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Vice-Chancellor's Update - February 2020

Last week, the University was presented with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work on Shared Education by The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace.

This is the seventh time Queen’s has received the royal honour – placing us joint second with Loughborough University while the University of Oxford holds eleven awards. Being awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize is a tremendous achievement and I would like to thank all those who have been involved in the success of Shared Education, in particular Professors Tony Gallagher and Joanne Hughes. It was wonderful that our staff, students and partners who have played such an important role in Shared Education were able to be with us in London to share in the achievement.

Professors Tony Gallagher and Joanne Hughes with Masters student Rebecca Barry and colleagues involved in Shared Education

It was also great to be able to celebrate the occasion with Belfast Met who received its first Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its excellence in Further Education training in ICT.  Queen’s and Belfast Met have recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding, formally committing to greater co-operation and collaboration. This includes joint student activities and projects, knowledge exchange, collaboration on widening participation including the Pathway Opportunity Programme and Junior Academy, as well as working together to meet regional skills development needs aligned to the Belfast Region City Deal.

The importance of skills development has been one of the issues we have been discussing with elected representatives in a series of meetings following the restoration of the Executive. As well as meeting our new ministers, I have held discussions with the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Robin Walker. The new Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, also visited Queen’s on his first engagement in Northern Ireland where he received a tour of CSIT and heard about the importance of the IT and cyber sector from ECIT’s Director, Professor Maire O’Neill.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor David Jones, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Professor Maire O'Neill

A few weeks ago, we celebrated the achievements of staff from across the University at the annual Staff Excellence Awards. Now in their fourth year, the Awards give us the opportunity to recognise and reward the individual and collective contribution staff make to Queen’s and wider society. Congratulations to our winners and to all those who were nominated and shortlisted. Thank you as well to the Judging Panel and to those involved in the organisation of the awards. Details of the winners can be found on the Staff Gateway.

Earlier this month, we had the opportunity to pay tribute to our previous Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paddy Johnston when we re-named CCRCB, The Patrick G Johnston Centre for Cancer Research. The event, which was attended by Paddy’s family, friends and colleagues, was an opportunity for us to recognise his significant contribution and profound impact, not just on this University, but on the lives of so many people here in Northern Ireland and across the world. In a few weeks’ time, we will be holding an event to honour our late Chancellor, when we name the Thomas J Moran Graduate School and unveil his portrait.

Professor Chris Scott, Dr Iseult Wilson and Professor Ian Greer

Over the past month, I have been continuing my School visits as part of the development of our new Strategic Plan. The purpose of these visits is to further explore some of the themes that have emerged from staff feedback. We intend to have a Draft Plan ready for April with further input from staff and students taking place before it goes to Senate in June. The timetable for the development of Plan is available here.

Colleagues will be aware that we are currently facing a number of challenges across the HE sector. The ongoing industrial action highlights a number of issues of concern for our staff and we fully respect the right of staff to take part in industrial action. However, the central issues in dispute remain primarily national and there is nothing the University can do to resolve them other than continue to encourage negotiations to achieve an agreed position. Further details around the industrial action can be accessed here. 

The University continues to closely monitor developments associated with the Coronavirus and further information for staff and students can be accessed here. This page is regularly updated to reflect the latest advice from the relevant agencies.