New Regius professorships announced for 12 universities

Twelve “outstanding” university departments are set to receive Regius professorships to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last year, the Cabinet Office has announced.

The award increases the number of institutions to hold such positions from the seven to 19 and follows a competitive application process launched in October.

Four of the positions will be in London: in engineering at Imperial College London, in economics at the London Schools of Economics and Political Science, in music at Royal Holloway, University of London, and in psychiatry at King’s College London.

Outside the capital the University of Dundee will receive a professorship in the life sciences, as will the University of Manchester in physics, the University of Essex in political science and the University of Reading in meteorology and climate science.

Professorships will also be established in the computer science department at the University of Southampton, in electronic engineering at the University of Surrey, in mathematics at the University of Warwick and in open education at the Open University.

The Queen will award the positions in recognition of departments’ excellence in research and teaching.

Only six professorships were originally foreseen, but the high quality of applications led to a doubling of the final number, said a spokesman for the Cabinet Office.

Regius professorships are traditionally created when a university chair is founded or endowed by a royal patron. They come with no extra funding but enable universities to use the title.

Before this award, only two Regius professorships were awarded in the last century, both at the University of Cambridge. Before that Queen Victoria was the last monarch to bestow the title.

Previously the professorships were concentrated in just seven universities across the UK and Ireland: the universities of Aberdeen, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, St Andrews and Trinity College Dublin.

According to the Cabinet Office, applications were judged on the university’s excellence in the proposed discipline and the recognition the department’s work had gained, as well as whether there was the opportunity to mark a significant event in the history of the discipline or institution.

Applications were judged by a panel of academics led by Sir Graeme Davies, chair of the Higher Education Policy Institute and former vice-chancellor of the University of London, alongside Lord Broers of Cambridge, Lord Rees of Ludlow and Lord Sutherland of Houndwood.

Chloe Smith, the minister for political and constitutional reform, said she was “bowled over” by the response from universities. “The submissions we received were incredibly strong, which is why we advised the Queen to create twice as many Regius professorships than originally planned,” she said.

“The 12 institutions can consider themselves truly deserving of this great honour,” she added.

Each institution can give the title to an existing professor at the chosen department or appoint a new professor to hold the title.

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