Academics dressed in robes meet Her Majesty The Queen inside Buckingham Palace
Professor Marika Taylor and Professor Paul Bowen receive The Queen's Anniversary Prize from Her Majesty The Queen.

The University of Birmingham received the award, the highest national honour for a UK institution in higher and further education, for its longstanding partnership with Rolls-Royce. The Prize recognises excellence, innovation, and benefit to the wider world and the public.

Her Majesty The Queen presented Professor Marika Taylor, Pro-Vice Chancellor and Head of College of Engineering and Physical Sciences and Professor Paul Bowen, Feeney Professor of Metallurgy, with the medal and citation for the award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Professor Marika Taylor said: "Today's presentation marks a significant milestone in our relationship with Rolls-Royce, recognising the exceptional contribution of the partnership to the UK aerospace industry with the highest honour in education. It is a testament to the dedication and expertise of the hundreds of staff and students who have developed this partnership over three decades, and I am delighted for them all."

Also attending the ceremony were Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, Chancellor of the University of Birmingham, and representatives from the High-Temperature Research Centre (HTRC) and Rolls-Royce, including Professor Nick Green (HTRC), Mark Jefferies (Rolls-Royce), Dr Hangyue Li and Dr Dmytro Shevchenko (HTRC), as well as former and current postgraduate students Emma Jones (Rolls-Royce), Alice Thorne and Cheuk Lee (University of Birmingham).

The University's nomination, 'Supporting sustainable UK manufacturing of aero-engines,' outlined the scope of the partnership, which spans two generations and has played a pivotal role in transforming the UK aerospace industry, enhancing advanced manufacturing research capability through developing world-class infrastructure, providing global competitive advantage and creating highly skilled jobs in the UK.

Our partnership with Rolls Royce by the numbers:

  • Established 34 years ago in 1989.
  • Today, the partnership spans 70 Academic Staff, 30 Postgraduate Students, and 120 Rolls-Royce employees working to enhance the scientific understanding of the metallic alloys used for safety-critical components in aero engines.
  • Opened in 2015, a 5,800 sqm High Temperate Research Centre sits at the heart of the partnership, enabling production-scale research and experimentation.
  • Over 100 PhD students have been employed by Rolls-Royce upon graduation.
  • It has produced over 100 patents, delivering a significant competitive advantage to Rolls-Royce.
  • The work is crucial to developing future generations of efficient engines to meet 2050 net-zero emissions targets.

As well as significant scientific advances and the training of the next generation of metallurgy experts, the partnership is also working to address gender imbalance in a traditionally male-dominated area. The partnership is attracting more females than ever to study engineering supports them in the workforce. Despite fierce global competition, the partnership has played a pre-eminent role in retaining Rolls-Royce research and technology in materials within the UK. 

Sir Damon Buffini, Chair of 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!"

The latest award is the fourth for the University of Birmingham, with awards in 1996, 2011 and 2017 for research spanning archaeology, formulation engineering and railways, respectively.

Read more about our Queens Anniversary Prizes and partnership with Rolls-Royce.