THE Awards 2008 - part 3

September 25, 2008


Sponsored by SunGard

De Montfort University

BagRack, a device that fits in a car boot and secures shopping to keep it upright during travel, was developed by De Montfort's Regional Design Unit for local manufacturer the Moss Group. The product, which will be in the shops by December, was manufactured entirely in the UK from recycled and recyclable materials. Investment for the manufacturing was provided by De Montfort's venture capital scheme.

Lancaster University

In 2005, Lancaster opened a Knowledge Business Centre (KBC) to promote the research, development and commercialisation of information and communications technology on its campus. Last academic year, it opened a second KBC. The centres facilitate collaboration with new commercial ventures, established companies and large corporate partners, providing a more diverse community than is usually found in traditional business incubators. Between them, the KBCs have 50 collaborating companies on campus. Lancaster earned £1.5 million from consultancy work with small and medium-sized enterprises - the sixth-largest figure among universities.

University of Leeds

Leeds spin-off Tracsis has developed and commercialised a technology that offers sophisticted computerised transport scheduling. Its Windows interface allows transport operators to configure the system to meet individual scheduling requirements, and transport companies have used Tracsis software to improve operational performance, raise productivity and save money. Tracsis' growth strategy was consolidated by its £2 million flotation in November, and its client base has been strengthened by new contracts with Virgin West Coast and Arriva Cross Country.

Leeds Metropolitan University

Sounds Good, a pilot of audio feedback for student work, is Leeds Met's response to the twin problems of students ignoring written feedback and tutors lacking the time to provide it. A small number of Leeds Met academics used MP3 files to give summative feedback on student assignments. Hand-held recorders that link directly to tutors' PCs allowed them to send sound files attached to emails without the need for complex technology.

University of Glamorgan

Glamorgan has developed a 16-passenger tribrid bus using a hydrogen-powered fuel cell to generate electricity and charge special high-efficiency batteries that then feed into an electric-motor system. The bus incorporates a regenerative braking system in which energy from the brakes helps charge ultra-capacitors that provide good acceleration, a top speed of up to 70 mph and a range of up to 250 miles. Its only emissions are water. In the future, the bus would be refuelled at hydrogen "filling stations"; the university is building a demonstration facility.

University of Greenwich

Greenwich has developed Accelerated Carbonation Technology that captures CO2 and turns it into rock. Many compounds found in waste materials are potentially reactive to CO2, and accelerated carbonation promotes this reaction so the maximum amount of CO2 is captured in the shortest time possible. By controlling the carbonation that forms salts, the waste can be cemented into aggregate for use in construction or disposed of more cheaply than hazardous waste. The technology has the potential to capture 500,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.


Sponsored by Research Councils UK in association with the UK GRAD Programme

Imperial College London

Finish Up, Move On is a two-day Imperial programme with a specific focus on post-PhD transition for late-stage doctorate students. It ran at several points in the past academic year, and topics covered included writing a thesis, preparing for a viva voce, self-awareness, career options, networking skills, leadership and entrepreneurship. The programme was set up to develop the subset of the UK Research Councils' Joint Skills Statement relating to personal effectiveness, career management and skills associated with communicating, networking and team working. It encourages participants to explore the challenges faced at the outset of their research career and reflect on their approaches to dealing with these challenges.

Midlands Part-Time Researcher Project

The Midlands Part-Time Researcher Project has been working to address the problems faced by part-time researchers in accessing an academic career. Research shows that many part-timers feel isolated and disconnected from their research community. A lack of academic enculturation is a considerable barrier to completing their doctorates and entering an academic career. The project, which covers 19 institutions, organised a series of six one-day workshops last academic year. They involved a mix of academic enculturation and pastoral and process-support sessions that took place in various locations - this is important because part-timers often study at distance. The participants represented 15 of the 19 member institutions, with a small number from outside the region. The overall approval rating from participants was well over 80 per cent. The project also involved research on the needs of part-timers and led to the establishment of a Facebook group that facilitates peer support beyond the workshops.

