Queen’s University Belfast History
Queen’s University Belfast (informally Queen’s or QUB) is a public research university in Belfast, Northern Ireland[note 1] The university was chartered in 1845, and opened in 1849 as “Queen’s College, Belfast”, but has roots going back to 1810 and the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.
The university forms the focal point of the Queen’s Quarter area of the city, one of Belfast’s four cultural districts. It offers academic degrees at various levels and across a broad subject range, with over 300 degree programmes available. Its acting President and Vice-Chancellor is James McElnay, and its Chancellor is Thomas Moran.
Queen’s is a member of the Russell Group of leading research intensive universities, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the European University Association, Universities Ireland and Universities UK. The university is associated with two Nobel laureates and one Turing Award laureate.
Queen’s University Belfast has its roots in the Belfast Academical Institution, which was founded in 1810, one of the United Kingdom’s 10 oldest universities, and remains as the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. The present university was first chartered as “Queen’s College, Belfast” in 1845, when it was associated with the simultaneously founded Queen’s College, Cork, and Queen’s College, Galway, as part of the Queen’s University of Ireland – founded to encourage higher education for Catholics and Presbyterians, as a counterpart to Trinity College, Dublin, then an Anglican institution. Queen’s College, Belfast, opened in 1849. Its main building, the Lanyon Building, was designed by the English architect, Sir Charles Lanyon. At its opening, it had 23 professors and 343 students.. Some early students at Queen’s University Belfast took University of London examinations.
The Irish Universities Act, 1908 dissolved the Royal University of Ireland, which had replaced the Queen’s University of Ireland in 1879, and created two separate universities: the current National University of Ireland and Queen’s University of Belfast.
The university was one of only eight United Kingdom universities to hold a parliamentary seat in the House of Commons at Westminster until such representation was abolished in 1950. The university was also represented in the Parliament of Northern Ireland from 1920–1968, where its graduates elected four seats.
On 20 June 2006, the university announced a £259 million investment programme focusing on facilities, recruitment and research. One of the outcomes of this investment has been a new university library; the McClay library was designed by Boston-based architects Sheply, Bulfinch, Richardson & Abbott, working in association with Belfast architects, Robinson Patterson Partnership, and opened in July 2009. The building has been named in honour of Sir Allen McClay, a major benefactor of Queen’s University and of the Library.
In June 2010, the university announced the launch of a £7.5m Ansin international research hub with Seagate Technologies.
The only Juris Doctor degree currently awarded by a UK university is at Queens University Belfast, perhaps in part due to Northern Ireland’s peculiarity. This is a 3–4 year degree specified as being a professional doctorate at the doctoral qualifications level in the UK framework, sitting above the LLM and including a 30,000 word dissertation demonstrating “The creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication” that must be passed in order to gain the degree.
Queen’s is one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, with a total workforce of 3,903, of whom 2,414 were members of academic, academic-related and research staff and 1,489 were administrative employees.