Queen’s Anniversary Prize for the Centre for Robert Burns Studies

Published: 16 November 2023

The University of Glasgow has been awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education for the work of the world’s leading centre for the study of Scotland’s national poet.

An image of the Queen's Anniversary Prize 2023 winner - The Centre for Robert Burns Studies which features a stained glass image of the poet Robert Burns

The University of Glasgow has been awarded a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education for the work of the world’s leading centre for the study of Scotland’s national poet.

The Prize was awarded to the University in recognition of the range and impact of the projects undertaken at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies, chiefly Editing and Curating Burns for the 21st Century.

The Queen's Anniversary Prizes celebrate excellence, innovation and public benefit in work carried out by UK colleges and universities. The Prizes – which showcase the positive impact of research on education, the economy and wider society – are the highest national Honour awarded in UK further and higher education and are granted every two years. They are run by the Royal Anniversary Trust, an independent charity.

Colleagues at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies said: “We’re thrilled and honoured that Burns Studies at Glasgow has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize. The team have worked extremely hard to channel our unique concentration of expertise to create a world-leading research centre, illuminating Burns’s life, works, economic impact and legacy through interdisciplinary scholarship, cutting-edge teaching, and wide-reaching knowledge exchange activity with a worldwide network of scholars, Burns enthusiasts and stakeholders.

“This very significant endorsement of Burns Studies at Glasgow means a great deal to us insofar as it recognises the cultural significance of Burns as a national and international poet and the impact of our major research projects to secure and evolve Burns’s textual, economic, and wider cultural legacies for the 21st century.

“We are excited by the possibility that an honour such as this will draw yet further attention to Burns’s iconic international status, and it’s our intention to harness this to catapult Burns Studies into yet another new and exciting phase of research.”

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Glasgow said: “I am delighted and proud that the Royal Anniversary Trust has seen fit to honour the incredible work of our Centre for Robert Burns Studies with one of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize awards. I congratulate the entire team at CRBS - colleagues, students, partners, and alumni - on this richly deserved recognition.

“Burns’s enduring appeal continues to drive interest not just in his work and life, but in Scotland as a whole, which has in turn helped to drive tourism, economic benefit and has positioned our Centre as a leader in research, innovation, and education in this field.

He added: “The University is truly honoured to have these efforts recognised and this wonderful news means that the University of Glasgow now has six Queen’s Anniversary Prizes and has been successful in four of the past six rounds of the Prizes. I am proud of - and grateful to - everyone across the University who has played a part in this success.”

Professor Jo Gill, Vice-Principal, and the Head of the College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Glasgow, said: “It is a superb honour for our colleagues and students at the Centre for Robert Burns Studies to be recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize.  

“It is also a great example of the University’s continued commitment to supporting world-leading research in the Arts and Humanities.

“This award is well deserved recognition for the commitment of our staff and students over many years to the scholarship of Scotland’s acclaimed poet and to the Centre’s work in engaging a new generation of readers from around the world.”

This is the 6th time that the University of Glasgow has won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize. Previously the University won in 1994, 1998, 2013, 2017 and 2021.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize scheme is unique in the honours systems in that it is granted to an institution as a whole (irrespective of the area of work recognised). This is the 15th round being celebrated, with the Prize winners due to receive their awards at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace in February 2024.

The Prizes are managed by The Royal Anniversary Trust, which is an independent charity. The Trust was established in 1990 to create a national programme of educational activities and other events marking the 40th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s accession in 1992 and in appreciation of her many years of service as Head of State.

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of The Royal Anniversary Trust said: “The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education are an integral part of our national Honours system, shining a light on the groundbreaking work taking place in universities and colleges across the UK. All 22 Prize-winners demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact, with many tackling some of the toughest problems we as a society face today. They are to be commended for reaching this pinnacle of achievement in the tertiary education sector. Congratulations!”

Born in 1759 in Alloway Ayrshire, Robert Burns is one of the world’s most celebrated and commemorated poets. His poems and songs have been translated into every major language including Russian, German, French and Chinese. Burns’s influence has extended far beyond Scotland with some 9.5 million people worldwide estimated to attend Burns Suppers annually. Burns’s version of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ – the New Year anthem - has been performed by everyone from Elvis Presley to Jimi Hendrix.

In January 2020, a report by the Centre for Robert Burns Studies revealed Scotland’s national bard is worth just over £200 million a year to the Scottish economy and the poet’s brand is worth nearly £140 million annually.

Editing and Curating Robert Burns for the 21st Century

The Centre for Robert Burns Studies (CRBS) is the world’s leading centre for the study of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns (1759-96), his contexts and associated literatures.

Establishing itself as a cross-disciplinary area of research excellence which has attracted major financial and intellectual investment, CRBS has brought together the largest concentration of Burns experts in the world and their work has impact on a global scale.

CRBS’s scholarship has revolutionised understanding of Burns’s creative processes by examining for the first time all surviving manuscript and early-print witnesses across the entire canon of his prose, song, correspondence and poetry, illuminating this research for a worldwide audience via a suite of specially commissioned performances and digital resources.

The Centre was established in 2007 by Professor Gerard Carruthers who was joined in 2009 by Co-Director Professor Kirsteen McCue. In 2022 Co-Directorship of the Centre passed to Professor Rhona Brown and Dr Pauline Mackay, supported by Associate Director Dr Ronnie Young. Major research projects have also been led by Professor Murray Pittock and Professor Nigel Leask, with extensive scholarly contributions by Dr Clark McGinn and Dr Craig Lamont.

The team have been supported over the years by several talented and dynamic Research Associates and Postgraduate Research Students including:

  • Dr Joel Ambroisine
  • Dr Carol Baraniuk
  • Dr James Caudle
  • Dr Alex Deans
  • Dr Kevin Gallagher
  • Dr Moira Hansen
  • Dr Jonathan Henderson
  • Dr Paul Malgrati
  • Dr Gerard McKeever
  • Dr Ralph McLean
  • Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland
  • Dr Arun Sood
  • Dr Vivienne Williams

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education

The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes are part of the UK’s national Honours system, recognising outstanding work by UK colleges and universities which demonstrates excellence and innovation and delivers real benefit to the wider world. Open to eligible

universities and colleges of Further and Higher Education in the United Kingdom, the Prizes may be awarded in any field of study. First awarded in 1994, the Prizes are granted every two years by the Sovereign on the advice of the Prime Minister

following a rigorous and independent process of review carried out by The Royal Anniversary Trust, an independent charity. The winners of the fifteenth round were announced at St James’s Palace on 16 November, 2023; the Prizes will be presented at a formal Honours ceremony in February 2024. 

First published: 16 November 2023