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.
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.
In addition to the main campus not far from the centre of Belfast, the university has two associated university colleges, these being St Mary's and Stranmillis both also located in Belfast. Although offering a range of degree courses, these colleges primarily provide training for those wishing to enter the teaching profession. The university has formal agreements with other colleges in Northern Ireland and operates several outreach schemes to rural areas.
While the university refers to its main site as a campus, the university's buildings are in fact spread over a number of public streets in South Belfast, centring on University Road, University Square and Stranmillis Road, with other departments located further afield.
Queen's has been led by a distinguished line of Vice-chancellors, including Sir David Keir, Lord Ashby of Brandon, Michael Grant, Sir Arthur Vick, Sir Peter Froggatt, Sir Gordon Beveridge, Sir George Bain and Sir Peter Gregson.
The university's Chancellors have included Anthony Ashley-Cooper, 9th Earl of Shaftesbury, Field Marshal Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Sir Tyrone Guthrie, Eric Ashby, Baron Ashby, and George J. Mitchell. The current chancellor is the businessman Thomas Moran.
Academics at Queen's are organised into fifteen schools across three faculties. The three faculties are the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences, the Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Sciences. Each of the 20 schools operates as a primary management unit of the university and the schools are the focus for education and research for their respective subject areas.School of Biological Sciences
School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
School of Arts, English and Languages
School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics
School of Law
Queen’s Management School
School of Mathematics and Physics
School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences
School of Nursing and Midwifery
School of Pharmacy
School of Natural and Built Environment
School of Psychology
School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work
Gibson Institute - The Institute is involved in education and research in the areas of sustainability, rural development, environmental management, food marketing, renewable energy, nutrition, physical activity and public health
Institute for Collaborative Research in the Humanities - The Institute, established in 2012, provides strategic leadership at Queen’s to support and enhance world class interdisciplinary research in the Humanities at all levels. On Feb 18th 2016 BBC Northern Ireland reported that this Institute was to be closed.
Institute for Global Food Security - The Institute houses a suite of state-of-the-art laboratories, conducting cutting edge research into various topics ranging from soil & plant health through to food security.
Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice - The purpose of the Institute is to facilitate sustained interdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching and to provide strategic focus to support world class research in this field.
Institute of Cognition and Culture - Founded in 2004, this is one of the world’s first centres for research in the cognitive science of culture. It has brought together a range of cutting-edge cognitive scientists via a series of visiting fellowships.
Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) - established in 2003 to commercialise world-class research and expertise in a variety of enabling digital communications technologies at the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Queen’s University Belfast.
Institute of Irish Studies - The Institute of Irish Studies celebrated its 50th birthday in March 2015. It was the first of its kind to be established in the world and is one of the leading centres for research-led teaching in Irish Studies and is an internationally renowned centre of interdisciplinary Irish scholarship.
Institute of Professional Legal Studies - The Institute of Professional Legal Studies was established in 1977 at Queen's University Belfast. It provides an internationally recognised and unique one-year postgraduate course for trainee barristers and trainee solicitors who study together.
Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning (ISEP) - The Institute of Spatial and Environmental Planning (ISEP) has a very wide range of research projects built on strong international, interdisciplinary and theoretical references.
Institute of Theology - Consists of several colleges with a Christian emphasis, including St Mary's (Catholic), Union Theological College (Presbyterian), Belfast Bible College (non-denominational), as well as Baptist and Methodist colleges in Belfast. In all five colleges teach any programmes with a theological emphasis on behalf of the university; the university may confer theology degrees but cannot teach the subject itself.
William J Clinton Leadership Institute - The William J Clinton Leadership Institute at Riddel Hall brings world class facilities, leading academics and industry experts together to deliver a high end portfolio of executive education and leadership programmes.
Queen's University Belfast was admitted to the Russell Group of UK research-intensive universities in November 2006. Queen’s University was placed joint 8th in the UK for research intensity following the Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF). The UK-wide research assessment of higher education institutions placed Queen’s in the top 20 for research quality and impact. It also confirmed that over 75% of the institutions research is world-class or internationally leading with over 95% of Queen’s academic staff returned for assessment, the University has 14 subject areas ranked within the UK’s top 20 with six of these in the top 10, and two in the top five.
The Times Higher Education rankings 2015/16 placed Queen’s 200th in world and in 2014 reported it in the top 25 most international universities. In the 2016 QS World University Rankings Queen's was ranked 182nd..
In the National Student Survey 2013, Queen's was ranked 12th in the UK for student satisfaction.
Queen's is ranked in the top 200 universities in the world according to the 2015-16 QS World University Rankings. They also commended Queen's for its leadership role in society and its life-changing research. The University is a global player in areas from cancer studies to sustainability, wireless technology to creative writing and from pharmaceuticals to sonic arts. In the same year the university ranked 36th in the UK (The Complete University Guide 2016).
