The University of Derby has been shortlisted for the sector’s most prestigious accolade – the Times Higher Education (THE) University of the Year Award 2019.
The THE Awards are widely acknowledged as the ‘Oscars of the higher education sector’ and recognise outstanding work and exceptional performance across 23 award categories, with the University of the Year Award being the most sought after.
Derby has been shortlisted in two other categories. Firstly, the Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year category, which recognises the innovative use of digital technology to improve any function at a university. In addition, Sian Burgess, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, has been nominated for the Most Innovative Teacher of the Year Award, designed to honour academics whose imagination and passion has transformed a course and inspired students.
Speaking about the triple shortlisting, Professor Kathryn Mitchell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Derby, said: “I am delighted that the University of Derby has been shortlisted for University of the Year Award. To be a finalist for such a well-respected and revered award is recognition of the great work our staff, students and stakeholders are undertaking to deliver a powerful regional university that addresses the needs of our students, region and beyond.
“I am extremely proud that the University has been shortlisted for Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year and would like to congratulate Sian on the tremendous achievement of being shortlisted for Most Innovative Teacher of the Year Award.
“As a TEF Gold university, the culture of teaching excellence plays a crucial role in enhancing and enriching our academic delivery, nurturing productive links between teaching, research and professional practice. We support, encourage and incentivise innovative teaching and assessment and we are committed to assuring that our pedagogic approach is transformational using research-informed Digital Learning methodology for our curriculum development.”
In the shortlisted award entry for University of the Year, Derby highlighted its growing reputation as a leading institution for social mobility, demonstrated by HEPI Fair Access Table ranking (2nd in the country), and its highest overall national league table position (26th – Guardian University Guide 2020).
The application emphasised Derby’s drive to address the grand challenge of the Industrial strategy and in particular, the regional skills gap with trailblazing programmes, such as the nursing associate, which provides a well-qualified workforce for our NHS and offers opportunities to many in the region to enter nursing. Derby is one of the first pilot sites with the largest single-University group of trainee nursing associates in the country.
Derby’s embedded practice of offering real world experiences has resulted in a 16% increase in graduate employability and 95% of its graduates are employed or in further study within six months of completing their studies, many within the region.
The University’s nomination for Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year stems from its holistic approach to establish future-fit curricula through an embedded and systematic digital pedagogy.
Sian Burgess, Senior Lecturer was nominated by one of the University of Derby’s graduates based upon her passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to her discipline of Occupational Therapy. This commitment has ensured that every student has the best possible academic and clinical experience. In the award submission, the nominator focused on the opportunities Sian creates for her students, the research she facilitates and her dedication to motivating and nurturing students.
Sian is highly regarded within the organisation, especially in promoting student voice and has been instrumental in launching the University’s Cohort Integration Project, which pairs second and third year students with first year students so they can share knowledge and experiences.
THE editor John Gill said: “The THE Awards hold a place in the hearts of many in UK higher education and have now been a fixture in the its calendar for well over a decade. This year we decided to incorporate the complementary strengths of our THE Leadership and Management Awards, so that the range of categories better reflects the reality of how universities operate today, and the interwoven nature of so much of what they do. This will be the biggest celebration of higher education that we have ever hosted.
“I am delighted to say that the ‘Oscars of higher education’ go from strength to strength. With 23 categories this year, we’re also showcasing more exceptional stories than ever before, and it’s a real honour for us to shine a spotlight on all those who have made it as far as these shortlists – their stories deserve much wider circulation.”