The Russell Group of universities has accepted four new members - including the Universities of Durham and York. The elite group represents the UK's top institutions of higher education.
Professor Michael Arthur, chairman of the Russell Group, said: "We are delighted to announce that the Russell Group board has invited four more members to join the group, all of whom have accepted.
"Durham, Exeter, Queen Mary and York have demonstrated that - like all other Russell Group members - they excel in research, innovation and education and have a critical mass of research excellence across a wide range of disciplines."
Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, said: "I look forward to working with our new members to make sure the UK remains a global leader in higher education and continues to reap the economic and social benefits that our leading research-intensive universities provide."