Bath withdraws from the 1994 Group

This afternoon, Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Bath* made the following announcement (emphasis mine):


I have today informed the Chair of the 1994 Group of universities, Professor Michael Farthing, of our decision to withdraw from membership of the group.

We have been an active member of the group of 15 research intensive universities since its formation in 1994, helping to promote our common interests in higher education and to share best methods and practice.

However, following a period of reflection and consultation with colleagues, we have concluded that continuing our membership of the 1994 Group does not reflect the type of University we are, nor sit well with the future direction of the University’s strategy.

Where appropriate, we will continue to be involved in existing collaboration initiatives with other leading universities (such as the SETSquared initiative) and are actively exploring future opportunities to work together with colleagues regionally, nationally and internationally in support of our mission to deliver world class research and teaching.

This is a bold statement. Bath see themselves as one of the “research-intensive” universities (with some justification, especially in light of recent league performance), but are not members of the “elite” Russell Group of 24 institutions. Furthermore, this is another snub for the 1994 Group, following four of its members joining the Russell Group in March.

Maybe being unaligned is the new ethos; but thinking more broadly for the UK HE sector, this calls into question the value of the other university groups (1994 Group, Million+ and University Alliance) if the only thing that counts (especially from the UK government’s perspective) is being a member of the Russell Group. Has the Russell Group now moved from being a lobby group to a “badge of honour” (or perhaps morphed back into the old CVCP)?

Finally, with increasing divergence in higher education policy in the devolved nations, will the Russell Group inherently become more Anglo-centric?

* my alma mater

3 Comments

  1. The four universities have left the 1994 Group, which represents smaller, mainly campus-based, research-intensive universities, to join the Russell Group of elite universities.

  2. Entering the 2008 RAE with only 500 staff across only 18 subjects does not make the Unviersity of Bath “research intensive”. Better to go it alone than be tagged alongside mediocre institutions that make up the rest of the 94 group

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