Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022: university sector pays tribute

Higher education institutions around the world mark passing of UK’s longest-reigning monarch

September 9, 2022
Queen Elizabeth II
Source: Getty

Universities around the world have issued tributes following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

The UK’s longest-serving monarch died at Balmoral on 8 September aged 96, after reigning for 70 years.

She had visited numerous university campuses across the UK and the Commonwealth since taking the throne in 1952, and also served as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).

Long-planned arrangements for the sector to mark the Queen’s passing are now being put into action.

Steve West, the president of Universities UK, said: “It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Her remarkable and unrivalled reign leaves an enduring legacy for the nation and our universities.  

“Her Majesty was an ardent supporter of universities and of education as a force for good. Through her patronage of The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes over three decades, she celebrated and promoted the impact and benefits of higher and further education for students, communities, the economy and wider society. She also recognised the role universities play in building an understanding of different countries, cultures and the importance of global networks, exemplified by her role as patron of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

“Universities, students and staff will be sharing their memories of Her Majesty in the days ahead – from her visits to university campuses in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland during her 70-year reign, to the many individuals working in our sector who have been recognised for their contributions through the Honours system.

“This is a sad day for our nation, and our thoughts are particularly with members of the Royal Family at this time.” 

As well as being Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II was also head of state of 14 other Commonwealth realms.

Jan Thomas, chair of Universities New Zealand, said: “Her 70-year reign was extraordinary, serving her people with such grace and dignity. Our thoughts are very much with her family.”

Professor Thomas recalled meeting the Queen in 2013 when she was chair of the ACU’s managing council. “She took real interest in our work and deeply understood the role universities play as civic institutions, building nations,” Professor Thomas said.

In a statement, the ACU sent its “deepest condolences” to the Royal Family.

“Through Her Majesty’s continued patronage, the ACU has provided a forum for global universities to share information, knowledge and ideas, and make a critical contribution to sustainable development across the Commonwealth and beyond. To mark our centenary in 2013, Her Majesty hosted a reception in celebration of youth, education and the Commonwealth at Buckingham Palace,” the organisation said.

“The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships (QECS) were named after Her Majesty in 2019, as a fitting tribute to her immense contribution as head of the Commonwealth, and her long-standing dedication to education and youth. The scheme offers fully funded Master’s scholarships in low and middle income Commonwealth countries, providing life-changing opportunities for young leaders with the energy and talent to drive positive change in their home countries and beyond. Her Majesty signed certificates for QECS alumni in 2021, in further recognition of the crucial role that the scheme plays in connecting people and nations across the Commonwealth.”


Register to continue

Why register?

  • Registration is free and only takes a moment
  • Once registered, you can read 3 articles a month
  • Sign up for our newsletter
Please Login or Register to read this article.

Related articles

For centuries Regius chairs were the gift of kings, tools of statecraft and the preserve of ancient universities. But that has changed, most recently with the addition of 12 new professorships, as Richard J. Evans relates

7 February