Award celebrates work of academe's unsung heroes

May 4, 2007

The Times Higher 's awards are helping to raise the profile of staff working in areas that do not always get recognition.

Teams that are helping to develop research and transferable skills among students in Imperial College London's two graduate schools are a case in point.

Last year, their efforts were rewarded when Imperial won a Times Higher Award for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers. The judges were impressed by a clear shift in the graduate schools from a traditional focus on admissions and examinations to providing high-quality skills training and development for research students.

Bernie Morley, director of the Graduate School of Life Sciences, said: "The award has shown that what we are trying to do is nationally recognised as important, and we are going in the right direction as far as other people are concerned. It is always nice to be told by someone else, because our area of work is not one where your success can be measured by winning a grant or getting a paper published."

Esat Alpay, senior lecturer in transferable skills, said the award had helped to win the hearts and minds of academic staff.

He said: "Sometimes you get staff who think there is no need for all this soft skills training. Winning this award has helped change the culture within the college and make academics appreciate more what we are doing."

Janet Metcalfe, director of the UK Grad Programme that sponsored the award, said: "In the past few years universities have done a tremendous amount to improve the situation for early career researchers, and we thought it was important to bring that to the attention of the academic community."

This year, The Times Higher is launching a new award that will showcase examples of exciting and innovative use of information and communication technology.

Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year has been sponsored by the Joint Information Systems Committee.

David Baker, principal of the College of St Mark and St John and one of the judges, said: "ICT is changing the way we learn, teach, do research and manage the business of higher education. But there is a need for good practice and examples of innovation to be more widely shared.

"With The Times Higher awards having quickly become a showcase for some of the best and most exciting work being done in higher education, we hope this ICT award will likewise bring to wider attention those examples of innovative and far-reaching uses of ICT."

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