Alumni engagement and philanthropy


21 February 2020

Belfast Metropolitan College and Queen’s University Belfast both received the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize – a UK-wide award recognising excellence, innovation and public benefit in work carried out by colleges and universities.

Representatives from both institutions attended Buckingham Palace for the award presentation.

The awards come at a significant time for Queen’s and Belfast Met as they recently signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding), formally committing to greater co-operation and collaboration.

It is the first time Belfast Met has received a Queen’s Anniversary Prize, and the seventh time for Queen’s.

Queen’s now holds joint second place with Loughborough University for both receiving seven Queen’s Anniversary Prizes, with Oxford University ahead having received eleven awards. 

Belfast Met received the honour for developing its Digital IT curriculum in Northern Ireland while Queen’s was given the award for its work on Shared Education.

The Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s has made a considerable impact in Northern Ireland and beyond. It has become a core pillar of education policy and practice in Northern Ireland and has been adopted by educators and policymakers in other divided societies across the world.

Belfast Met was only one of four Further Education Colleges to have received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize on this occasion. The award is in recognition of its excellence in Further Education training in Information and Communications Technology ICT. It was designated Curriculum Hub for the Digital ICT sector in Northern Ireland in 2017, and continues to make a vital contribution to ‘leading the city to work’ and delivering Employability Skills as part of the Belfast City Deal.

The new MoU between Queen’s and Belfast Met details ways of greater co-operation including joint student activities and projects, knowledge exchange, collaboration on widening participation including the Pathway Opportunities Programme and Junior Academy, as well as working together to meet regional skills development needs aligned to the Belfast City Region Deal.

Marie-Thérèse McGivern, Principal and Chief Executive of Belfast Met said: “Belfast Met is honoured to receive our first Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work in developing a world class IT talent pipeline in Northern Ireland.

“We are delighted to work in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast to collaboratively provide new opportunities for future generations, developing skills to support economic growth in Belfast and beyond.”

President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer said, “To receive a national honour such as the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the University’s work on Shared Education is a privilege and one which affirms the world leading work that takes place here.

“We were pleased to receive it alongside Belfast Metropolitan College with which we have recently signed a MoU. I am convinced of the importance of collaboration and I, and my colleagues, look forward to working more closely with Belfast Met, with a shared vision to enrich education and development opportunities in Northern Ireland.”

Economy Minister Diane Dodds added: “As Minister with responsibility for both the further and higher education sectors, I congratulate Queen’s University and Belfast Met on each receiving the prestigious Queen’s Anniversary Prize.

“Both institutions deliver high quality teaching and training opportunities to people in a wide range of areas, both academic and vocational, and nurture an abundance of expertise, knowledge and skills among their students and staff.

“These awards recognise both the work by Queen’s in shared education, and Belfast Met’s role as a Digital IT Hub, and are testament to the contribution the institutions make not only to the local economy, but also to wider society. Staff and students can be rightly proud of these awards.”

Education Minister Peter Weir said: “I offer my warm congratulations to both Queen’s University Belfast and Belfast Metropolitan College on receiving these prestigious awards. 

“Queen’s Centre for Shared Education’s pioneering work on Shared Education in Northern Ireland is highly regarded by educationalists and policy makers in Northern Ireland and internationally. It has made a significant contribution to the advancement of Shared Education in Northern Ireland through which two thirds of our schools are now involved in cross-community partnerships.”

The Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s started out with just 12 schools in 2007, since when it has grown to more than 700 schools and 60,000 pupils who are now involved in regular, shared classes with schools from different denominations.

Professor Tony Gallagher, who is considered one of the world’s leading academic experts on the role of education in divided societies, said Queen's was now recognised internationally for the positive impact it was having in post-conflict societies.

Speaking to the Irish News he said: "This award is a tribute to the many hundreds of teachers and thousands of pupils who have helped make shared education work," he said.

"Not only is it transforming the education sector in Northern Ireland but we are working with academics and educators to adapt the model to other divided cities and countries like Jerusalem, Beirut, Los Angeles, Kosovo and North Macedonia."

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes have been running for 27 years and are considered the most prestigious awards in the education sector. Operating on a two-year cycle and managed by The Royal Anniversary Trust, over 270 prizes have been issued since the scheme was created in 1993.  

Media contact for Belfast Met: Danielle Hart, telephone: +44 (0)28 9026 5447; enquiries for Queen’s University: Communications Office +44 (0)28 9097 3091.

Pictured above (L-R) are: Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Senate - Mr Stephen Prenter MBE, F.C.A; Professor Joanne Hughes, Director of the Centre for Shared Education at Queen’s University Belfast; Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast and Professor Tony Gallagher from the Centre for Shared Education.

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