Outstanding Leadership and Management Team

This award will go to the institution that demonstrates the greatest breadth and depth of leadership and management skills. Although these awards focus on the 2015-16 academic year, if your entry is based on long-term initiatives that have now come to fruition, we will accept information dating from the outset.  

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  • 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, 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.

Alumni Engagement

This award will be given to the institution that can best demonstrate innovation, creativity and success in encouraging alumni engagement with, and philanthropic giving to, an institution. 

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  • Describe the projects or initiatives undertaken, and explain how teamwork contributed to successful outcomes.
  • How successful were you? Qualify and quantify your statements.
  • Demonstrate the impact of your work, and explain how it is making a difference to the institution.
 Judges will be looking not only at the amount of money raised and level of alumni engagement in events, but for innovative strategies and evidence of improved overall performance against previous years. 

Outstanding Administrative Services Team

This award recognises excellence in central administrative services, including those delivered by registry teams. Particular regard will be given to significant transformation in this field.

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Submissions in this category should:

  • clearly demonstrate how your team contributed to the improved running of the institution in key areas of activity.
  • outline the service delivery problems or opportunities identified, and explain how these were addressed. 
  • provide evidence of successful outcomes, for example via key performance indicators or stakeholder feedback.
  • explain how the service transformation supports strategic, operational or compliance needs in the institution.
  • describe how your work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.  

If applicable, provide evidence of the effective use of innovative practices from other sectors.

Outstanding Estates Strategy

This award recognises outstanding work in estates departments. We are looking to reward the institution with the best story to tell about the academic year 2015-16, although given the time-frame of many estates projects, information about key achievements in property and facilities management over the past three academic years may be included. 

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  • Tell us about the construction of innovative new buildings, the redevelopment and renovation of existing buildings, or the successful implementation of a new estates strategy.
  • How are you developing and encouraging sustainable solutions across your estate? 
  • How have you worked to reduce estates costs, and what savings have you delivered? For example, have you looked at sharing the management of your facilities with other educational establishments or implemented new structures or contract arrangements in commercial partnerships? 
  • Show how you have engaged the wider institutional leadership in estates issues, and provide examples of the adoption of solutions and practice from other sectors.
  • Outline how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Outstanding Financial Performance

This award recognises outstanding work in finance departments, but submissions should also highlight how the procurement team’s policies released savings to reinvest in the institution. Submissions should include a brief overview of your institution’s financial strategy and show how the team contributed to its development and implementation. Judges will look for evidence of the overall impact on the institution and its sustainability. 

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  • Highlight substantial achievements such as supporting a cost reduction programme or developing additional income streams, efficient budgeting processes or the smart implementation of relevant innovative practices from other sectors delivering clear benefits. 
  • Demonstrate how the finance department successfully communicates financial initiatives and works with others in your institution to foster a sense of shared ownership across non-finance leaders and managers. 
  • Describe how the team’s work could contribute to the improvement of standard practices in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team

This award recognises outstanding work in marketing and communications departments. 

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  • Show how your communications strategy and initiatives have delivered quantifiable changes in the public perception of your institution or have reshaped behaviour within it. 
  • Supply examples of shared collaborative ownership of marketing and communications initiatives across your institution’s leadership and management teams and highlight the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors. 
  • Outline your objectives for the 2015-16 academic year, and explain how your team met or exceeded them.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities. 

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes. 

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year

This award recognises the most innovative and original initiative in knowledge exchange or transfer in the academic year 2015-16. 

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  • Outline the initiative’s origins and explain what makes it new and pioneering. 
  • Describe its objectives and detail how these have been met or exceeded. 
  • Explain how your initiative has had a transformative effect on both your institution and your non-academic partner or partners, and demonstrate how it addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Judges will look for effective collaboration between academics, administrators and business partners and for the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors. 

Workplace of the Year

This award will recognise an institution showing exceptional commitment to creating a positive environment for both incoming and existing staff.

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  • How have you attracted, engaged and supported new staff?
  • What processes are in place for succession planning and talent management of existing staff – both academic and those in the professional services?
  • What staff-focused initiatives have been implemented to support the institution’s strategic plan? 
  • How have equality, diversity and inclusion issues been addressed across the institution’s workforce?
  • Have methods and approaches from other sectors been implemented to make your institution a desirable place to work? If so, outline what they are and why they have been successful. 

Outstanding Student Services Team

This award recognises outstanding work in student services teams. If you have delivered a great service in this area, detail what you have done, what improvements it has led to and, in particular, how students have benefited. 

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  • Explain how your team used feedback and evaluations from staff, students and other sources to improve its performance and to evaluate the outcome of any changes.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Submissions could include details of a successful new collaboration with another department, professional service or students’ union, or with an external partner such as another higher education institution, the NHS or other agency. They could also include such things as a recent reorganisation of student services or the implementation of new IT systems that have improved service or efficiency. 

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to its success. 

International Strategy of the Year

This award will be given to the institution that most effectively built institutional partnerships and boosted its international profile during the 2015-16 academic year.

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  • 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. 
  • Provide evidence of shared collaborative ownership of initiatives across your institution’s leadership and management teams.

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.    

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  • What were the main features of your institution’s teaching and learning strategy covering the 2015-16 academic year, 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. 
  • Explain how your strategy already addresses the key aspects of teaching performance that the government has confirmed it will measure in the early stages of the teaching excellence framework, and the student-focused themes included in the government’s May 2016 HE White Paper?

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.

Outstanding Student Admissions Strategy

This award recognises outstanding work in both undergraduate and postgraduate student admissions. 

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  • Outline your admissions processes. Describe how your team has built links with local schools and colleges as part of your institution’s widening-participation remit. 
  • Demonstrate how you have reached out to other groups, such as international, disabled or mature students, and how you worked with them during the application process. 
  • Provide evidence of shared collaborative ownership of initiatives across the institution’s leadership and management teams and show effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors. 
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes.

Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year

This award recognises the innovative use of digital 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 or research.

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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 aren’t 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?

Outstanding Library Team

This award recognises outstanding work in library and information-services departments. 

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  • Explain how your team has personalised the delivery and support of library space, services and content provision. 
  • Describe how the team developed the library’s digital environment to benefit users. 
  • Detail how your team exploited physical and virtual space to provide a complementary, blended service. 
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes. 

Judges will look for evidence of collaboration with other administrative and academic departments that enhanced your team’s delivery, and for examples of the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors. 

Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative

The award recognises a strategic and innovative approach to delivering employers’ workforce development needs.

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Judges will look for:

  • new ways of working with employers. 
  • evidence of high-quality, flexible provision, responsive to employer and employee needs. 
  • evidence of positive impact on businesses (proven and future impact permitted). 

Entries must not be focused solely on employability (including student placements). 

Outstanding Strategic Planning Team

This award will recognise exceptional performance from a team, or individual, that has made a significant and demonstrable impact on strategic change across the university. UK higher education is going through a period of rapid change, both in terms of the policy framework, and the national and global environment, presenting multiple challenges. 

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  • The judges will look for clear contributions to strategic planning, such as improvements to the evidence base supporting institutional decision-making, the development and implementation of change management programmes, or improvements to institution-wide operational processes in support of defined strategic objectives. 
  • If there is evidence of a team or individual’s success in a particular project or area of activity, then this can take the lead in submissions, but it is vital that you also show how your work has influenced decision-making at a strategic level. 
  • Explain the way in which clearly identified challenges have and will be met as a result of your work, and demonstrate that impact in a measurable way.