The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (Senate building). Inset: Sir Malcolm Rifkind (YouTube).The Institute of Commonwealth Studies (Senate building). Inset: Sir Malcolm Rifkind (YouTube).

The University of London has announced a 10-person committee to conduct an inquiry into the future of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London. The announcement was made by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Wendy Thompson, following calls for the university to reconsider its October 2020 announcement of its proposal to close the institute.

The team will be chaired by former UK Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Other members of the committee are:

  • Lord Boateng – Former British High Commissioner to South Africa
  • Dr Anne Therese Gallagher, AO – Director General, Commonwealth Foundation
  • Dr Nabeel Goheer – Assistant Secretary-General, The Commonwealth Secretariat
  • Professor Asha Kanwar – President and CEO, Commonwealth of Learning
  • Mr Michael Kirby AC CMG – Former Justice of the High Court of Australia
  • Lord Luce – Former Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham
  • Dr Joanna Newman – Chief Executive and Secretary General, The Association of Commonwealth Universities
  • Sir Ronald Sanders  – Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States
  • Mr Stephen Twigg – Secretary-General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA)

The terms of reference are:

  • To consider future provision at the University of London for Commonwealth Studies in terms of focus, purpose, structure and functions
  • To recommend partnerships to support scholarship in this area and ensure its relevance and impact;
  • To identify potential viable sources of sustainable funding beyond the University and short-term research grants.

The committee is scheduled to hold its first meeting on 21 January. It will hear evidence from across the Commonwealth and submit its report and recommendations by June 2021.

The announcement of plans to close the Institute sparked an outcry from Commonwealth associations and a statement from the editorial board of the Round Table.

In the statement announcing the establishment of the review committee, the Vice-Chancellor said: “Over the last two months we’ve met with a range of stakeholders with Commonwealth affiliations who have shown a renewed interest in the future of the Institute and a commitment to supporting the study of the modern Commonwealth”.

In his December statement, Sir Malcolm Rifkind said: “I am very much looking forward to chairing this Inquiry. Commonwealth studies are important to the future wellbeing of the Commonwealth. “We will aim to make recommendations that will work well for the University of London and strengthen the Commonwealth for the years ahead.”

The University of London said that the committee will invite submissions from interested organisations and individuals. These can be submitted directly to the committee via its secretary, Dr Conor Wyer: [email protected].

Related articles:

University of London announcement

Sir Ronald Sanders on appointment to the committee – Antigua news

Closing the Institute of Commonwealth Studies a retrograde step – Opinion, Round Table Journal

Round Table Editorial Board on the proposed closure