What effect does a degree from a Russell Group or a Non-Russell Group have? Watch

GeorgeFrainza
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Hello everyone

This past week I have undertaken a work experience placement at GSK. I have absolutely loved my time here and before experiencing it I was quite confident this was the area I wanted to work in, however after this week I am now more then certain that this is the area I want to go into.

In the future I would love to attempt to work for this company. This issue Im having is that throughout this week I have spoke to many people from the certain areas of biology I am interested in and they all seem to be graduates from Russell Group universities and especially Manchester/Cambridge/London Colleges etc. However my predicted grades were not on par with these types of universities. At this moment in time i do currently hold an industrial placement year biological sciences degree course offer from the University of East Anglia. Over all the university scores well and it also scores well in the subject of biological sciences. I would hope/plan to do the industrial year at GSK. Then hopefully go on to do a PHD but that could change, I may want to just go into work.

What Im really asking is will I be at a much less of a chance of being able to stand a chance with working at an institution like this, even if I was to score a first or 2:1 at university.

Thank you for reading my long winded post.

George
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tim_123
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(Original post by GeorgeFrainza)
Hello everyone

This past week I have undertaken a work experience placement at GSK. I have absolutely loved my time here and before experiencing it I was quite confident this was the area I wanted to work in, however after this week I am now more then certain that this is the area I want to go into.

In the future I would love to attempt to work for this company. This issue Im having is that throughout this week I have spoke to many people from the certain areas of biology I am interested in and they all seem to be graduates from Russell Group universities and especially Manchester/Cambridge/London Colleges etc. However my predicted grades were not on par with these types of universities. At this moment in time i do currently hold an industrial placement year biological sciences degree course offer from the University of East Anglia. Over all the university scores well and it also scores well in the subject of biological sciences. I would hope/plan to do the industrial year at GSK. Then hopefully go on to do a PHD but that could change, I may want to just go into work.

What Im really asking is will I be at a much less of a chance of being able to stand a chance with working at an institution like this, even if I was to score a first or 2:1 at university.

Thank you for reading my long winded post.

George
Use the time you have on the work placement now to ensure they remember you. Then get that industrial placement back at GSK, that's what's important.

Forget about russel group Uni's, companies are much more willing to hire graduates with industrial experience - and even more so if you have done one with them and performed well
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GeorgeFrainza
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(Original post by tim_123)
Use the time you have on the work placement now to ensure they remember you. Then get that industrial placement back at GSK, that's what's important.

Forget about russel group Uni's, companies are much more willing to hire graduates with industrial experience - and even more so if you have done one with them and performed well
Yeah thats what i was hoping is that as long as you show you are passionate about that area and you do everything that you can in order to make it possible. Its just what threw me off a bit was that I was trying to establish as much information as possible and it just seemed everyone did PHD's and everyone seemed to off gone to Russel groups and or really established institutions.

George
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tim_123
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(Original post by GeorgeFrainza)
Yeah thats what i was hoping is that as long as you show you are passionate about that area and you do everything that you can in order to make it possible. Its just what threw me off a bit was that I was trying to establish as much information as possible and it just seemed everyone did PHD's and everyone seemed to off gone to Russel groups and or really established institutions.

George
Yeh I can understand that got to you, but try and remember it's more likely they got the job because they were good candidates.

I've seen maybe two job adverts that specifically asked for Oxbridge grads, and it was in facial recognition algorithms paying like 40k... So Yeh those jobs exist, but the majority care more about how suitable an applicant you are
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soanonymous
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The hype over Russell Group unis is becoming a bit irrelevant. There are plenty universities that are better than some Russell Group universities depending on the course.
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GeorgeFrainza
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(Original post by soanonymous)
The hype over Russell Group unis is becoming a bit irrelevant. There are plenty universities that are better than some Russell Group universities depending on the course.
Yeah UEA ranks above some of them for Biological Sciences, I just wanted to see if anyone could give me some clarification that I would still stand a chance of be able to work there.

Thank you very much
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GeorgeFrainza
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[QUOTE=J-SP;53770007]You got the placement in the first place. They won't give these things out to people they can't see having any chance of getting a grad job with (unless you got the placement through a contact/family connection).

Im not sure if you have all information I will just clarify to double check. I am still currently in Year 13. There were 300 applicants and only 50 places, however they didn't require any grade information on the subjects, so no way to tell the difference in level of intelligence from one applicant to another, it was only done by an application form.

George
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GeorgeFrainza
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[QUOTE=J-SP;53770399][QUOTE=GeorgeFrainza;53770157]

I see - but still you were selected....

The name of your institution won't be able to determine your level of intelligence either.