The university has also been awarded by the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education on several occasions, including for their work in comprehensive cancer services improving survival rates for patients in Northern Ireland. In 2015, Queen's was awarded for its work in the field of engineering and technology
Entrants to Queen's have, on average, 359 A/AS-level points and there are currently 5.3 applications per place. The Sunday Times has described the Queen's admissions policy as "among the most socially inclusive in Britain and Northern Ireland". 99.5% of first degree entrants are from state schools, although this is mainly due to the lack of private schools in Northern Ireland. The university gives offers of admission to 86.1% of its applicants, the 3rd highest amongst the Russell Group.
In the 2014/2015 academic year, the total student population was 23,853, of whom 18,857 were undergraduates and 4,996 postgraduates. Of the overall student population in 2014/15, 22,203 were from the EU, with the remaining 1,650 non-EU students. There was also a total student population of 2,250 at the University's St Mary's and Stranmillis University Colleges as of 2013/2014.
Queen's was established as a non-sectarian institution, with the aim of attracting both Protestant and Catholic students. While the university does not publish data on the religion affiliation of its students, Rupert Taylor, who conducted his PhD research on the university during The Troubles, argued in an article published in 1988 that "Whilst in the past, especially before the Second World War, Catholics were under-represented this is not currently the case". Taylor cites data showing that Catholic representation amongst undergraduates rose from 21.9 per cent in 1958/59 to 27.4 per cent in 1968/69 and 42.5 per cent in 1978/79. By the late 1990s, 54 per cent of Queen's students were Catholics, compared to a 48 per cent share of the Northern Ireland population aged 18–25. The growing share of Catholics in the student population is in part due to the tendency of middle-class Protestants to go to university in Great Britain rather than Northern Ireland.
In 2009, Queen's signed a joint venture partnership with INTO University Partnerships, creating INTO Queen's University Belfast. The INTO centre is based on campus and provides a foundation year for international students who want to study at the University.
The Students' Union at Queen's (QUBSU) is located opposite the Lanyon Building on University Road, and is provided for under the University's Statutes. All students at the University are automatic members of the Union, making it one of the largest Unions on a single campus in Ireland and the UK. It is administered by the Students' Representative Council (SRC) (elected every October, on a Faculty basis) and an Executive (elected in March), who manage the operations of the Union in conjunction with several full-time staff.
A range of services are provided by the Students' Union following its reopening in March 2007 after a £9 million redevelopment, including an Advice Centre with full-time staff to help with issues such as money problems, accommodation and welfare. Commercial services are also provided for by the Union and include a shop, canteen and coffee franchise. There are also four bars within the building, the biggest of which, the Mandela Hall, hosts numerous concerts each year as well as the majority the Students' Union's club nights.
More than fifty sporting clubs and over 100 non-sporting societies are recognised by the Student's Union Council and therefore eligible to apply for an annual grant from the University. The oldest society in Queen's University is the Literary and Scientific Society which focuses on debating political, cultural and social issues within Northern Ireland. Established in 1850 by Edwin Lawrence Godkin, the society has been very successful and produced some of the finest orators within Northern Ireland. The Dragonslayers Gaming Society hosts one of Ireland's largest games conventions, Q-Con, in June of each year, and cultural groups such as An Cumann Gaelach and the Ulster-Scots Society are also present.
The Queen's University Mountaineering Club is notable for producing three Everest summiteers including Ireland's first, Dawson Stelfox. Roger McMorrow and Nigel Hart also summited in May 2007, and were subsequently jointly announced Queen's University Graduates of the year for 2006/07 for their role in rescuing a young Nepalese climber left for dead near the summit.
QUB is one of only 20 Universities in the United Kingdom to have the privilege of an AIESEC Local Chapter, developing leadership, business and soft skills in highly motivated students, as well as providing international opportunities through their work abroad program.
Queen's provides housing for both undergraduates and postgraduates, although because of the compact size of Northern Ireland many students chose to live at home and commute to the university. In 2005/06, 36% of Queen's students lived in private accommodation within Belfast, 29% lived with parents or guardians, 20% in private accommodation outside of Belfast, and 10% lived in university maintained accommodation.
The university provides accommodation on a purpose-built 'student village' called Elms Village, which has its own bar and shop, located on the Malone Road, south of the main campus, as well as in a number of houses in the South Belfast area, including at College Gardens and on Mount Charles.
The university had hosted the annual Belfast Festival at Queen's since 1961 but it was announced in March 2015 that Queen's would not continue with the festival. In 2007 the university held the Irish Student Drama Association Festival. It runs the Queen's Film Theatre, which has been described as Northern Ireland's leading independent cinema, the Brian Friel Theatre and an art gallery, the Naughton Gallery at Queen's, which is a registered museum. In 2008 the Naughton Gallery was awarded the Times Higher Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. Housed in the Lanyon building since 2001 is a marble statue by Pio Fedi of the great physicist Galileo, portrayed deep in thought.
