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This year's awards focus primarily on activity during the 2019-20 academic year, so we expect the sector's outstanding responses to the Covid-19 pandemic to feature heavily across most categories. However, excellent work that was unrelated to and unaffected by the pandemic has still taken place, and our judges are keen to consider those entries too.

From 8 April, please select the category you wish to enter below and click 'Enter now' to continue through to the entry process.

  1. University of the Year
  2. Business School of the Year
  3. International Collaboration of the Year
  4. Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
  5. Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
  6. Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  7. Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
  8. Outstanding Entrepreneurial University
  9. Outstanding Estates Team
  10. Outstanding Library Team
  11. Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team
  12. Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
  13. Outstanding Support for Students
  14. Outstanding Technician of the Year
  15. Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  16. Research Project of the Year: STEM
  17. Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year
  18. Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year
  19. THE Outstanding Achievement Award

In addition to the 19 listed here, there will be one additional category that does not require submissions. The THE DataPoints Merit Award will be based on data THE collects for its suite of rankings, but is unrelated to the rankings themselves. Taking a fresh look at the data each year, we reveal something new about university performance that the rankings do not capture. Further details will be provided in due course, and we will notify shortlisted institutions directly on 9 September 2021.

University of the Year

This will be awarded to an institution that demonstrated exceptional performance during the 2019-20 academic year. If your entry is based on a long-term strategy that has come to fruition during this period, we will accept information dating from the outset. This category is open to all higher education institutions across the UK and Ireland.

  • Research, teaching, access, leadership development programmes and business performance will all be taken into account. Judges will also look for evidence of particular bold, imaginative and innovative initiatives during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • Please provide examples of creative leadership and management across the institution, and show how you have anticipated change in the higher education system and environment in which you operate.
  • Submissions should demonstrate what was unique about your institution and its achievements in 2019-20.


Judges will visit each shortlisted institution.

Business School of the Year

This award will go to the business school demonstrating the most outstanding overall performance during the 2019-20 academic year. It is open to all business schools in the UK and Ireland, including those situated within universities and those in the private sector.

Qualities we will be looking for in submissions might include:

  • Evidence of exceptional performance against specific indicators such as innovation, teaching, research, student experience, alumni relations and development.
  • Evidence showing how the school’s work has impacted on business and/or society more generally.
  • Evidence of how the school has built partnerships with the business community and other organisations, bringing benefits to both sides.
  • Evidence showing why you stand out from the crowd in this most competitive of marketplaces.

Judges will be looking for bold and creative strategies and initiatives that have helped the school to improve and flourish in the year in question.

International Collaboration of the Year

This award will recognise exceptional projects or joint ventures carried out between a UK or Irish institution and one or more international partners, and focuses on collaborations at a strategic level. It is open to teams in any discipline or department.

  • Explain the background to your collaboration. Why was it necessary and what were its primary objectives? Did your work meet societal needs, and if so, how? What was the relevance to the universities involved?
  • Describe what challenges arose and how you worked with your international partner/s to overcome them.
  • Has the collaboration led to other projects or a long-term relationship with your partner institution/s?
  • Did your work have significant, demonstrable impact on the world at large?
  • Explain how your collaboration has enhanced your institution’s international profile and delivered on its ambitions.

Judges will look for evidence of creative collaborations and imaginative communication of research results.


Please note that this category focuses on the collaboration rather than the detail of any research (there are other categories for research projects).

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year

This award recognises the most innovative and original initiative in knowledge exchange or transfer in the academic year 2019-20.

  • Outline the initiative’s origins and explain what makes it new and pioneering.
  • Describe its objectives and detail how these have been met or exceeded.
  • Explain how your initiative has had a transformative effect on both your institution and your non-academic partner or partners, and demonstrate how it addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Judges will look for effective collaboration between academics, administrators and business partners, and for the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.

Most Innovative Teacher of the Year

This award will recognise the academic whose imagination and passion have transformed a course and inspired students. Entries will be accepted from institutions, teachers themselves or their colleagues, but in all cases the institution must support the submission and student testimonies must be included in the supplementary documentation. 

Judges will be looking for:

  • Evidence of how the nominee evaluates and develops their professional progress with regard to teaching.
  • Exceptional engagement with students and how this has impacted positively in and beyond their academic role. If applicable, explain how this has had an effect beyond their institution.
  • Evidence of a sustained commitment to advancing and positively influencing the student experience.


Alongside submissions for this category, we’re giving you the opportunity to share your teaching knowledge with our global audience on THE Campus , our recently launched teaching and learning practice hub.

Please note that this is purely about exposure for your ideas. The resource you submit will not have any bearing on the judges' assessment of your THE Awards entry.

