FTSE 100 is dominated by Russell Group graduates, figures show

LeedsNow can reveal link between positions of financial power and Russell Group universities.


The Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE 100), lists the 100 biggest companies trading within the United Kingdom. LeedsNow investigated to see if a link existed between the top earners and the balance between Russell Group graduates versus graduates from Polytechnic Universities. 

Our findings show that there are 844 directors in total on the FTSE 100, and 509 of them went to University.

Out of the 509, 137 individuals graduated from a Russell Group or Polytechnic university.

We investigated these graduate earners and found only 10 of said earners graduated with a degree from a Polytechnic University. The other 127 individuals came from a Russell Group.

The remaining 372 individuals who didn’t fit our investigatory criteria, either went to a red brick university, international university or had no record of higher education.


Morrisons, an FTSE 100 business, have two board members who attended Polytechnic Universities. CEO Dave Potts graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University and similarly, Chairman Andrew Higginson, attended Birmingham City University. 

Tesco Supermarket’s CEO, David Lewis, graduated from Nottingham Trent University.


Professor Ralph Tench, director of research for Leeds Business School, said: “There is no doubt that some universities have more money and connections for travel, funding initiatives and networks. 

These can create experiences and opportunities that may lead to accessing decision-makers in the commercial environment. Also, some well-networked friendships can be formed with influential individuals or related family members.

That said, what I do believe is that at the end of the day it is down to the individual. Russell Group universities don’t address developing the skills and work experience of their undergraduates.  This is something universities with an applied sense of the disciplines they teach, are more concrete at delivering and do extremely well.”


We found that the most powerful seven on the FTSE 100 were all women. The top seven were:

  1. Angie Risley
  2. Jo Harlow
  3. Rakhi Goss-Custard Parekh
  4. Laura Katharine Wade-Gery 
  5. Deanna Oppenheimer 
  6. Claudia Arney 
  7. Coline Lucille McConville

Only two of the seven, however, attended a Russell Group.

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