Queen's Physical Education Centre (abbreviated to and known widely as the PEC) recently went through an extension program was awarded 'Best Building 2007' by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland. It is one of the largest sports centres in the British Isles. This building houses many squash courts, several climbing walls and is home to QUB's senior men's and women's basketball teams.
The University Playing Fields, also known as Malone Playing Fields, is located just over 2 miles (3.2 km) from the main campus, comprising 17 pitches for rugby, association football, Gaelic football, hockey, hurling, camogie and cricket. In addition, there are three netball courts, nine tennis courts and an athletics arena where the Mary Peters Track is situated. The area and its surrounding forest of Barnetts Demesne are mapped for orienteering.
Queen's Gaelic football team have won several Sigerson Cups, most recently in 2007. The university's association football team, Queen's University Belfast A.F.C., play in the Irish Second Division. Queen's snooker team have won the British intervarsity title on a record nine occasions and are the current champions.
Queen's University Belfast Boat Club is one of the most successful clubs in the University. The QUB boathouse, home of Queen's University Belfast Boat Club (QUBBC) and Queen's University of Belfast Ladies Boat Club (QUBLBC), is located on the River Lagan near Stranmillis. In 2010 they were reigning Irish Champions in men's Intermediate and Senior 8's. They are also reigning Irish University Champions in Men's Senior 8's, Women's Novice 8's and Women's Novice 4's. They are the only rowing club in Ireland to have a full-time rowing coach.
The graphic identity, which includes the logotype, was originally created in 2000 by Lloyd Northover, the British design consultancy founded by John Lloyd (graphic designer) and Jim Northover. This identity was updated in 2011 by Belfast-based brand consultancy, Mammoth.
Queen's has a large number of now-famous alumni, including former President of Ireland Mary McAleese; Nobel Prize winners poet Seamus Heaney and politician Lord Trimble; former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Lord Faulkner of Downpatrick; Lords Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Lord Hutton and Lord Kerr of Tonaghmore, Justice of The Supreme Court of United Kingdom; former Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly Lord Alderdice and former and current Northern Ireland ministers Sir Reg Empey, Mark Durkan, Nigel Dodds and Conor Murphy, and former Irish Free State minister and prominent Sinn Féin member Eoin MacNeill. Irish Ambassador to Nigeria Sean Hoy graduated from Queen's.
Other alumni include poet Paul Muldoon; actors Liam Neeson and Stephen Rea; comedian and presenter Patrick Kielty; novelists Patrick Hicks and Brian McGilloway; broadcasters Nick Ross and Annie Mac; scientists John Stewart Bell, Frank Pantridge and Thomas Henry Flewett. Other alumni include John Bodkin Adams, Trevor Ringland and David Cullen (2007 winners of the Arthur Ashe for Courage Award), David Case (Air Commodore, the highest ranking Black officer in the British Armed forces) and Tim Collins (former Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Regiment). Drew Nelson Current Grand Secretary of the Orange Order
Notable academics who have worked at Queen's include Paul Bew, Baron Bew, Sir Bernard Crossland, Tony Hoare, Michael Mann, poet and critic Philip Hobsbaum, John H. Whyte and writer Philip Larkin was a sub-librarian at the university in the early 1950s.
Four alumni had very long and distinguished careers in the Far East. Sir Robert Hart was the Inspector-General of China's Imperial Maritime Customs for almost 50 years. Sir Hiram Shaw Wilkinson served in British Consular Service in China and Japan for 40 years retiring as Chief Justice of the British Supreme Court for China and Corea. Sir James Russell was Chief Justice of Hong Kong. John Carey Hall served in the British Japan Consular Service for more than 40 years retiring as consul-general in Yokohama.
In 2014, Queen’s announced the opening of China Medical University - Queen's University Belfast Joint College (CQC), a partnership between Queen’s School of Pharmacy and China Medical University (CMU) in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. CMU, had a long-standing relationship with the Queen's University's School of Pharmacy at Queen's prior to the joint college. Queen's also has links with Shenzhen University, which began in 1998 and continues to prepare approximately 40 students per year for a degree at Queen's.
Queen's participates in the European Union's ERASMUS programme, allowing undergraduate students to study for a period at universities in Austria, Finland, Iceland, Portugal, Belgium, France, Italy, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, the Czech Republic, Greece, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland. Queen's is also part of the Utrecht Network which works towards the internationalisation of higher education. The university also has exchange programmes with Fordham University School of Law in New York, USA, the University of Newcastle and the University of Tasmania in Australia, and two universities in Canada: Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, and the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta. Ching Yun University in Zhongli District, Taoyuan City, Taiwan, lists Queen's as a 'sister institution'. The university is also a member of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe (T.I.M.E.) Association.
Queen's takes part in the British Council's Business Education Initiative study-abroad scheme sending a number of undergraduate students to study business and related subjects at participating higher-education institutions in the United States.