Institutions, departments and individuals will compete in a total of 18 categories that aim to highlight and celebrate the achievements of the sector at a time of real adversity.
The categories range from Research Project of the Year and Widening Participation Initiative of the Year, to Most Innovative Teacher of the Year and the top prize of University of the Year.
For the first time, the 2012 awards will also include a category for Business School of the Year, which is open to private providers and those within the state-funded university sector.
As always, the winners will be announced at a gala awards ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, London, which will take place on 29 November.
John Gill, THE editor, said: "The resilience and strength of UK higher education in the face of great uncertainty and change over the past few years has been quite remarkable, and all of us at THE are hugely proud to play a part in supporting and celebrating the sector's creativity, imagination and sheer hard work.
"We hope that entries will come in from institutions up and down the land, because it is the diversity and breadth of our higher education sector that is so impressive and so envied on the global stage."
The full list of award categories is: Excellence and Innovation in the Arts; Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year; Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development; Outstanding Employer Engagement Initiative; Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community; the Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement Award; Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development; Outstanding Contribution to Innovation and Technology; Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers; Research Project of the Year; Outstanding Support for Students; Most Innovative Teacher of the Year; Most Improved Student Experience; Widening Participation Initiative of the Year; International Collaboration of the Year; Business School of the Year; Entrepreneurial University of the Year; and University of the Year.
The awards are free to enter, with every category open to all UK universities, and the deadline for submissions is 15 June.
• For more information, or to enter, visit www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/theawards.