University of Edinburgh

The rapid growth of Edinburgh's research staff societies has been fostered by the university's Researcher Development Programme, which is financed through the Researcher-led Initiative Fund. The societies run networking and social events, seminars on how to source funding, science communication, commercialisation, career planning and mentoring, and organise talks by those developing successful careers inside and outside academia. They offer a means of engaging researchers more directly in the tailoring of institutional support to local needs and help to embed key initiatives. Societies place an emphasis on themes relating to professional and career development, and help researchers determine their career directions.

University of Stirling

Stirling identified that early-career researchers tend to focus on short-term aims and give little consideration to personal development or future employability. In response, it developed the Learning Process, an intensive short course for new researchers. It was set up to develop the UK Research Councils' Joint Skills Statement relating to personal effectiveness, career management and skills associated with communicating, networking and team-working. The course encourages participants to explore the challenges faced at the outset of their research career and reflect on how they deal with them. They receive a personality profile that gives them an insight into the consequence of their own personal type for achieving success. Participants in last year's courses asked for "recap" sessions six months later, and two of the groups maintained regular informal meetings after the sessions.

University of Strathclyde

Strathclyde's Launchpad programme gives early careers researchers the opportunity to manage large projects, work in multidisciplinary teams, control budgets, liaise with internal departments and external companies, and develop a host of other skills essential for successful careers in academia and business. The programme's University Research Day, which was led by early careers researchers, attracted 500 researchers from a range of diciplines and invited guests from industry and commerce. Display posters gave detailed accounts of research projects, and the most outstanding received cash prizes. Small research awards were also on offer for the winners of an event inspired by TV's Dragons' Den in which staff teams pitched their projects. The organisers reported that the event increased confidence, taught new ways of dealing with pressure and strengthened participants' sense of being part of a research community.

University of Sussex

Profolio is a new researcher development programme that has been offered to all doctoral students at Sussex. It introduces participants to professional development tools through a series of workshops and helps them to develop an individual online researcher profile. This is a fully supported university web page hosted by the student's department, where they can present themselves as a developing professional and promote their research and other interests to the academic community, wider public and potential employers. Another element of the programme, portable pendrives, provided free to Profolio participants, are loaded with the latest portable applications and custom-built templates to create a structured space for the storage and management of evidence on research experiences, skills acquisition, and career development.


The Open University

In early 2007, Tesco began to offer shoppers a new use for their Clubcard points - an OU degree course. As part of an affinity partnership, for every £10 worth of Clubcard vouchers, the supermarket's 13.5 million cardholders are now offered £40 towards OU course fees. The cost is shared equally by Tesco and the OU. The OU also secured a page in the three- times-a-year Clubcard brochure, which reaches 2 million households and 500,000 visitors to Tesco stores. Some 4,342 students redeemed tokens in the year from July 2007. The scheme - which will run until October 2009 and may be extended - is also communicating the message that the OU is open to all.

Thames Valley University

The Clearing Show, an accessible guide to the clearing process in a recorded chat-show format, was Thames Valley's way of asserting itself as a "strong clearing brand" in 2007. The university came up with the idea after asking A-level students whether they felt confident about navigating the clearing system if they did not get their desired grades. Some 44 per cent did not. The Clearing Show was posted on the university website, and - helped by extensive media coverage - attracted more than 1,200 unique users in the six weeks after its launch, nearly all of whom went on to explore the university's website.

University of Derby

Before their 2007 exams, Derby sent 3,300 applicants a squeezy penguin stress toy and a leaflet with exam and revision tips from an academic. A week later, the university followed up with an email encouraging applicants to take photos and videos of themselves with their penguin over the summer. The penguin became cult figure on social networking sites and helped Derby improve its conversion rate - the proportion of those offered a place taking up the offer rose from one in five to one in four.

University of Nottingham

In the three days after it was posted on Nottingham's Test Tube, some 68,000 people watched a video showing the capability of flatworms to regenerate themselves. Test Tube aims to give students a behind-the-scenes view of science at the university by providing user-friendly and jargon-free video clips, lecturers notes, personal stories and biographical detail and testimony. The project is produced by Brady Haran, a BBC documentary and film-maker in residence for Nottingham Science City. Test Tube's content is also accessible through YouTube. By April 2008, just over six months after the project was launched, applications in chemical and environmental engineering had risen by 16 per cent, electrical engineering was up 7 per cent, and computer science up 3 per cent.

