The University of St Andrews has won this year's THES/KPGM award for the best annual report from a United Kingdom university. The award was presented by Grant Macrae, senior partner in KPMG, in Edinburgh last week.
The judging panel, chaired by David Dow of KPMG, also included David Albury, higher education specialist at the Office of Public Management, Chi Man-Tsang from the Small Back Room, Liam Macabe, now with the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, and Martin Ince, deputy editor of The THES.
The judges were faced with a strong shortlist of ten annual reports from a wide range of institutions. All were drawn to the St Andrews report by its unusual front cover, which consists of signatures of distinguished alumni ranging from captains of industry and the high master of Eton to BBC Scotland's TV sports commentator.
This apparently simple device had the effect of drawing the judges' attention. Another attractive feature of the report was that it was by no means the fattest or most expensively produced of the entries. Mr Dow said that many arrived at his Edinburgh office bursting from their envelopes.
By contrast, the St Andrews report was comparatively thin and stuck to a shelf-friendly A4 size, a conservatism that the judges felt reflected the St Andrews ethos. In addition, the report was not afraid to use Latin words and phrases, or bits of St Andrews jargon to reflect the institution's way of thinking.
St Andrews' report also won high praise for its use of graphics and in particular for its clear financial information, which many otherwise competent annual reports presented in a baffling manner. The St Andrews report was edited by Giles Dove.
There are no runners-up or special categories in the awards. But the judges were also very impressed by the report from the London School of Economics. They decided that because it was a centenary special issue, with 100 years to pick from, it would be unfair to other entries to judge it alongside those with only 12 months of subject matter.