Times Higher Education Awards 2021: winners announced

Oxford coronavirus research honoured as Cardiff Met scoops coveted University of the Year title

November 25, 2021
Times Higher Education Awards 2021 winners
Source: Phillip Waterman

Coronavirus researchers at the University of Oxford whose discoveries have saved countless lives during the pandemic have been honoured at the 2021 Times Higher Education Awards.

Dame Sarah Gilbert, who developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, received the THE Outstanding Achievement Award, with the judges crediting the marrying of her long-standing experience in immunology to “phenomenal foresight, perseverance and sheer hard work”.

“We are all in Professor Gilbert’s debt,” the citation says.

Her colleagues on the Randomised Evaluation of Covid-19 Therapy project – known as the Recovery trial – which has sought to rapidly generate robust evidence about potential coronavirus treatments, topped the entries to the Research Project of the Year: STEM category.

And the work of Oxford’s public affairs directorate to make the university the go-to source of information for policymakers and the media during the pandemic delivered a third win for the institution on the night, in the Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team category.

The awards – dubbed the “Oscars of higher education” and now in their 17th year – span 20 categories covering the full range of university activities. This year’s winners, focusing on achievements during 2019-20, were announced at a ceremony at London’s Hilton London Metropole hotel.

The coveted University of the Year title went to Cardiff Metropolitan University, with the judges noting its speedy and positive response to Covid-19 and the completion of a remarkable turnaround of an institution that at one stage had its future in doubt.

Key developments under its strategic plan included the creation of the Cardiff School of Technologies, the development of 40 new degree programmes, growth in both student numbers and student satisfaction, increased research volume and quality, and a move to strong financial sustainability.

Several categories honoured universities’ response to the pandemic, with the University of Glasgow winning Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year for establishing the UK’s biggest coronavirus testing centre, the Lighthouse Laboratory.

John Gill, THE’s editor, said universities had excelled in “unprecedented circumstances”.

“Universities’ great strength is not just that they respond to circumstances, but that they also provide a level of constancy at times of uncertainty and change,” Mr Gill added.

“The award winners demonstrate that 2019-20 was not just a year of pandemic disruption, it was also a year in which incredible achievements were made in all the areas you would hope and expect: world-changing research, brilliant learning and teaching, international and industrial engagement, and the full gamut of activities that run through universities like words through a stick of rock.”

The awards attracted a record haul of nearly 600 entries, with institutions in the Republic of Ireland able to enter for the first time this year alongside their UK peers.


Times Higher Education Awards 2021 winners

University of the Year
Cardiff Metropolitan University

THE Outstanding Achievement Award
Dame Sarah Gilbert, Saïd professor of vaccinology, University of Oxford

Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team
University of Oxford
Highly commended: University of the West of England

Outstanding Estates Team
Newcastle University

Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
University of Nottingham
Highly commended: Bournemouth University and the University of Strathclyde

Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year
Manchester Metropolitan University
Highly commended: Waterford Institute of Technology

Outstanding Entrepreneurial University
Sheffield Hallam University

Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year
King’s College London

Outstanding Support for Students
De Montfort University

Outstanding Technician of the Year
Andrew Filby, Newcastle University
Highly commended: Paul Rowley, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Research Project of the Year: STEM
University of Oxford, Nuffield Department of Population Health
Highly commended: University of Glasgow

Outstanding Library Team
University of the Arts London

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
University of Glasgow (Lighthouse Laboratory)

Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
Richard Godwin, Harper Adams University

THE DataPoints Merit Award
Bournemouth University

International Collaboration of the Year
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine
Highly commended: the universities of Kent and Cambridge, on behalf of the GCRF COMPASS project

Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
Edinburgh Napier University

Business School of the Year
School of Management, University of Bradford

Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
Liam Jarvis, University of Essex


Read more about the winning entries here.

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