Red brick university
Red brick university (or redbrick university) is an informal term used to refer to six particular universities founded in the major industrial cities of England. Five of the six red brick institutions gained university status before World War I and were initially established as civic science and/or engineering colleges. In the case of the University of Manchester which merged in 2004, its predecessor, the Victoria University of Manchester, gained a royal charter and red brick status in 1903.
Whilst the term was originally coined as these institutions were new and thus regarded by the ancient universities as arriviste, the description has since ceased to be derogatory with the 1960s proliferation of universities and the reclassification of polytechnics in 1992. The six institutions are members of the Russell Group (which receives two-thirds of all research grant funding in the United Kingdom).
Origins of the term 
The term "red brick" or "redbrick" was first coined by a professor of Spanish (Edgar Allison Peers) at the University of Liverpool to describe these civic universities (under the pseudonym "Bruce Truscot" in his 1943 book Redbrick University). His reference was inspired by the fact that The Victoria Building at the University of Liverpool (designed by Alfred Waterhouse and completed in 1892) is built from a distinctive red pressed brick, with terracotta decorative dressings. Waterhouse also designed the Great Hall of the University of Leeds before the project at the University of Liverpool; however, this was completed two years after Liverpool's Victoria Building.
On this basis the University of Liverpool considers itself to be the original Red Brick institution. The University of Birmingham states, however, that it was the first to gain official university status, and that the popularity of the term owes to its own domed Accrington brick buildings, despite the fact that Liverpool's Victoria Building was built 13 years prior to Birmingham's Aston Webb building.
The civic university movement 
|Name||Red brick ascension||Predecessor institutions||Notes|
|Victoria University||1880||Owens College, Manchester (1851)
University College Liverpool (1882)
|Led by the Victoria University of Manchester and included Leeds and Liverpool colleges.
Defunct by 1904 as Leeds and Liverpool sought separate university status.
|University of Birmingham||1900||Birmingham Medical School (1825)
Mason Science College (1875)
|University of Liverpool||1903||University College, Liverpool (1882)|
|University of Leeds||1904||Leeds School of Medicine (1831)|
|University of Sheffield||1905||University College of Sheffield (1897)|
|University of Bristol||1909||University College Bristol (1876)|
|University of Manchester||2004||Victoria University of Manchester (1880)
|Victoria University of Manchester gained royal charter as a red brick in 1903. Victoria University and UMIST merged in 2004.|
The English civic university movement developed out of various 19th century private research and education institutes in industrial cities. The 1824 Manchester Mechanics' Institute formed the basis of the Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), and thus led towards the University of Manchester proper. The University of Birmingham has origins dating back to the 1825 Birmingham Medical School. The University of Leeds also owes its foundations to a medical school: the 1831 Leeds School of Medicine. The University of Bristol began with the 1876 University College, Bristol, the University of Liverpool with a University College in 1881, and the University of Sheffield with a university college in 1897.
These universities were distinguished by being non-collegiate institutions that admitted men without reference to religion or background and concentrated on imparting to their students "real-world" skills, often linked to engineering. In this sense they owed their structural heritage to the Humboldt University of Berlin, which emphasised practical knowledge over the academic sort. This focus on the practical also distinguished the red brick universities from the ancient English universities of Oxford and Cambridge and from the newer (although still pre-Victorian) University of Durham, collegiate institutions which concentrated on divinity, the liberal arts and imposed religious tests (e.g. assent to the Thirty-Nine Articles) on staff and students. Scotland's ancient universities (St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh), usually grouped with Dundee, were founded on a different basis.
Other institutions 
The term 'Red Brick' has often found more liberal usage. Indeed, many institutions share similar characteristics to the original six civic universities. The University of Reading, founded in the late 19th century as an extension college of Oxford, was the only university to receive its charter between the two world wars and is therefore often described as a Red Brick. So too is Queen's University Belfast, which became a civic university in 1908, having previously been established in 1845 as a college of the Queen's University of Ireland (later Royal University of Ireland). Many of the original constituent institutions of the University of Wales bear the Red Brick hallmarks: Aberystwyth; Bangor; Swansea; Cardiff. Certain constituent colleges of the University of London, such as Royal Holloway, Queen Mary and Goldsmiths College are also literally Victorian red brick in style.
Various other civic institutions with origins dating from the 19th and early 20th centuries have been described as Red Brick: University of Dundee (originally an independent university college, before becoming a constituent college of the University of St Andrews), University of Exeter and University of Hull, (both originally extension colleges of the University of London), University of Leicester, Newcastle University (originally two extension colleges of the University of Durham), University of Nottingham, and University of Southampton.
See also 
- A history of the HE environment | Staff | University of St Andrews
- "Birmingham University Firsts". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "About the University of Bristol". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "Origins of the University of Leeds". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "About the University of Liverpool". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "University of Manchester: History". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "About the University of Sheffield". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- Peers, Edgar Allison (1943). Redbrick University.
- Russell Group: Home
- Peers, Edgar Allison (1996). Redbrick University Revisited. Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-259-8.
- "About the University of Liverpool". Retrieved 2009-05-13.
- "University of Birmingham Attractions". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "Humboldt University Structural Model and History". Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- "The University's History". University of Reading. Retrieved 2009-04-30.