Winners will stand out from the crowd

June 2, 2006

Higher Education Institution of the Year

It was testimony to the many strengths of the UK university sector that last year judges found this a tough category to call.

Eventually, it was the sheer scope and scale of Manchester University's achievements in the previous year that clinched it. These included a merger to create the country's biggest university and the initiation of a plan to make it one of the world's best.

Speaking to The Times Higher this week, a university spokesman said that in addition to the honour, there were practical benefits to winning the award.

"Winning The Times Higher title has certainly helped to enhance the reputation and profile of Manchester University over the past six months," he said. "It is also helping us to continue to attract high-calibre staff and students."

Judges for this award will be barrister Baroness Kennedy; Bernadette Porter, former vice-chancellor at Roehampton University; and John O'Leary, Times Higher editor.

Hobsons, the student recruitment marketing and management specialist, is sponsoring the award for the second year running.

Widening Participation Initiative of the Year

Applicants to the Widening Participation Initiative of the Year are advised by the 2005 winner "to find a niche in the market and make your 'product' stand out from the rest".

That's the tip from Vicky Schofield-Vollans, head of the Learner Development Unit at the University of Central England, who won for the Breakthrough to Learning materials - which are now being developed for the university's website. UCE's Breakthrough to Learning project stood out for judges last year because it was believed to be unique in the sector.

The project aims to help students gain the confidence and the grades to apply for university by improving their grasp of often alienating or intimidating "academic English".

The judges for the award are Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust; Liz Thomas, senior adviser on widening participation for the Higher Education Academy; and Sir David Watson, professor of higher education management at the Institute of Education, University of London.

To make a nomination, visit www.thes.co.uk/awards

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