Categories and criteria
These awards focus primarily on activity during the 2020 calendar year. Judges will pay special attention to initiatives completed during 2020, but submissions may be based on those that commenced prior to this period, where proof of impact during 2020 can be included.
Excellence and Innovation in the Arts
This award recognises the pioneering work that is taking place in universities to promote the arts. It is open to teams, departments or institutions.
- Describe the background to and context of your entry. Does the entry represent a new effort to establish your university’s reputation in the arts, or does it further an already strong position in the field?
- Explain the nature of your excellence or innovation. Have you launched new initiatives? Have you set up new courses?
- Describe the impact of your work. Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success.
- Is there a collaborative or interdisciplinary element to your work? If so, please tell us about it.
Please note that this category addresses promotion of the arts or an artistic project, rather than the excellence of an artistic project in itself.
International Strategy of the Year
This award will be given to an institution for outstanding success in building institutional partnerships, overseas operations and a strategic approach to international staff and student recruitment. The judges will be looking for evidence of success on financial measures, but most important will be the way in which the strategy has enhanced the profile of the university and delivered on its ambitions.
- Explain how your institution’s overseas operations have increased international capacity and cultivated institutional partnerships.
- What impact has your international activity had on your global profile and financial position?
- Show evidence of your strategy’s effectiveness. This may include how you established your institution’s brand; engaged with overseas partners; dealt with changes in government policy or the wider environment in which you operate; employed technology and maintained effective communications with staff overseas; and learned from other sectors.
Leadership and Management Team of the Year
This award will go to the institution that demonstrates the greatest breadth and depth of leadership and management skills. We want to hear what makes your senior team special.
- Outline all the areas in which you have excelled and ensure that you provide benchmark data to show exactly how your institution has delivered across the board.
- Describe the impact of your work.
- Provide examples of creative management across the institution, the ways in which you have anticipated change in the higher education system and environment in which you operate, and any relevant leadership in your dealings with external stakeholders.
- Describe how your work improves on standard practice in the sector.
This award will be given to the outstanding team at an institutional rather than departmental level.
Outstanding Support for Students
This award will be given to the institution that helps students to gain the maximum benefit from their study. Both pastoral and academic support packages will be considered, and this category is open to those working in departments across an institution, as well as dedicated Student Services teams.
- Describe the background to and context of your approach or initiative, including any distinctive traits in your student body.
- Explain the nature of the support package. Detail how it works and explain why it is innovative and effective.
- What were the results? Have you attracted more students, or those from a different demographic? Have you improved student outcomes? How were the measures received by student bodies? Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success.
- Outline your principal achievements.
- Summarise what you were trying to achieve, how you set about achieving it and how you plan to monitor the impact of the scheme.
Student Recruitment Campaign of the Year
Universities have always educated ambitious young people from their local communities, but with increasing pressure for student bodies to expand and better reflect wider society, recruitment campaigns need to be broader in scope, ambitious, creative and flexible. What made your campaign innovative, and how did it differ from traditional campaigns in your region?
Your submission may address some or all of the following:
- How you have enhanced or transformed your brand to make your university a favoured destination for incoming students, both domestic and international, and including those who may not previously have chosen to go into higher education.
- If your marketing team collaborated with other university departments or external partners to create bespoke, targeted campaigns aimed at specific groups of prospective students, please describe how that relationship worked.
- Whether the aim of your campaign was to increase student numbers overall, to attract students from overseas, those from under-represented backgrounds or a different demographic, tell us how you performed against pre-campaign targets?
Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year
This award recognises a teaching and learning strategy that is distinctive and innovative, has enhanced both the student and staff experience, and reflects an institution’s core values.
- What were the main features of your institution’s teaching and learning strategy and how were they implemented?
- How have you embraced and supported the use of new technology to facilitate innovative teaching?
- How have you created an environment in which teaching is highly valued across the university?
- How do you recognise and reward innovative teaching?
- Outline how you have enhanced the learning experience for all students – undergraduate and postgraduate – and helped them to maximise their potential.
The judges will also be looking for evidence of how this strategy successfully dovetailed with others as part of the university’s overall strategic plan..
Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year
This award recognises the innovative use of technology to improve any function at a university, be that at institutional, departmental or faculty level. Entries may therefore focus on leadership, management, administration, teaching, research, or knowledge transfer.
We will accept submissions based on technological breakthroughs that were conceived and developed at an institution, or the innovative use of existing technology to improve a university’s operations and outcomes across its core functions.
Judges will be looking for initiatives that have delivered efficiencies and enhanced productivity, so submissions should ideally demonstrate savings in terms of cost or time as well as improved performance. Providing that impact can be demonstrated, judges will consider projects that are not yet concluded.
- Show how the initiative addresses a specific institutional need or challenge.
- Describe why the initiative is innovative, and outline the technologies and approaches used.
- Demonstrate the effective use of leading-edge practices, and how your approach embraces digital technology to implement improvements.
- Describe how those involved have overcome cultural, financial and other barriers to succeed.
- Is the innovation scalable, and could it be replicated elsewhere in the sector?
Workplace of the Year
This award will recognise an institution or self-governing division showing exceptional commitment to creating a positive environment for both incoming and existing staff.
Your submission may address some or all of the following:
- How you attracted, engaged, and supported new staff.
- The process you have in place for succession planning and talent management of existing staff - both academic and those in the professional services.
- How the increasingly important issues of equality, diversity and inclusion have been addressed across the workforce.
- Staff-focused initiatives that have been implemented to support the institution's strategic plan.
- Methods and approaches from other sectors that you have implemented to make your institution a desirable place to work. Please outline what these are and why they have been successful.
If your entry relates to activity since the arrival of Covid-19, please outline what arrangements you have put in place to ensure employees have maintained a healthy work-life balance in uniquely challenging circumstances.
There will be two additional categories that do not require submissions. These will be based on data THE collects for its suite of rankings, but will reveal something interesting about university performance that the rankings do not capture. Further details will be provided in advance of the shortlist publication, and we will notify THE’s primary data contact at the shortlisted institutions directly.