University of Salford

Salford took a sideways approach to encouraging the interest of prospective students when it released a promotional computer game on the web. Players guide an animated character called Curious through eight levels of puzzles to unlock the door to "Limitless Possibilities". To succeed on the various levels, players require an inquiring, creative and enterprising mindset - skills that Salford looks for in applicants. Encouraged by the university, groups of enthusiasts for the game formed on networking sites and spread the word. More than a million people have now played. At a total cost of £50,000, the university believes that the campaign has provided value for money and fulfilled its aim of reaching more students.

University of Wales Institute, Cardiff

On A-level results day 2007, the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, sent out a public relations team including glamour model and former Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas to central Cardiff. Visitors to the city centre who activated their Bluetooth network could receive a screensaver image linked to the university's clearing campaign, called Cardiff's Calling. The 560 people who took part also received a ringtone commissioned for the campaign. This initiative was followed by a "Mobile Prospectus" campaign, which is viewed from mobile phones, launched at the national Universities and Colleges Admissions Service fair in April.


Sponsored by LFHE

Coventry University

Coventry's latest biennial staff satisfaction survey shows that attitudes towards senior management have improved significantly between 2006 and 2008. Compared with the previous year's survey, 7 per cent more staff said senior management had set out how the university's vision would be implemented, and 18 per cent more said they supported ideas for improving services. These results follow the introduction of the Leadership Development Programme, which began in 2006-07 with 70 leaders immediately below pro vice-chancellors and deans. Last academic year, the scheme was extended to new appointments and other key players, and it now has more than 110 members.

London School of Economics

In 1999, the LSE failed to achieve Investors in People status across its central administration, a huge area covering about 800 people - a third of all staff. The main criticism of the assessors was that, across the university, the LSE was failing to develop world-class leaders and managers. Managers wanted more direction, and those being managed wanted more leadership. The LSE's response was the establishment of a Staff Development Unit, which runs an Introduction to Leadership and Management course open to every aspirant manager in the school. It has run every term since 1999 and attracted 200 participants. The LSE has not neglected the most senior managers, 90 of whom have taken up the services of an in-house Coaching Academy. Senior managers receive 360-degree reviews delivered by external facilitators.

Middlesex University

After rationalisation of Middlesex's academic structures and reduction of the number of faculties to four, 21 new heads of department were appointed - seven from outside the university - as part of a drive to raise leadership capabilities throughout the institution. From October 2007 to May 2008, Middlesex piloted a six-module bespoke leadership development scheme designed to capitalise on the changes. For the first time, it brought together the full team of academic heads of department in a single leadership programme. The university reports that staff are exhibiting increased desire for, and ability to, work collaboratively in developing these strategies across department and school.

Newcastle University

Newcastle's humanities and social sciences faculty's Futures Programme, launched in the past academic year, consists of eight full-day workshops exploring core aspects of the university and faculty strategic vision. It includes mentoring, action-learning, collaborative project development and development of peer-support networks. It is designed to address a sense of disengagement from the faculty among early careers researchers by encouraging them to take responsibility for their own leadership development and promoting the message that leadership need not always be hierarchical. The university says feedback indicates that these objectives are being met.

University of Bradford

Bradford's staff-satisfaction survey in 2007 identified significant room for improvement in leadership and management development. The university now uses a "balanced scorecard" to monitor its performance and provides performance reviews for all staff and performance-related pay for senior staff. All staff can access leadership-development programmes related to their current roles and their future aspirations. There is also a postgraduate programme for principal investigators and business associates. The university, which has achieved Investors in People status, now has clear corporate targets and is better able to recognise talent and implement succession planning.

University of Central Lancashire

Central Lancashire's Future Proof programme aims to select and develop a pool of leaders who have the confidence and competence to apply for senior management posts. Applications were invited from members of the current management group who could realistically expect to progress to senior management in the next few years. The 20 applicants received coaching and feedback to help them construct a personal development plan. The six strongest were chosen for a full year of leadership training, including coaching and hands-on experience. The university views this scheme as a means of conducting an objective, transparent process to select who should receive investment as future senior leaders.


