Top universities unite for success


The University of Birmingham and the University of Nottingham have announced a new framework for collaboration.

The partnership will see the comprehensive large research-led universities working together for mutual success in a range of different areas, including research initiatives, student experience, business engagement and internationalisation.

The Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham have many complementary strengths and an established and successful record of joint collaboration across a range of research areas. Both share characteristics of scale, history, outstanding research, high quality student experience and international engagement.

As UK higher education faces its most challenging time for a generation, this signature partnership will offer a distinctive approach to working together – where it is in both universities’ mutual interest to do so. Creative approaches to developing intellectual capital are at the heart of the partnership.

Distinctive features of the partnership include the potential breadth of collaborative areas, the depth of commitment and wide scope it allows staff to work together. While it is important strategically, the partnership does not prevent the Universities from working with other leading institutions.

The framework for collaboration will see the Universities working together in six areas:

  • joint academic appointments
  • teaching, learning and student experience
  • research initiatives
  • international opportunities, including emerging markets and student mobility
  • business engagement and knowledge transfer
  • management and administration.

Professor David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said: “The partnership is aimed at promoting and facilitating collaboration. UK higher education faces increasing challenges in the coming years to enhance the provision of services and facilities to students and staff in a more constrained funding environment. This collaboration will enable both universities to explore opportunities to share best practice and to diversify income streams. It is about strengthening both Universities’ research and teaching offer and improving management and administration by working together.”

Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nottingham, said:

“Academics instinctively collaborate, and this is an opportunity for us to send a much stronger signal about collaboration within our institutions – to build on existing links and develop new ones. There are significant opportunities to leverage each other’s strengths. The international domain is a very good example because both institutions do things slightly differently and have activities that don’t overlap in a global context. While we have overseas campuses in China and Malaysia, Birmingham has a bigger footprint in North America, so the new framework for collaboration opens up new opportunities for both institutions.”

Both Vice-Chancellors stressed that the Universities were not merging. They will collaborate in areas where it is mutually beneficial to do so but will maintain their distinct identities and strengths as large, comprehensive, research-intensive institutions. This partnership matters strategically but does not prevent either university from working with other leading institutions. The University of Birmingham continues to collaborate closely with the University of Warwick and overseas with the likes of the University of Chicago and NorthWestern University; Nottingham also works with Loughborough, Warwick and a number of China’s leading Universities including Tsinghua.

The two institutions have already established a successful record of joint collaboration, including involvement in the Midlands Physics Alliance, the Manufacturing Technology Centre, and the Midlands Energy Consortium. Nottingham and Birmingham are also formal partners in two large Research Council-supported Doctoral Training Centres, one in the area of Efficient Fossil Energy Technology, the other in the applications of Hydrogen and Fuel Cells.