The University of Essex’s renewed commitment to living up to the radical values of its foundation secured it the title of University of the Year at the Times Higher Education Awards 2018.
Judges praised Essex as “a university that is putting people first”, highlighting the institution’s decisive move to eliminate the gender pay gap for professorial staff by moving women up three specially created pay levels.
“The gender pay gap exists everywhere, but this university said what no one else dared to say: ‘There is an easy way to get rid of the pay gap – spend the money necessary to get rid of it. And do it now,’” said one member of the panel.
Essex also drew on what it described as the “rebellious” heritage of its 1960s foundation when it decided to move graduate teaching assistants on to staff contracts, ensured that it paid all staff more than the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage, and embraced a “systematic” approach to decasualising the workforce.
The awards were presented at a ceremony hosted by the comedian Sandi Toksvig at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. They recognise UK universities and their staff for exceptional teaching, research, student support, entrepreneurship, collaborations and outreach.
John Gill, THE’s editor, said that this year’s winners were an “inspiration” to the UK sector.
“The judges of the THE Awards 2018 found shortlists packed with creativity, bold thinking and action. Indeed, they reported that this year’s entries were the strongest that they could remember,” Mr Gill said.
There was a triple success for the University of Central Lancashire, which topped the International Collaboration of the Year and Excellence and Innovation in the Arts categories, and was a collaborator with the charity Recycling Lives, which won the Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration title.
Meanwhile there was a double victory for the University of Hertfordshire, which won the Research Project of the Year: STEM prize and saw Theo Gilbert, an academic skills lecturer, named Most Innovative Teacher of the Year.
The Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award went to Baroness Warnock, the moral philosopher who was mistress of Girton College, Cambridge between 1984 and 1991 and chaired the inquiry which led, in 1990, to the passing of legislation regulating in vitro fertilisation and research using human embryos. The citation quotes Laurie Taylor, the sociologist and broadcaster, as stating of Baroness Warnock that “no one of our generation has better claim to the title ‘public intellectual’”.
Times Higher Education Awards 2018 Winners
University of the Year
University of Essex
Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
Theo Gilbert, University of Hertfordshire
Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development
University of Stirling
Most Innovative Contribution to Business-University Collaboration
Recycling Lives, in collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire
Highly commended: Burleigh Pottery, in collaboration with the University of the West of England
International Impact Award
Canterbury Christ Church University, in collaboration with the Palestinian Ministry of Education and Higher Education
Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year
University of East London
Technological Innovation of the Year
Harper Adams University
Outstanding Support for Students
University of Kent
Outstanding Entrepreneurial University
King’s College London
Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
Helen Gleeson, University of Leeds
Business School of the Year
ESCP Europe Business School (London)
THE DataPoints Merit Award
University of Dundee
The Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award
Research Project of the Year: STEM
University of Hertfordshire