Prize night for unexpected delights and top teachers

Serendipity, pedagogy and engineering are offered a chance to shine in new Awards categories

February 26, 2009

Teaching and research, the core missions of higher education, will be honoured in new categories at this year's Times Higher Education Awards.

The Serendipity Award, sponsored by Research Councils UK, will honour inspirational researchers and recognise the unpredictable nature of the pursuit of knowledge. The judges will favour projects where unexpected opportunities have been seized for economic or societal gain.

A second new award will honour the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year. Up to five members of staff can be nominated from any single institution, and the judges will look for someone who demonstrates individuality in his or her approach to teaching.

Entrants will be asked to give examples of how they have pushed the boundaries of their profession, and the judges will be particularly interested to hear testimonials from students who have benefited from their efforts.

A third new category will honour the Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year.

Marking a further change, the Lifetime Achievement Award has been renamed the Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of the author of the 1997 review of higher education, who died last week.

Ann Mroz, editor of Times Higher Education, said: "We're delighted to add these awards to recognise and celebrate excellence in the core functions of higher education in a year when the future of the sector will be subject to fierce political debate.

"The Serendipity Award celebrates the potential of curiosity-driven, blue-skies thinking at a time when demands for short-term economic impact are changing the funding environment for research.

"The teaching award, of course, recognises the ability of academics to inspire a new generation.

"The Times Higher Education Awards are in their fifth year and are firmly established as a high point in the sector's calendar, recognising and rewarding the phenomenal talent and commitment in UK academia."

The ceremony will take place at a black-tie dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 15 October. At last year's event, more than 1,300 guests attended. There are 18 categories and entries must be received by 5 June.

For full details of how to apply, visit:


  • University of the Year
  • Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
  • Serendipity Award, sponsored by Research Councils UK
  • Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year, sponsored by BAE Systems
  • Outstanding Support for Early Careers Researchers, sponsored by RCUK in association with Vitae
  • Research Project of the Year
  • The Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Entrepreneurial University of the Year, sponsored by NCGE
  • Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative, sponsored by Foundation Degree Forward
  • Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development, sponsored by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education
  • Outstanding Support for Students, sponsored by the Quality Assurance Agency
  • Most Improved Student Experience
  • Excellence and Innovation in the Arts
  • Widening Participation Initiative of the Year
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
  • Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year, sponsored by the Joint Information Systems Committee
  • Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development, in association with Forum for the Future
  • Outstanding Contribution to Innovation & Technology.

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