Sponsored by LSC

Anglia Ruskin University

Anglia Ruskin's department of optometry and ophthalmic dispensing has collaborated with Specsavers Hearcare, the UK's largest private hearing-aid retailer, to create the certificate in higher education (hearing aid audiology) and the foundation degree in hearing aid audiology. The university created the first combined ophthalmic dispensing and business honours degree, developed a new optometry course that is the only bachelor of optometry qualification in the UK, and introduced the UK's first distance-learning foundation degree in ophthalmic dispensing in association with Specsavers. It runs university-level certificate courses for optometric and ophthalmic dispensing assistants. In the past academic year, more than 2,000 students graduated from Anglia Ruskin's one-year certificate courses - optometric clinical assistant and ophthalmic dispensing assistant - and 242 students are enrolled on the distance-learning programme.

Aston University

The university has developed a foundation degree in electrical power engineering in association with National Grid, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), E.ON UK and Sterling Power Group. Aston identified a key opportunity to develop this programme in November 2005 as a means of addressing the growing skills gap in the electricity supply industry. Flexibility of delivery, location, routes to entry, and content are all key factors. In May 2006, SSE asked Aston to develop a similar programme. Both received their first intakes - 25 students in total - in early 2007, followed by larger cohorts last autumn. National Grid and SSE are keen for Aston to develop further programmes along the same lines.

University of Teesside

Teesside's foundation degree in fraud management and its MA in financial investigation and financial crime attracted initial cohorts of 12 and . Both were established to meet requests for training from fraud-prevention bodies. The foundation degree was developed with Cifas, the not-for-profit fraud-prevention organisation, and the Department for Work and Pensions. The MA was set up in partnership with the UK Assets Recovery Agency, part of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which works to recover money and assets acquired through criminal activity. Existing organisational training programmes are built in to course modules to ensure that students gain academic knowledge and professional insight.

University of Central Lancashire

Two university departments - allied health professions, and sport, tourism and the outdoors - worked together to create a sport, health and fitness foundation degree for the Army in which students have the option to progress to an honours degree. The departments identified elements in the Army's Physical Training Corps training programme that could be university-accredited and found ways of ensuring that its rigorous training standards were married with academic regulations. They also ensured that soldiers could continue the course if they were posted abroad. The course boosts students' opportunities in the Army as well as opening up avenues for civilian employment when they leave the military.

University of Lincoln

Employer-focused courses for employees of global companies such as Moy Park and Bakkavor are based at the university's Holbeach campus. Each year, 200 businesses send more than 2,000 students there. Courses are taught by academic staff with industry experience. They offer flexible delivery whereby schedules are aligned to the needs of the sector and learning accessed through day release, part-time modes and distance learning. Plans for the project's £3.5 million second phase are being finalised. The pitch was sealed by Lincoln's work with five key local food production employers.

University of York

York's UK Universities Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Network offers professional development to higher education staff managing commercial CPD schemes to allow them to increase employer engagement. Staff from more than 60 UK universities have attended its seminars and workshops, and global businesses have a point of contact for sourcing corporate and professional training from UK universities. York won £400,000 from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to develop the network and establish Training Gateway, a business-facing arm. Since then, UK universities have received and responded to more than 50 tenders and training opportunities via Training Gateway. In May, 550 representatives from every UK university were signed up to Gateway.


Sponsored by NCGE

Coventry University

Since July 2007, Coventry has helped more than 200 students to start their own business through its commercial arm, Coventry University Enterprises, and it supports more than 6,000 small and medium enterprises each year. Coventry staff receive financial rewards for entrepreneurial activity. Of the 22 students on the BA/BSc in enterprise and entrepreneurship specialist programme last academic year, five already have trading businesses. The Student Enterprise Centre assisted 83 students to turn their business ideas into reality, and more than 350 students have taken Graduate Entrepreneur Add+Vantage modules, which give academic credits to students on any course who plan to to set up their own venture.

