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1994 Group stops just short of 20th anniversary

  

The 1994 Group of smaller, research-intensive universities has announced that it is to disband.

The mission group lost eight members last year, of which four went to the Russell Group of large, research-intensive universities. However, the remaining 11 member institutions of the 1994 Group pledged to stay until a policy objective was established.

“The group was founded at a time of real change [in higher education] and so it comes to an end at another point of significant change,” reads a statement from the board, published on 8 November. “Collectively, we have taken the decision to bring the 1994 Group to an end, because as institutions we have expanded and changed over time to the point where the need for the group as originally constituted no longer exists.”

The all-male board comprises academics from several University of London institutions, the University of Leicester and Lancaster University. Its chairman is Michael Farthing, vice-chancellor of the University of Sussex.

The statement continues: “We leave the group as friends and colleagues as convinced as ever that the universities we representcommitted to traditional academic rigour and excellence in research, determined to make a global mark and to deliver a high-quality student experiencewill continue to prosper.”

The group’s final members are Birkbeck, Goldsmiths, Royal Holloway, the Institute of Education and the School of Oriental and African Studies from the University of London, and the University of East Anglia, the University of Essex, Lancaster University, the University of Leicester, Loughborough University and the University of Sussex.

But the 1994 Group’s statement says that the organisation has come to a natural end. “Our individual institutions will continue to collaborate between themselves and with other institutions on specific projects and issues as they arise. On behalf of our institutions we look forward to continuing collaboration with you in the years ahead.”

Mark Fuller, who left his post as director of communications at the group in December 2012, told Research Fortnight in April this year that it would be difficult for the group to keep going if one or two more institutions wished to leave. “They’d reach a point where, unless the remaining members decided to substantially raise their subscription rate, they won’t be able to carry on,” he says.

He added that the most important thing for the group would be to find consensus around one particular issue to drive them. “Unless there’s a compelling mission that every member wants to commit to, it would be very hard for them to continue.”

A spokeswoman from the group said that neither the group nor its executive director Alex Bols had any further comment.