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The UK 1994 group has announced its dissolution earlier this month. An official statement was issued by the 1994 group’s to declare the disbandment of the group after 19 years of cooperation. The 1994 group itself, declares that “the need for the Group as originally constituted no longer exists” and that “individual institutions will continue to collaborate between themselves and with other institutions on specific projects and issues as they arise.”
As the name indicates, the group was established in 1994 as a form of cooperation between smaller research-intensive universities, following the creation of the Russell Group (the so called UK ‘Ivy League’) in the same year. The 1994 group saw perceived itself always as a voice of sanity in the British higher education discourse, trying to defend the interests of smaller research-intensive universities and its students. At the time of founding, the 1994 group consisted of 17 members but over the years an increasing number of members left the group. Whereas between 2004 and 2008 three members decided to leave the group, five new members joined in. In 2012 the group slowly started to crumble as seven of the founding members left the group, out of which four joined the Russell Group. However, there has never been a full-fledged rivalry between the two groups, as they have never constituted two monolithic blocks. For instance, the London School of Economics and the University of Warwick were founding members of both groups.
Given the drop-out of seven members two years ago, the 1994 group’s disbandment does not come as a complete surprise. Nevertheless, it leaves behind some sort of emptiness in the British higher education landscape which has lost an important player defending the interests of smaller higher education institutions.