Queen's University Belfast

Queen's Enterprise Student Union provides information on enterprise and employment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Activities included two major regional and all-Ireland student business planning competitions, an eBay trading workshop, an enterprise workshop for women, and a five-month student-enterprise programme. The service includes a Student Business Clinic to provide advice on starting a business. In related projects, Queen's has introduced enterprise into the curriculum for student teachers, and about 250 of its teaching graduates will now teach enterprise in primary and secondary schools. An enterprise textbook by an award-wining Queen's scholar has become a core text in more than 30 UK institutions.

University of Leeds

Leeds' Enterprise and Innovation Office works to foster an entrepreneurial culture among staff and students and forms part of the university's strategy to improve its world ranking. There are 40 Enterprise Scholarships for current and future students, while a business start-up service for students and graduates is integrated in the Careers Centre. Development, support and practice of entrepreneurship are now explicit criteria in academic promotions. Leeds spearheaded the establishment of a global enterprise initiative through the Worldwide Universities Network. Its leadership of the White Rose Health Innovation Partnership, consisting of four US and four UK universities, was acclaimed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, and the scheme's directors received Thomas Edison Awards from America.

University of Nottingham

Nottingham has been national champion in the UK-wide competition Students in Free Enterprise every year since 2005. The university has launched award-winning spin-off companies and works with a wide range of businesses, including global brands such as AstraZeneca, Ford and Rolls-Royce. An Innovation Park for spin-off enterprise and collaborative industrial projects has been added to its Jubilee Campus. It has a teaching and research campus in China and has just established another in Malaysia. The University of Nottingham Institute for Enterprise and Innovation runs programmes open to first-year undergraduates on all courses and enrolled 1,600 students last academic year. Postgraduates can enrol in cross-disciplinary degrees in entrepreneurship.

University of Oxford

More than 2,500 university members are now involved in entrepreneurship education, networks and new-venture creation. Oxford Entrepreneurs, a student society, has 3,500 members, and in the past academic year the university has spun off four new companies and made 68 patent applications. The university's entrepreneurial networks extend from the UK to India, the US and many other countries, while academics have developed entrepreneurship courses for local niche groups, including National Health Service clinicians and medical researchers. In 2007-08, Oxford Entrepreneurs' graduate enterprises raised more than £1 million in venture finance.

University of Salford

In a bid to boost student engagement in enterprise, Salford launched an Enterprise Academy last academic year. It has enabled the university to provide training to both undergraduates and graduates through masterclasses and workshops that are delivered by academic staff and entrepreneurs. Also new at Salford is an Enterprise Zone that houses meeting areas, incubation hot desks and an enterprise resource library. A graduate "boot camp" is targeted at underemployed students who had not previously considered venture-founding as an option. Soon after taking part, 15 of the 32 participants were trading. Salford also established a Flying Start Creative Industries Boot Camp. In the past year, the university developed a suite of postgraduate modules into a joint European masters in international entrepreneurship.


Sponsored by QAA

Glasgow Caledonian University

Glasgow Caledonian performs very highly across all areas of support for international students, most notably visa advice and international office support. Students report particular satisfaction with the contact with academic staff in the form of support with learning, and the student counselling service was also rated first-class. Commenting on the university's shortlisting, Lynn McQuire, head of the international office, said: "We're delighted that Glasgow Caledonian University's activity to support international students is being recognised. The excellent feedback that we receive from our international students helps us continually enhance our support for them and for future students, and to make their experience, so far from home, first class."

Heriot-Watt University

Supporting students in their faith is a key strength of Heriot-Watt, with students rating this at the highest levels. And with so many international students choosing to study overseas to enhance their career prospects, international students at the university have shown that they are well satisfied with the careers support on offer. International students are also particularly happy with the visa advice that they receive. The university, commenting on its inclusion in the shortlist, said it was "delighted that the commitment of staff working in our Careers Service and the International Student Advice Centre is so highly valued by our students. Enhancing the quality of experience for all our students is at the heart of the university's strategy for the future."

Loughborough University

Support for international students at Loughborough is rated highly by the students themselves. Of particular note is the provision of careers support, which has been highlighted as a key concern for international students, as well as an active and effective student union. This is further supported by effective help and support in obtaining access to living and studying in the UK. Morag Bell, pro vice-chancellor for teaching at Loughborough, was delighted that the institution had been shortlisted again after winning last year's award. She credited staff throughout the university: "It is excellent that their efforts have been recognised. It is a real indication of how highly our students rate their experience at Loughborough."