Thats actually a great point thanks Im probably just over worrying about it all. Cheers
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skd1996
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Experience is worth so much more
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GeorgeFrainza
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(Original post by skd1996)
Experience is worth so much more
Awesome thats good then thanks
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Computer Geek
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Depends on the job you're going for, where the university matters (for example legal professions and investment banking), however I think you're fine here. Going to a Russell Group university isn't important, what is important is going to a top university, anyone who is even remotely serious about their career would want to go to a top university, it's just logical.
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Gnomes&Knights
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A Russell Group degree is just on average more reputable than a non-Russell Group degree. This isn't always the case as there are excellent non-Russell Group Universities like St Andrews, Aberdeen, Bath, Keele, Leicester etc. This doesn't apply to Medicine as it doesn't matter where you go to study Medicine. A Russell Group degree is more likely to look better to employers, improving your employability.
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Baron of Sealand
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It really depends on which universities you are comparing.

It could be either a difference between London Metropolitan University and University of Oxford; or between University of St Andrews and Queen Mary University of London.

So it depends on which universities you're really comparing UEA to. Oxbridge will always have an advantage over you, so do the London universities if not simply for being in London.

For the people making the point that 'experience is more important': It's irrelevant. The OP being alive and a human being are even more important. Just because you can have experience graduating from UEA doesn't mean people from UCL are not going to have experience. This is never an either or thing.
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Juichiro
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(Original post by tim_123)
Use the time you have on the work placement now to ensure they remember you. Then get that industrial placement back at GSK, that's what's important.

Forget about russel group Uni's, companies are much more willing to hire graduates with industrial experience - and even more so if you have done one with them and performed well
This. OP, you should rep Tim for this. He just pushes a little closer to your future.
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Crazydavy
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(Original post by GeorgeFrainza)
Hello everyone

This past week I have undertaken a work experience placement at GSK. I have absolutely loved my time here and before experiencing it I was quite confident this was the area I wanted to work in, however after this week I am now more then certain that this is the area I want to go into.

In the future I would love to attempt to work for this company. This issue Im having is that throughout this week I have spoke to many people from the certain areas of biology I am interested in and they all seem to be graduates from Russell Group universities and especially Manchester/Cambridge/London Colleges etc. However my predicted grades were not on par with these types of universities. At this moment in time i do currently hold an industrial placement year biological sciences degree course offer from the University of East Anglia. Over all the university scores well and it also scores well in the subject of biological sciences. I would hope/plan to do the industrial year at GSK. Then hopefully go on to do a PHD but that could change, I may want to just go into work.

What Im really asking is will I be at a much less of a chance of being able to stand a chance with working at an institution like this, even if I was to score a first or 2:1 at university.

Thank you for reading my long winded post.

George
Hi George

I study biomedical sciences and worked at GSK on an industrial placement year. You are right in that they are a great company to work for - they have a great culture and really focus on what is best for their employees and the patient. My placement was not lab-based (this is not an area I'm interested in) but was involved with clinical trial management. The hiring managers are not the same as those who hire for labs, but out of the ~10 other placement students in my building there were ~2 who went to a university significantly below UEA according to the rankings. Quite a few from Bath. I have two friends on my course who worked at GSK labs on a placement, if you have any questions I am happy to ask them to those friends.

I agree with the general consensus that experience is FAR more important than the university you go to. There are a lot of graduates who find themselves struggling to find jobs regardless of what university they went to when they don't have any experience. You've already done amazing by gaining that placement - that's a really great start. A placement year is another amazing opportunity but it is still competitive to get those placements, especially at companies like GSK. I would recommend that you look for as much experience as possible - especially during your A-level and first year of university summers. Check if your university offers support for summer research projects (e.g. Warwick has a URSS to fund and support undergraduate research projects: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/scs/experience/urss/). Otherwise look for paid or unpaid experience over summers in lab-based roles - this will be super helpful when it comes to applying for placement years during year 2 of university.

I will also be joining GSK in September on their graduate programme (this time completely non-scientific!). Lastly, be open-minded to other companies. GSK is not the only company out there and there are lots of other scientific companies where you would be very happy. Remember, you have years of working life and you may find that GSK was only meant for you later down that road

I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Good luck!
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ambermariebrown
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GeorgeFrainza
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(Original post by Crazydavy)
Hi George

I study biomedical sciences and worked at GSK on an industrial placement year. You are right in that they are a great company to work for - they have a great culture and really focus on what is best for their employees and the patient. My placement was not lab-based (this is not an area I'm interested in) but was involved with clinical trial management. The hiring managers are not the same as those who hire for labs, but out of the ~10 other placement students in my building there were ~2 who went to a university significantly below UEA according to the rankings. Quite a few from Bath. I have two friends on my course who worked at GSK labs on a placement, if you have any questions I am happy to ask them to those friends.

