The phrase, which was originally coined by The Times Higher Education Supplement, has come into popular use with particular regard to top-up fees, funding and university exclusivity. The five universities are:
Established c. 1209, this is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world with more Nobel Prize winning affiliates than any other institution in the world . Endowment: £4.1 billion
From 1907 to 2007, Imperial College was a constituent college of the University of London. It is now independent and teaches science, engineering and medicine. It has recently opened a business school and humanities department. Endowment: £57.6 million
London's oldest university institution and one of the founder members of the University of London, UCL was the first non-religious university in the United Kingdom. Endowment: £105.1 million
The LSE describes itself as “the world’s leading social science institution for teaching and research.” It is a single-faculty college of the University of London.
The University of Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. As well as being the ‘City of Dreaming Spires,’ it is home to the Rhodes Scholarships which bring international post-graduate students to the UK. Endowment: £3.6 billion.
Both Oxford and Cambridge consist of around 30 colleges within which are accommodation and teaching facilities.