University of Exeter

Across all participating institutions, Exeter performs very highly for learning support for international students. Clubs and societies and a supportive international office are among the other services rated highly by the university's students. The university said: "The quality of the student experience has always been important at the University of Exeter, and we are gratified that our performance in the Independent Student Barometer matches our National Student Survey results. International students have always appreciated the quality of learning experience in a safe and secure environment provided at Exeter. We support and encourage our 100 student-led clubs and societies, and it is great to see the excellent work they do recognised in this survey."

University of Glasgow

Glasgow shows a strong performance in all areas of international student support, in particular the international office, student union and student organisations on offer. The university also received extremely high ratings for learning support from its international students. Commenting on being shortlisted in this award for the second-year running, the university said that one factor in its success was its Lonely Planet guide to the university. It added: "Attracting more than 3,000 international students from 120 different countries, the University of Glasgow is proud of its reputation as a place where people from across the world feel welcome."

University of Sheffield

Sheffield's award-winning student union has been praised by its international students, with its clubs and societies also rated very highly. International students have also expressed high levels of satisfaction and given a particularly high rating to many of the support services provided by Sheffield's student services, careers service and IT support teams. Jane Chafer, director of student recruitment, admissions and marketing at the university, remarked: "At Sheffield, we are proud of our multicultural campus. We value the individuality of our students and work hard to maintain an environment that nurtures talent and encourages personal development. It is gratifying to know that it is our students who have recognised us for this award."


Loughborough University

As it has won this award for the past two years, it is no surprise to see Loughborough on the shortlist again. Its sporting facilities were highly rated, and the university excelled in the quality of extracurricular activities. New students found the university inclusive and welcoming. The library services also got rave reviews, and lecturers are described as "willing to help and listen to student problems at any time and when approached are usually helpful".

University of Cambridge

Cambridge, nominated for the second year running, was praised for the excellent teaching provided by the staff, with the quality and helpfulness of faculty rated top notch by students. The large amount of contact time given to students was much appreciated. One student commented that the time given to teaching "makes me feel valued as a person, and not just as a paying customer". The collegiate system within the university has proved to be a draw for many students, with one remarking that "social interaction between years, graduates and undergraduates is common, and always a positive experience".

University of East Anglia

The UEA students enjoy a great atmosphere on campus, according to their responses. "There is always a great buzz on campus," said one student. The highly rated sports facilities are credited with helping to create a fun atmosphere for all. The student centre that helps those who fall behind with work is in keeping with the general feeling of inclusiveness. As one satisfied student explained: "Students can be involved in all levels of decision-making, meaning they feel that the university is exactly as they want it to be."

University of Oxford

At Oxford, the quality of teaching was highly rated, with students crediting helpful teachers as well as their own peers for their achievements. One said: "I have been taught by some of the best people in the world, and my fellow students have been as important in shaping how I think." The atmosphere in the university has been described as overwhelmingly positive. One student said: "There is lots of uni spirit, and college pride, which makes you feel a real part of the university." And, as another pointed out, from aikido to yachting, "There is a club for almost everything."

University of St Andrews

St Andrews is rated very highly in terms of security and, similarly to last year, it performed well on the campus environment and community atmosphere. Teaching was praised, with students noting that "meeting with advisers to confirm module choices help students to feel like an individual". The open-door policy was also highlighted: "Students are always welcome to approach tutors, lecturers, department heads and deans of faculty." Student clubs and societies also earned high praise, as did the the student union.

University of Sheffield

Sheffield's student union was cited as a great strength. One student stated: "It's the best in the country. It offers everything you could want - food, nights out, student services and rooms to use." The library services, too, were rated highly. As one student put it: "The extent of resources available online and in the library is extremely valuable." In addition, another student respondent was keen to point out that "the drinks are sold at a good price".


Sponsored by Hobsons

King's College London

A decade ago, King's College London was joined by the Institute of Psychiatry and the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy's and St Thomas' Hospitals. Turning the merger into an efficient operation was never going to be quick and easy but, over the past year, King's has demonstrated evidence of much success in its efforts to integrate these institutions.