Required specifications and further details can be found here .

Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

This award will recognise and reward a university that has built a truly inclusive environment in which all staff and students are treated fairly and with respect, and where diversity is championed.

You may refer to long-standing policies or programmes, but judges will be looking for bold initiatives that have come to fruition during the 2019-20 academic year. Initiatives may focus on the staff or student body, or both, and can be either innovative in themselves, or based on the brilliant implementation of existing ideas.

  • Outline the equality, diversity or inclusion needs that your initiative sought to address.
  • What form did your work take? Has it been transformative and is it transferable to other institutions?
  • What makes your work sustainable?
  • What differentiates your initiative from those taking place elsewhere?

Provide evidence of the impact of your work on the university as a whole.

Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community

This award will be given to the individual, team or institution that has made the most imaginative attempt to aid the wider community socially, culturally or economically.

  • Describe the background to and context of your initiative.
  • Explain the nature of the work and the challenges involved.
  • Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success. Show how the project has made a difference to the target community.
  • Outline how staff and students contributed to the success of the project.

Outstanding Entrepreneurial University

This award recognises an institution that has developed and delivered an exceptional approach to embedding entrepreneurship within its culture and programmes. Entries should demonstrate a significant impact at regional, national or international level, but also show how the university itself has benefitted.

In particular, judges will be looking for an institution:

  • whose vision and strategy place enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of the organisation
  • where an environment has been created that encourages entrepreneurial mindsets and behaviours in staff, students and alumni and ensures that ideas and innovation are nurtured and given the support they need to flourish
  • where the strategic approach to entrepreneurship has the potential to influence and improve other institutions’ work in this area, whether directly or because it is transferable in the sector more widely.


Please note that this award focuses on entrepreneurialism at an institutional level, so if your entry is based on an initiative that was first conceived to address a departmental or faculty need, please tell us how this came to benefit the university as a whole.

Outstanding Estates Team

This award recognises outstanding work across all estates department functions, so entries may focus on the delivery of an overall strategy, a specific exemplar project or a series of related initiatives rolled out together, We are looking to reward the institution with the best story to tell about the academic year 2019-20, although, given the timeframe of many estates projects, information from the past three academic years may be included.

  • Show how the institution, the student community or both have benefited from the work.
  • Tell us about the construction of innovative new buildings, the redevelopment and renovation of existing buildings, projects you have undertaken to improve operational facilities, or the successful implementation of a new estates strategy.
  • Does your work challenge established thinking in the sector?
  • How are you developing and encouraging sustainable solutions across your estate?
  • How have you worked to reduce estates costs, and what savings have you delivered? For example, have you looked at sharing the management of your facilities with other educational establishments or implemented new structures or contract arrangements in commercial partnerships?
  • Show how you have engaged the wider institutional leadership in estates issues, and provide examples of the adoption of solutions and practice from other sectors.
  • Outline how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Outstanding Library Team

This award recognises outstanding work in library and information-services departments.

  • Explain how your team has personalised the delivery and support of library space, services and content provision.
  • Describe how the team developed the library’s digital environment to benefit users.
  • Detail how your team exploited physical and virtual space to provide a complementary, blended service.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes.

Judges will look for evidence of collaboration with other administrative and academic departments that enhanced your team’s delivery, and for examples of the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team

This award recognises outstanding work in marketing and communications departments.

  • Show how your communications strategy and initiatives have delivered quantifiable changes in the public perception of your institution or have reshaped behaviour within it.
  • Supply examples of shared collaborative ownership of marketing and communications initiatives across your institution’s leadership and management teams and highlight the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.
  • Outline your objectives for the 2019-20 academic year, and explain how your team met or exceeded them.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes.

Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year

This award will be given to the individual who has created the most supportive, stimulating and inspirational research environment for doctoral students. Entries will be accepted from institutions, supervisors themselves or their colleagues, but in all cases the institution must support the submission and student testimonies must be included in the supplementary documentation.

The qualities we will be looking for in nominees might include:

  • Evidence of outstanding results of their supervision over a number of years (Have students from a range of backgrounds been encouraged to pursue a doctorate? What have they gone on to achieve?)
  • A pioneering approach to supervision: what has the nominee done above and beyond that which is expected of any good supervisor?
  • Demonstrable enthusiasm for the role and going the extra mile to help students navigate through difficulties, academic or otherwise.
  • Challenging students intellectually and helping them to make substantial contributions to their academic field.
  • Providing additional support and facilities to give greater scope to their research.
  • Providing supervision to an exceptional number of candidates over time.
  • Offering constructive employment and career advice post-graduation.

