The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Edge Hill University and Lancaster University have all been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021, widely considered the Oscars of the higher education sector.
This years THE awards celebrate achievements during the 2019-20 academic year (the COVID-19 pandemic period), and attracted a record 600 entries from UK higher education institutes, with successful nominees exemplifying the talent, dedication and innovation of individuals and teams across all aspects of university life.
Triple-nominated UCLan has been shortlisted in the categories ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’, as well as ‘Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year’ for Senior Lecturer in Sport, PE and the Outdoors, Dr Clive Palmer, and ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’, for Dr David Wareing, a lecturer in Medical Microbiology.
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Commenting on the nomination, Dr Palmer said: “It is an honour to be shortlisted for this prestigious Times Higher Award, and with it, such a privilege to have supervised (and be working with currently) such talented people on their research projects. In truth, their ideas are so vibrant and exciting, they make me look good! I am over the moon to receive this external recognition for my efforts in the postgraduate learning experience and wish to thank colleagues for their generous support."
Dr Wareing, whose teaching included using the quidditch world cup tournament, and microbiology escape rooms, added: “I am absolutely delighted. I am also really grateful for the support of colleagues and the wonderful feedback from students on how they have enjoyed the learning experiences that we have created for them.”
Responding on behalf of the University, Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Baldwin said: “What fantastic achievements for both Clive and David as well as everyone connected with the University. As these award nominations testify, even during a global pandemic, our innovative ‘can do’ approach with a focus on providing the best possible student experience continues to shine through.
“I feel incredibly proud that UCLan is one of only a handful of universities to achieve three or more THE nominations and shows our growing confidence, talent and stature within the sector.”
Edge Hill University has also been recognised in the 'Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community' category, as well as 'Support for Students', with the university's support package being redesigned in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Throughout the year, more than £300,000 was invested to provide free laptops, headsets, dongles and software, £4 million in accommodation costs were waived and wellbeing support was increased significantly, including the creation of TogetherAll, a 24/7 online community to support mental health.
Vice-Chancellor Dr John Cater said: “We take our position in the local and wider community very seriously and will continue to support that community, socially, culturally and economically, from the dedicated education of our students to the ground-breaking research we carry out.
“We were, and still are, determined to do whatever we can to minimise the negative impact of Covid-19.
“Support for students was ramped up during the pandemic, with the University rapidly developing a comprehensive student support package designed to provide maximum assistance and reassurance to students at a very challenging time.”
Meanwhile, Lancaster University is also shortlisted in the categories of ‘Outstanding Library Team’ and ‘Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year’, where Professor Corina Sas from the school of Computing and Communication has been nominated.
John Gill, THE’s editor, said this year’s awards would “reflect a period of turmoil and innovation necessitated by the pandemic”, yet the record number of entries was a sign of “the brilliance of universities across the whole of the UK and Ireland”.
Mr Gill said: “With almost 600 institutions, teams and individuals nominated, it really is a fantastic achievement to make it on to this year’s shortlists.
“We look forward to celebrating the incredible response of university staff in exceptionally tough circumstances when we gather for the ‘Oscars of higher education’ in November.”
The ceremony for the awards will take place in London on 25 November 2021.