apply for.

You should ask yourself:

  • Is the university got strong links to career industries and future employers?
  • What course do you want to study there?
  • Does their low rank in a league table define whether they are good? It depends on what industry you want to start a career in.
  • The cost of living in the area surrounding the city.
  • What is the nightlife like in the city?
  • Extracurricular activities to engage the students more within the University.

How to Apply to a Red-Brick University

Before you start applying, you need to research the university of your choice and check out whether it matches the following:

  • Is the location convenient for you?
  • How much do the fees cost?
  • What are the entry requirements?

Once you have done the necessary research, begin preparing important documentation for your UCAS application, including personal statements and the collection of your grades from school.

Red-Brick University Entry Requirements

You will usually need to pass these entry requirements to be considered and accepted into a red-brick, or any, UK university:

  • English language test – either IELTS or TOEFL.
  • DBS Criminal record check.
  • Health checks.
  • Entrance interviews (this is optional depending on the university requirements)
  • Personal statement: this is how you sell yourself to the University. Why should they accept you into their institution?

Are red-brick universities right for you?

Hopefully, this guide has given you more thought on whether going to university is the right choice for you and whether red-brick universities are the right institutions for advancing your education further. If anything, the cities the red brick universities are based in are worth visiting just for their history. It would be quite the flex to your friends and family that you studied in a culturally rich, industrial city of the UK.

Nick Cooper
Nick is NCC's resident blog author and covers a range of subjects, including teaching and health & social care. NCC is an international learning provider with over 20 years’ experience offering learning solutions. To date, NCC has engaged with over 20,000 employers, and delivered quality training to over half a million learners.
Like this article? Spread the word

Related courses you may also like