Outstanding Support for Students

This award will be given to the UK or Irish institution that helps students to gain the maximum benefit from their study. Both pastoral and academic support packages will be considered, and this category is open to those working in departments across an institution, as well as dedicated Student Services teams.

  • Describe the background to and context of your approach or initiative.
  • Explain the nature of the support package. Detail how it works and explain why it is innovative and effective.
  • What were the results? Have you attracted more students? How were the measures received by student bodies? Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success.
  • Outline your principal achievements during the 2019-20 academic year.
  • Summarise what you were trying to achieve, how you set about achieving it and how you plan to monitor the impact of the scheme.

Outstanding Technician of the Year

This award will be given to an individual whose exceptional practical skills, commitment and vision have enabled the highest quality teaching, research or knowledge transfer. It is open to technicians working in any discipline in UK or Irish universities and research institutes. Entries will be accepted from institutions, technicians themselves, their colleagues or students, but in all cases testimonies must form part of the supporting documentation.

Submissions may address some or all of the following:

  • A technician's essential contribution to a project or ongoing piece of work. How was the impact evaluated?
  • How the nominee works with academics, students and others to build a strong working environment in which all parties thrive.
  • If innovations or efficiencies have been delivered, tell us how this has been done.
  • Beyond the day-to-day role, has the nominee been involved in building a strong community of technicians within an institution, or undertaken other activities in line with the aims of the Technician Commitment?
  • Does the nominee represent technical staff on institutional committees or boards? If so, explain how they have successfully brought the technician's voice to its decision-making.

Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

This will be awarded to the individual or team at a UK or Irish higher education institution for innovative arts, humanities or social sciences research that has a far-reaching impact and has caught, or has the potential to catch, the imagination of the public. Submissions should demonstrate the economic, social, cultural or other public benefit of the research, and judges will be looking for entries that have raised the profile of the field in question.

  • Explain the background to your project. Why was the research necessary and what were its primary objectives?
  • Describe how the research was funded, what the work involved and what challenges arose.
  • What did the results reveal and what are the potential wider benefits to society? Has it led to other projects or new avenues of exploration?
  • Judges will look for evidence of significant or novel results, creative collaborations and imaginative communication of research results.

Research Project of the Year: STEM

This will be awarded to the individual or team at a UK or Irish higher educaiton institution for innovative research in STEM subjects that has a far-reaching impact and has caught, or has the potential to catch, the imagination of the public. Submissions should demonstrate the economic, social, cultural or other public benefit of the research, and judges will be looking for entries that have raised the profile of the field in question.

  • Explain the background to your project. Why was the research necessary and what were its primary objectives?
  • Describe what the work involved and what challenges arose.
  • What did the results reveal and what are the potential wider benefits to society? Has it led to other projects or new avenues of exploration?
  • Judges will look for evidence of significant or novel results, creative collaborations and imaginative communication of research results. 

Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year

This award recognises the innovative use of digital technology to improve any function at a university, be that at institutional, departmental or faculty level. Entries may therefore focus on leadership, management, administration, teaching, research or knowledge transfer.

We will accept submissions based technological breakthroughs that were conceived and developed at an institution, or the innovative use of existing technology to improve a university’s operations and outcomes across its core functions.

Judges will be looking for initiatives that have delivered efficiencies and enhanced productivity, so submissions should ideally demonstrate savings in terms of cost or time as well as improved performance. Providing that impact can be demonstrated, judges will consider projects that aren’t yet concluded.

  • Show how the initiative addresses a specific institutional need or challenge.
  • Describe why the initiative is innovative, and outline the technologies and approaches used.
  • Demonstrate the effective use of leading-edge practices, and how your approach embraces digital technology to implement improvements.
  • Describe how those involved have overcome cultural, financial and other barriers to succeed.
  • Is the innovation scalable, and could it be replicated elsewhere in the sector?

Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year

This award will go to the most imaginative and innovative project that promotes diversity and encourages people from non-traditional backgrounds to enter higher education or extends the reach of the institution to new areas of activity. It is open to individuals, departments or institutions in the UK or Ireland.

  • Describe the background to and context of your widening-participation or outreach initiative.
  • How was it rolled out?
  • What were the results? Provide evidence of demonstrable progress or success, including impact on student recruitment.
  • How does your initiative differ from standard practice in the sector? Is it transferable as an example of good practice?

THE Outstanding Achievement Award

This award will be given to the individual who, in the opinion of Times Higher Education, deserves to be honoured for his or her contribution to higher education above and beyond their own professional role. Institutions and individuals are welcome to submit nominations for consideration.


Please note: This award no longer focuses exclusively on a lifetime’s work – individuals may be recognised for outstanding endeavours over shorter periods where the resulting impact has been profound, game-changing, or otherwise remarkable.