THE Awards Asia 2020: winners announced

Both top-ranked Tsinghua and lesser-known institutions lauded for excellence in difficult times

November 17, 2020
Source: iStock

The second annual Times Higher Education Awards Asia, held virtually on 17 November, has doubled in size to 10 categories this year − a reflection of how regional institutions are finding more innovative ways of achieving excellence.

The THE judging panel, joined by guest experts, heard from hundreds of institutions that have launched initiatives to support students, teachers, researchers and local communities. The awards, which are different to THE’s numbers-driven rankings, are also a chance for younger or lesser-known institutions to shine.

“Data cannot capture everything that is great about a university, and they cannot always identify focused or niche pockets of excellent practice inside an institution as complex and multifaceted as a university,” said Phil Baty, THE’s chief knowledge officer. “These awards allow us to recognise and reward good practice and innovation across a range of activities not directly captured by the rankings, in areas such as student recruitment, strategic development, technological innovation and, indeed, leadership.”

Tsinghua University won two accolades: for Outstanding Leadership and Management Team for its involvement in the Global Alliance of Universities on Climate, and for Technological Innovation of the Year for an artificial intelligence tool to track teacher and student performance.

The Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech), also in China, won for its International Strategy of the Year that included 11 new global research partnerships and an agreement with King’s College London to develop a joint medical school.

Many other awards went to institutions that have persisted in supporting students despite volatile political environments and socio-economic challenges.

The An-Najah National University in Palestine integrated a grassroots community engagement initiative into its teaching, while Katalyst, a collaborative initiative based in India, helped underprivileged women pursue professional education.

The Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), also in India, proved to have an unstinting commitment to its staff, with measures including providing start-up grants and other support to its early career faculty.

Younger institutions, such as the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan, have been nimble in overhauling processes – in this case, to boost the enrolment of promising students in its PhD programmes.

And sometimes, small arts projects can have a big impact − a production about bricklayers in the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak’s drama and theatre programme ended up supporting the country’s anti-corruption efforts.

Two of the THE Asia Awards categories are drawn from specific data sets.

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in South Korea won the Regional or Societal Impact Award based on data from the inaugural 2019 THE Impact Rankings, which use the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. South Korean institutions in general stood out for their strong showing in areas such as “good health and well-being”, “quality education” and “industry, innovations and infrastructure”.

Finally, King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia won the THE DataPoints Merit Award as an “unsung” star of research, for its strengths in engineering, energy and materials science, according to Elsevier data.

Times Higher Education Awards Asia 2020 winners

Outstanding Leadership and Management Team
Tsinghua University

International Strategy of the Year
Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTech)

Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year
An-Najah National University

Outstanding Support for Students
Katalyst, in collaboration with the College of Engineering Pune (COEP) and Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI)

Technological Innovation of the Year
Tsinghua University

Workplace of the Year
Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT)

Student Recruitment Campaign of the Year
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University

Excellence and Innovation in the Arts
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts

Regional or Societal Impact Award
Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

THE DataPoints Merit Award
King Abdulaziz University

Read more about the winners here.

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