In what promises to be one of the highlights of The Times Higher 's awards ceremony in November, the paper will announce this year's institution with the X-factor, writes Alan Thomson.
With more than about 170 universities and colleges eligible to compete for the Institution of the Year award, this will be one of the most difficult categories to judge.
The main criterion for success will be an institution's ability to demonstrate a bold, imaginative and innovative initiative or approach to higher education.
Judges will take into account indicators such as an institution's research and teaching standards, access and business performance.
Three champions of higher education have been given the task of choosing a winner: Helena Kennedy QC, a leading barrister, Labour peer, writer and broadcaster; Bernadette Porter, the only nun to head a UK higher education institution, who handed over every penny of her six-figure salary from Roehampton University to her order, receiving a small allowance in return; and John O'Leary, editor of The Times Higher and The Times Good University Guide .