Higher education minister Margaret Hodge has praised lecturers for having "survived" a generation of underfunding.
Presenting the third national teaching fellowships in London, on Tuesday, she said that the 20 awards of £50,000 were a demonstration of the added esteem with which the government held higher education teaching.
Ms Hodge said that the government was looking at other incentives to reward teaching. She said: "Too much value has been given to research. If the government is serious about widening participation, it needs other incentives to value excellent teaching."