Research has been organised thematically - divisions cross disciplinary boundaries to strengthen the links between basic science and clinical applications.

The links established between the new partner institutions and all parts of King's enabled the development of centres of excellence in bioinformatics, medicine and the arts, medical law and ethics, military health and health policy.

More than 40 senior appointments were made to reinforce the new structures by providing leadership and expertise.

King's success is evident in the growth of new research awards. In 2004-05, combined new awards totalled £20 million; by 2006-07 the figure was almost £50 million. By 2006-07, King's was the largest recipient of Medical Research Council (MRC) funding, and the institution now houses five MRC centres, more than any other university. It is the only university with three National Institute for Health Research Centres of Excellence.

King's, which has the largest combined medical, dental and nursing school in Europe, has shown commitment to innovation in teaching with its e-learning programme in dentistry. In summer 2007, the first students graduated from the King's Extended Medical Degree Programme, a widening-access initiative that uses extra places to take students from poorly performing schools and train them to become doctors in six years instead of five.

Among the notable knowledge-transfer initiatives under way is the Institute of Psychiatry's £30 million government-backed National Academy for Parenting Practitioners. King's work with a number of companies, including Proximagen, shows its commitment to effective commercialisation of research.

University of Dundee

The university has transformed Dundee city centre with a £200 million campus redevelopment. A £15 million teaching block was opened last year, and students have moved into the new Dundee Student Village. Major extensions have been completed to the library and to the Institute of Sports and Exercise, which is an accredited training camp for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The university won the 2008 Green Gown award for energy and water efficiency and has brought thousands of people to the campus through a public engagement programme by providing free tickets for university events.

The university has created a superfast broadband network that covers the campus and student residences. The infrastructure allows staff to make the most of e-learning methods. Virtually all student modules are supported online, and many use techniques such as online discussions, e-assessment, video clips and podcasts to enhance learning.

The 2007 National Student Survey placed Dundee 13th in the UK for agreement with the statement, "Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of my course". The autumn 2007 International Student Barometer survey placed Dundee 11th in the UK for overall satisfaction.

University of Hertfordshire

Hertfordshire was the first institution to describe itself as a business-facing university, and it delivers for employers high-level skills, applied research, knowledge exchange, process improvement, short courses for staff and expert consultancy.

The university used £4.2 million in funding from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to accelerate its strategic development to embed a true business-facing culture.

Every course is designed with employers and professional bodies to ensure they have the right blend of academic and professional content. All students undertake work experience and entrepreneurship training, while placement numbers are rising against national trends.

With employers, Hertfordshire is developing bite-sized learning in the workplace and supporting product innovation and process improvement. A real-time student employment centre for students matches business with the skills they need. The Graduate Consulting Unit allows students to work on real business projects, and entrepreneurialism is fostered through competitions and seminars.

Academics are encouraged to run their own businesses. A £200,000 collaborative innovation fund has been established to help staff bid for funding for business-facing projects. Hertfordshire's close relationship with business means its commercial income exceeds core government funding.

University of Leicester

In 2001, Leicester launched a plan to turn itself around after the difficult times of the previous decade. It sought to improve its position by investing in research, emphasising high-quality teaching and embarking on a £300 million development of the estate.

Success is evident in Leicester's break into the top 200 universities in the Times Higher Education-QS World University Rankings in 2007.

The ambition is epitomised by the £32 million David Wilson University Library, an attractive space purpose-built for learning and research.

The university, which consistently exceeds its access benchmarks, believes teaching and research operate with genuine synergy. Its research has been shown to have the greatest impact of any Midlands university, while the 2007 National Student Survey revealed that Leicester's teaching was the highest quality in the Midlands for the third year.

After a 12 per cent rise in student numbers for 2007 entry, applications for undergraduate places climbed by 17 per cent in 2008. Over two years, applications for science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects have risen by 67 per cent.

In the past academic year, research grant awards have risen by more than 50 per cent, to £54 million. This level of income places the institution well within the UK's top 20 research-intensive universities in terms of income per academic. The university will lead a £20 million National Institute for Health Research regional partnership.

