The Lancashire institution picked up the coveted title at the Times Higher Education Awards 2014, held in London yesterday evening attended by more than 1,000 staff from universities and colleges across the UK.
Judges in the awards were impressed with how Edge Hill had steadily built its reputation with strong performances and year-on-year improvement since it gained university status in 2006.
This was capped with an exceptional year in 2012-13, when it was one of only four universities in England to benefit from an increase in applications in the first year of higher fees.
John Gill, Times Higher Education editor, said: “Edge Hill is a great success story, having quietly established itself as an institution that improves and impresses year after year.
“Its achievements in student satisfaction and graduate employment were noted by our judges, as was its financial performance and the part it plays in transforming lives in the local region.”
Other winners at the ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane included Mike Shattock, visiting professor of higher education management at the Institute of Education, University of London and former University of Warwick registrar, who won the Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award; and James Pickering, lecturer in anatomy at the University of Leeds, who was named Most Innovative Teacher of the Year.
The University of Sheffield picked up three awards: one for Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers, another for Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year and a third for Outstanding International Student Strategy.
Anglia Ruskin University won Entrepreneurial University of the Year; the University of Nottingham won Research Project of the Year; and the University of Salford won for its Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology. Salford’s Business School also picked up the award for Business School of the Year.
The award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community went to the University of Manchester for the second year running; the University of Greenwich was named as organising the International Collaboration of the Year; and Norwich University of the Arts picked up the title for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts.
Other winners included Nottingham Trent University, which won the award for Outstanding Support for Students; Plymouth University, which triumphed in the Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative category; and The Open University, which won the award for Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year.
The ceremony was conducted by the comedian Jack Dee.