Glasgow named Times Higher Education University of the Year 2020

We are thrilled to have been named Times Higher Education (THE) University of the Year 2020.

Our work to redress our historic links to slavery through a significant programme of reparative justice helped us to secure the prestigious title. In September 2018, in a UK first, the University of Glasgow published a report based on comprehensive research conducted by historians Professor Simon Newman and Dr Stephen Mullen in our College of Arts which also set out a proactive programme of reparative justice recommendations.

The THE awards, widely referred to as the 'Oscars of Higher Education', shine a spotlight on the exceptional achievements of individuals, teams and institutions working in Higher Education.

The judges hailed Glasgow as a "hugely deserving" University of the Year. "At a time when universities are too often on the back foot in public debates about value and relevance, Glasgow stood out as a shining example of what a university should be: institutions of courage and action, uniquely placed to tackle the biggest issues facing the world," they said.

"By taking a moral position and leading the way in facing up to the legacy of slavery and making amends, it has set the bar high both for itself and for all universities."

In his acceptance speech, Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, our Principal and Vice-Chancellor, outlined his gratitude on behalf of the University, and offered specific thanks to our strategic partners.

"I am extremely grateful to our students, staff and partners in the University of the West Indies, in the city of Glasgow and our advisory board who have worked to make this initiative a reality."

UofG Principal's Acceptance Speech

Programme of reparative justice

In September 2018, we published a report based on comprehensive research conducted by historians Professor Simon Newman and Dr Stephen Mullen into our historic links into slavery.

That report, called Slavery, Abolition and the University of Glasgow, was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. It acknowledged that whilst the University played a leading role in the abolitionist movement in the 18th and 19th centuries, the institution also received significant financial support, between £16m−200m in today’s money, from people whose wealth was derived, in part, from slavery.

While acknowledging these historical benefits, the University choose to enact a programme of reparative justice including:

  • The establishment of The Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of the West Indies in 2019. The partnership commits the University of Glasgow to raising and spending £20 million over the next 20 years. It is expected that the bulk of the funding will come from research grants and benefactions and that the Centre will be self-supporting.
  • The naming of our flagship Learning and Teaching building for 19th century alumnus Dr James McCune Smith, who was born into slavery but went on to become the first African American in the world to be awarded a medical degree.
  • The setting up of scholarships for UK students of African and Caribbean heritage.
  • The unveiling of a plaque to the enslaved in our Cloisters to mark the fact that the Gilmorehill base of the University was built on the site of a house called Gilmorehill House, owned by a notorious 18th century slaveowner.