University of Liverpool

The university has bolstered its engagement with the community in 2008 to celebrate Liverpool's year as European Capital of Culture. Its programme includes the creation of a £9 million public gallery and museum. Other initiatives have included a free public-lecture series.

Liverpool is also reaching out to help the community by leading the Health is Wealth initiative, which aims to address the growing disparity between Merseyside's fast-growing economy and the long-term poor health of its population.

Farther afield, Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) in Suzhou, China, has been growing in strength. The new university is helping to meet China's need for highly trained graduates. Liverpool students now have the option to undertake work placements at Suzhou Industrial Park in China, where XJTLU is located. Research facilities are being established there to produce collaborative research opportunities for staff at Liverpool.

The university is embarking on several high-profile capital projects, including a £36 million restructuring project in the faculty of engineering, a £3.5 million project to transform the campus environment, and the creation of a £15 million "green" heating system. In addition, £17 million has been invested in chemistry, and a £15 million project is creating a number of centralised teaching laboratories that will be used across a variety of science-based subjects.

The student union is undergoing a £4 million makeover, and a £17 million expansion and refurbishment of the Sydney Jones Library has just been completed. A total of £72 million is being invested in state-of-the-art facilities for research and teaching in the faculty of medicine.

In late 2007, Liverpool opened both the world's first interdisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of animal-borne diseases, and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Centre for Structural Biology.

The university launched one of Europe's largest facilities for training dentists in September 2007 as part of a £6 million investment programme. The enhanced teaching facilities will increase the number of student places from 5 to 400 by 2009.

University of Surrey

Surrey recorded a boost in applications for the new academic year of 11.7 per cent against a national drop of 7.3 per cent. This increase - the largest of any university - contributes to a 60 per cent rise in applications in the past three years.

Behind this growth is Surrey's market-leading strategy, which includes producing personalised prospectuses in-house - a higher education first. This approach to communication has built a rapport between staff and student communities and led to this year's launch of a student experience strategy.

Internationally, Surrey's reputation has solidified through landmark partnerships with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, Los Angeles, and North Carolina State University, which foster staff and student exchanges and research collaborations. This approach allows students to study in multiple countries during their degree course, creating truly global graduates.

The first step in the international expansion strategy was the launch of the Surrey International Institute, Dongbei University of Finance and Economics (DUFE), offering Surrey and joint Surrey/DUFE degrees. This is only the second collaboration of this type approved by the Chinese Government.

Surrey's overhauled professional training programme resulted in another rise in graduate employment for 2007-08.

In August, the university's commitment to collegiality led to a restructuring from eight schools into four faculties, bringing about closer co-operation in teaching, learning and research. Multidisciplinary research success resulted in major grants and national and international awards.

As a direct result of a merger agreement with the Guildford School of Acting, the university and wider community will benefit from a purpose-built arts facility. Significant investment has also been made in the ground-breaking Surrey Centre for Sport and the launch of an innovative Multi-Faith Centre.

Surrey continues to register commercial successes. The recent sale (pending regulatory approval) of Surrey Satellite Technology is believed to be the largest-ever cash realisation of any UK university spin-off. Modern Water, a company using Surrey intellectual property to create a low-cost desalination technique, was floated successfully. Only months after its start-up, Surrey NanoSystems, which produces carbon nanotubes at low temperatures, is turning a profit.

In 2007, Surrey embarked on an ambitious agenda for change that is environmentally sustainable, financially robust and advances its international impact in higher education.


Sponsored by Freeth Cartwright

There is no shortlist for this award; the winner will be announced at the Grosvenor House ceremony.

Previous winners include Sir Peter Mansfield, Nobel laureate and emeritus professor of physics at the University of Nottingham (2007), Lisa Jardine, professor of Renaissance studies and director of the Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary, University of London (2006), and Lewis Elton, honorary professor of higher education, Centre for the Advancement of Learning and Teaching, University College London (2005). Jardine described how winning the trophy inspired her to carry on with her work: "I am sure the award was motivational. The timing was brilliant. I was just back on form after breast cancer in 2004, and the award was a real spur to me."

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