The great and the good turned up at The Times Higher Awards to hear this year's verdict. Alan Thomson joined them in a toast to excellence
The winners had the X-factor and the guests enjoyed the wow-factor at this year's Times Higher Awards.
Almost 800 guests attended the black-tie ceremony held last Wednesday in the glittering Grand Ballroom at the London Hilton on Park Lane.
Guests assembled for a champagne reception in rooms overlooking Park Lane and Hyde Park before being seated at one of 80 tables in the vast ballroom.
The guest list included people from across higher education.
Many of the awards finalists travelled to London with teams of vociferous supporters who lent a festive spirit to the occasion.
Laurie Taylor, the broadcaster and Times Higher columnist, compered the event, and guests were treated to some comic highlights from the Articulated Laurie university roadshow before Professor Taylor introduced each of the 18 awards categories.
Presenting the awards were the great and the good from academe, showbusiness and the Government. Among them were Dame Diana Rigg, the actress and chancellor of Stirling University; Baroness Warwick, the chief executive of Universities UK, and Bill Rammell, the Higher Education Minister.
Mr Rammell paid tribute to all those shortlisted before he revealed that Nottingham University was the Times Higher Institution of the Year 2006. He praised the university's achievement in opening two branch campuses, one in China and one in Malaysia, in the same year.
John O'Leary, editor of The Times Higher , announced that Lisa Jardine, professor of Renaissance studies at Queen Mary, University of London, was the recipient of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award.
He hailed Professor Jardine's commitment to teaching and to the wider communication of knowledge.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, guests were invited to continue their celebrations on the dance floor, an invitation accepted with enthusiasm by scores of people.
Unofficial awards from The Times Higher newsroom go to the enterprising press and marketing staff at some universities who were on the phone first thing the following day asking for photographs from the awards evening to use on their websites and as part of their institutional marketing strategies.
The Times Higher wishes to thank the awards sponsors Hobsons, Microsoft, Toshiba Information Systems, Research Councils UK and the Higher Education Academy, which were all represented at the ceremony.
A special word of thanks must go to all this year's judges, who gave so generously of their time and without whom the awards would not have been possible.
Last, but certainly not least, The Times Higher wishes to extend its thanks, congratulations and best wishes to all those who entered our awards this year.
And remember that we will be accepting nominations for The Times Higher Awards 2007 in the spring.
- See list of winners and photos from the evening here