In what is fast becoming one of the highlights of higher education's social calendar, the Times Higher Awards 2006 were launched with a champagne party in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Some 250 guests packed the gallery in celebration of last year's hugely successful inaugural awards and in anticipation of a bigger and better second year.
John O'Leary, editor of The Times Higher , told guests the 2005 awards had exceeded all expectations in terms of the number and quality of nominations. This year's will be presented at London's Park Lane Hilton Hotel in November.
Five of this year's 18 awards are new: Outstanding Student Finance Support Package, Outstanding Support for Early-career Researchers, Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology, Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development and Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development (details opposite).
Laurie Taylor, Times Higher columnist and broadcaster, amused guests by adding a few spoof awards of his own, including the Award for the Shortest Time to Repay Student Debt (14 years, he reckoned). And Professor Taylor also got the biggest cheer of the night when he urged guests to exploit the fact that The Times Higher was paying for all the champagne!