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Vice-Chancellor's Update - October 2021

The new academic year is well underway and it is wonderful to see so many of our students and staff back on campus.

Over recent weeks more activities and events have been taking place in person, including the official installation ceremony for our Chancellor, Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Secretary Clinton had planned to visit Queen’s in April 2020, but, regrettably, this visit had to be postponed due the Coronavirus pandemic, so we were delighted that the ceremony was able to go ahead in September and that so many of our staff and students were able to attend.  During the ceremony, Secretary Clinton conferred Honorary Degrees on 14 individuals from the worlds of business, politics, sport, the arts, policing and education. Further details on our Honorary Graduates and a recording of the Ceremony are available here. As well as the Installation Ceremony, we hosted a lunch for our Chancellor and Honorary Graduates and an Installation dinner which was attended by a number of external stakeholders as well as many staff and students.

The installation events will undoubtedly rank as one of the most memorable occasions in the history of Queen’s and I have been overwhelmed by the positive feedback that we have received. These types of events require a tremendous amount of organisation and teamwork, and I would like to thank all those staff and students who made the occasion such a success. A particular word of thanks to colleagues in the Vice-Chancellor’s Office, Eventus, Catering, Estates, MRCI, and our students who participated in the various events.

The installation of our new Chancellor comes at a key stage in the progress of our university as a world-class institution. You will be aware that in July we launched Strategy 2030, our ten-year plan to shape a better world through life-changing education and research, and inspire global ambition in all our activities. Enhancing our Global Reputation and Partnerships is a strategic priority within Strategy 2030 and our Chancellor will play a key role in enabling us to achieve that. So too will Professor Margaret Topping who has been appointed our new Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation. Margaret takes over from Professor Richard English who has been appointed Director of the Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice.

Research and Innovation is another priority within our Strategy and I’m delighted to see the progress that is being made in this area. Our research performance for the last academic year saw a marked improvement in the value of research awards which at £88.5m, is £15.6m (21.4%) higher than the 3-year average and £14.4m (19.5%) higher compared to last year.  As well as a rise in the proportion of £1m+ awards (25.4%), the quality of research awards also improved with £36.3m from UKRI, £11m (43.5%) higher than the 3-year average. This is in line with our focus on research quality and is largely responsible for the substantial increase in contribution budgeted on awards which at £20.4m is £7.0m (58.3%) higher than the 3-year average and represents 24.7% of award values.   The value of applications also increased (20.9%), including the percentage of £1m + value applications (43.3%) which reflects our focus on increasing the level of ambition in terms of scale of award. This is a tremendous performance, particularly given the impact of COVID, and I would like to thank all our colleagues across the Faculties and Professional Services, in particular Research and Enterprise,  who helped achieve it.

Last week, we were able to present some of our innovative research to the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, when he visited campus. He had the opportunity to tour some of our research locations and meet students and academics to explore the potential of all-island collaborations in teaching and research.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin pictured with (l-r) Head of Research Development Dr Wendy McLoone, Director of the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research Professor Chris Scott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Professor Emma Flynn and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer. 

This year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Research Prizes provide an opportunity to recognise and reward those colleagues who are involved in research and research support. Further details on the Prizes, which close on Friday 29, October are available here. Our annual Staff Excellence Awards are now also open for nominations. Staff or students can nominate any member of staff for an award up until the closing date of Friday, 5 November. Further details are available on the Staff Excellence Awards website.  Recognising the contribution staff make to the University is important and a key element of that is our Academic Progression Scheme. This year, 152 members of staff progressed to a new grade/range – full details are available here. Many congratulations to all those who have progressed.

Professor Ian Greer