I agree with the general consensus that experience is FAR more important than the university you go to. There are a lot of graduates who find themselves struggling to find jobs regardless of what university they went to when they don't have any experience. You've already done amazing by gaining that placement - that's a really great start. A placement year is another amazing opportunity but it is still competitive to get those placements, especially at companies like GSK. I would recommend that you look for as much experience as possible - especially during your A-level and first year of university summers. Check if your university offers support for summer research projects (e.g. Warwick has a URSS to fund and support undergraduate research projects: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/services/scs/experience/urss/). Otherwise look for paid or unpaid experience over summers in lab-based roles - this will be super helpful when it comes to applying for placement years during year 2 of university.

I will also be joining GSK in September on their graduate programme (this time completely non-scientific!). Lastly, be open-minded to other companies. GSK is not the only company out there and there are lots of other scientific companies where you would be very happy. Remember, you have years of working life and you may find that GSK was only meant for you later down that road

I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Good luck!
Hello Davy

Can I just say real quick thank you so much for replying and in such depth. I really do appreciate it.

Yeah I always have want dot go into the lab/research side of the biology subject and at GSK it just seems to be such a good place to do it.
Would you suggest that I try get some experience this summer before I head of to Uni in some lab else where as I know they do not have a non Undergraduate work experience except the one I took place in? Then to also do the undergraduate work experience after my first year, to try and build experience to give me the best fighting chance for when it comes to the third year placement? If you cant answer then if you could ask your friends from when they worked in the lab what kind of additional things they did to give them self the best chance at getting the year in industry as I know it is a very competitive place.

Thats a reassuring thing to hear that not everyone who gets a placement is from the insanely high good universities, it just seemed that way from when ever I was talking to people this week.

I will look into what UEA has to offer in regards to helping with summer research thanks for the tip

Thanks again for the help

George
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M1011
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The obsession with "Russell Group" status has always puzzled me a bit. Never once in the working world have I heard that phrase spoken by senior people, it seems to be the sole concern of students. That's not to say the quality of your university doesn't matter, just that it's inclusion in a research group that has practically no bearing on undergraduates doesn't really matter.
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Crazydavy
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(Original post by M1011)
The obsession with "Russell Group" status has always puzzled me a bit. Never once in the working world have I heard that phrase spoken by senior people, it seems to be the sole concern of students. That's not to say the quality of your university doesn't matter, just that it's inclusion in a research group that has practically no bearing on undergraduates doesn't really matter.
I think some of the ammunition that Russell Group universities have is that (at least in my department) all of the lecturers are also researchers. This means that you're learning from experts at the forefronts of their field teaching you very topical subjects.

This does have drawbacks however. Not everything we get taught is 'straight from the lab' and it also means that some of the lecturers obviously have research on their mind rather than teaching. There are a handful of lecturers who can't teach and I would jump at the chance to have someone teaching me who had a passion for teaching and their subject. You'd be amazed at the lack of passion some people show for a niche in biology that they've devoted their life to.
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Crazydavy
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(Original post by GeorgeFrainza)
Hello Davy

Can I just say real quick thank you so much for replying and in such depth. I really do appreciate it.

Yeah I always have want dot go into the lab/research side of the biology subject and at GSK it just seems to be such a good place to do it.
Would you suggest that I try get some experience this summer before I head of to Uni in some lab else where as I know they do not have a non Undergraduate work experience except the one I took place in? Then to also do the undergraduate work experience after my first year, to try and build experience to give me the best fighting chance for when it comes to the third year placement? If you cant answer then if you could ask your friends from when they worked in the lab what kind of additional things they did to give them self the best chance at getting the year in industry as I know it is a very competitive place.

Thats a reassuring thing to hear that not everyone who gets a placement is from the insanely high good universities, it just seemed that way from when ever I was talking to people this week.

I will look into what UEA has to offer in regards to helping with summer research thanks for the tip

Thanks again for the help

George
Hi George, sorry for the later than anticipated reply - been a little busy!

Any experience in any lab is going to put you at an advantage. You don't need to restrict yourself to the blue chip companies as you can't be fussy! If you have opportunities to get some experience in lab over the holiday periods then go for it, whenever you can. Meaning now or in the summer after first year. Basically anything additional you do is going to help, it's a scale rather than a threshold. Even a part time job is going to put you ahead of other people. I worked full time over the summer in-between university and after first year at a theme park. I also had 5 years of admin volunteering at a hospital.

I've talked to one of the girls. Before the placement her experience included:
  1. Two Open University YASS courses (look it up).
  2. Two weeks in the plant sciences department at the University of Oxford in year 13 shadowing and helping here and there, and then returned to work as an assistant during university holidays.
  3. Two weeks work experience at the animal unit at the Open University during year 13 summer.
  4. Part time job at John Lewis for two years during A levels.
  5. Conservation project in Sri Lanka with elephants in first year of university summer.

So quite extensive. Your experience is really good so far, you will just need to keep building on it.
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