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Vice-Chancellor's Update - July 2022

Last week saw the start of Summer Graduation with 24 ceremonies taking place over the course of nine days.

Amongst those receiving degrees this year are seven Honorary Graduates who are being recognised for their significant contribution and impact across sport, business, public service, arts and literature, and engineering. They are:

  • Anna Burns, Doctor of Literature for distinction in the Arts and Literature
  • Professor Sir Mark Caulfield, Doctor of Medical Science for distinction in Medicine
  • Denis Clarke, Doctor of the University for distinction in Sport
  • The Rt Hon Sir Donnell Deeny, Doctor of Laws for distinction in Public Service
  • The Rt Hon the Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, Doctor of Laws for distinction in Public Service
  • Professor Ciaran Martin CB, Doctor of Science in Engineering for distinction in Engineering
  • The Rt Hon Sir Declan Morgan, Doctor of Laws for distinction in Public Service

We are delighted to welcome our Honorary Graduates into the Queen’s family and to celebrate with our graduating students.  Graduation is a huge logistical undertaking and I would like to thank staff for their outstanding effort and dedication in ensuring that it is a memorable occasion for all our graduates and their families.

Whilst many of our graduates will remain with us for postgraduate study, many others will be entering the job market as they embark on their careers. Graduate employability is an area we are extremely strong in – we are currently ranked 12th in the UK for Graduate Outcomes according to the Complete University Guide 2023, which was published recently.  Our overall position in the League Table is 24, up ten places from last year, with 13 of our subject areas ranked in the top ten. This includes three firsts in the UK for Agriculture and Forestry, Dentistry, and Social Work and follows on from our strong REF performance which saw five of our subject areas in the top 20, including ranking first in the UK for agriculture, food and veterinary science.

There are numerous league tables published nationally and globally with varying methodologies and performance measures used to compile the rankings. For example, the QS University Rankings, which were published at the beginning of June, use a 40% weighting for the results of an Academic Reputation Survey. In recent years, colleagues across the University have been working hard in relation to our reputation survey score and it is great to see that it has improved in this year’s rankings. Of course, there is further progress that could be made and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Internationalisation, Professor Margaret Topping, is currently leading out on a Reputation Action Plan.

One area we are aware needs addressed is the Staff:Student Ratio and staff have raised this issue with me directly during my recent School visits, which I have been undertaking with University Executive Board colleagues.  Senate has recently approved an annual (recurrent) investment of £30m to support the delivery of Strategy 2030.  This will fund up to 100 new academic posts, strengthen our professional services support, grow our international student population, and enhance our international reputation. Senate has also approved the creation of a strategic non-recurrent reserve of £8m for investment in Range 4 Professors and pump priming activities and initiatives.  In addition, the challenge of staff recruitment has been thoroughly reviewed and new procedures will be introduced to streamline our systems.

In order to support the University Executive Board in the delivery of the key priorities of Strategy 2030, I am delighted to announce the appointment of two Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellors.  Professor Michael Alcorn has been appointed Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Strategic Projects with effect from 1 September 2022 while Professor Helen McCarthy has been appointed Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor – Academic Business Development with effect from 1 August 2022. We wish Michael and Helen every success in these new leadership roles.

Our people are at the heart of Strategy 2030 and the recent Technician showcase highlighted the vital work and diversity of technical expertise across the Institution. Our technicians are critical to the success of our university. During the event, their contribution was recognised with the presentation of the inaugural Queen's Technicians Awards. Many congratulations to the winners - Kevin Campbell, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Marc Fuchs, Genomic Core Technology Unit, the Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research; and Jonny McGuinness, School of Arts, English and Languages.

Congratulations also to academic colleagues on their recent election to the Learned Societies.  Professor Vince Fusco from ECIT has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society while Professor David Jones has been elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and admitted as a Member to the Royal Irish Academy, along with Dr Gladys Ganiel from the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.  Other colleagues recently receiving recognition include Professor Stephen Smartt from the Astrophysics Research Centre who was awarded a CBE for services to Science in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours and Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of the Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s who was awarded an MBE for services to Education and to the community in Northern Ireland.

Professor David Jones and Dr Gladys Ganiel

This has been a challenging year for our staff, but I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement with our branch UCU on a wide range of issues that are important to all of us, but some of which specifically feature in the UCU Four Fights campaign.  The agreement covers our positions, plans and commitments on pension, pay, casualisation, values and behaviours, equality, diversity and inclusion, and career development.  The full text of the agreement can be read here.  I am grateful for our joint work with all the trade unions.

As we near the end of this academic year, I would like to thank staff for your contribution and efforts throughout the year. It is greatly appreciated. I hope you all have an enjoyable summer.


Professor Ian Greer