Times Higher Education Awards 2020: winners announced

Glasgow named University of the Year for addressing legacy of its ties to the slave trade

November 26, 2020
University of Glasgow principal Anton Muscatelli
University of Glasgow principal Anton Muscatelli

The University of Glasgow’s sector-leading efforts to tackle modern-day race-based inequalities by addressing uncomfortable truths in its past secured it the top prize at the Times Higher Education Awards 2020.

The Scottish institution was named University of the Year at the 16th annual “Oscars of higher education”, which were held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Across 20 categories, universities and their staff from across the UK were recognised for exceptional teaching, research, student support, entrepreneurship, collaborations and outreach.

Glasgow’s winning entry focused on its decisive response to a report exploring the institution’s historical links with the slave trade, which included a pledge to spend £20 million in reparations, establishing a Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research with the University of the West Indies, scholarships for ethnic minority students, and a far-reaching programme of research collaboration focused on the Global South.

The university’s actions led the way for the UK sector – it is now advising many others – but also fundamentally repositioned the institution, putting issues such as decolonising the curriculum at the heart of its next strategic plan, and setting a high bar for future action demanded on challenges such as climate change.

The judges hailed Glasgow as a “hugely deserving” winner. “At a time when universities are too often on the back foot in public debates about value and relevance, Glasgow stood out as a shining example of what a university should be: institutions of courage and action, uniquely placed to tackle the biggest issues facing the world,” they said.

This year’s event featured a new award, Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, which went to the University of Worcester for its “whole institutional” approach to the issue, which included action on disabled access and closing the gender pay gap.

It also included a revamped THE Outstanding Achievement Award, which no longer exclusively recognises a lifetime’s work, but now also a specific piece of work where “the resulting impact has been profound, game-changing, or otherwise remarkable”. This year the prize was given to admissions teams from across UK higher education, recognising their collective response to the summer’s examinations crisis.

John Gill, THE’s editor, said that “the brilliance on display in every category, from institutions the length and breadth of the country, is a reminder of the role that universities must, and will, play in guiding the way through [the coronavirus] crisis”.


Times Higher Education Awards 2020 winners

THE Outstanding Achievement Award
Admissions teams, UK higher education 

Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
University of Worcester 

Outstanding Support for Students
Nottingham Trent University 

Business School of the Year
Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University 

Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
Tara Moore, Ulster University 

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
University of the West of Scotland 

Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year
University of Exeter 

Research Project of the Year: STEM
Heriot-Watt University

Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Royal Holloway, University of London

THE DataPoints Merit Award
University of Surrey 

Outstanding Library Team
University of Edinburgh

Outstanding Technician of the Year
John Waters, University of Liverpool 

Outstanding Estates Strategy
University of Birmingham 

Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
University of Manchester 

Outstanding Entrepreneurial University
Aston University 

Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year
Royal Northern College of Music 

International Collaboration of the Year
Swansea University, in collaboration with UK and international partners 

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team
Staffordshire University 

Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
Judith Francois, Kingston University

University of the Year
University of Glasgow


Read more about the winning entries here.

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Reader's comments (3)

Universities should be primarily judged on their scientific achievements, not on their activism. Another nail in the coffin of science.
Another year and another vacuous award by this rag (in addition to its meaningless rankings and useless summits). All performative rubbish with little substance or validity (but probably a nice money spinner for THE).
As a Glasgow University graduate I am deeply ashamed that it has wasted £20 million in this way. I will never give the university a donation as it wants its money on drivel like this

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