Record awards shortlist at higher education 'Oscars'

  • Date

    Thu 7 Sep 23

Times Higher Education Awards logo

Essex has received the joint highest number of shortlisted entries at the Times Higher Education Awards 2023, dubbed the 'Oscars' of higher education.

For the first time, Essex has been shortlisted in a total of four categories: International Collaboration of the Year, Most Innovative Teacher, Outstanding Support for Students, and Research Project of the Year (STEM).

Only one other university, Cardiff Metropolitan University, has received four shortlists in this year’s record-breaking haul of entries.

In the Outstanding Support for Students category, Essex is shortlisted for the Essex Preparation Programme which is driving up engagement and retention and giving students greater confidence as independent learners. The scheme gives applicants the support they need and makes them feel connected to our community before they even enrol.

Dr Rebecca Warren, who was inspired by her own experience as the first in her family to go to university when she developed the Democracy in Action module, is up for the Most Innovative Teacher Award. She is described by her students as “an extraordinary teacher who possesses a spark, with the ability to create such in the students she teaches”. If she wins, she’ll be the second Essex lecturer to scoop the prestigious individual award in two years after Dr Liam Jarvis won in 2021.

Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education said: “At Essex we have always been committed to offering students the very best in both living and learning. Two shortlists in categories relating to our student offer is therefore a huge honour, especially as we celebrate our 60th anniversary. It is testament to the dedication, creativity and hard work of all our staff who contribute to making Essex such a wonderful place to study.”

The multi-million-dollar-funded RIPE project, which aims to end world hunger by engineering plants to improve crop yields and is led by scientists at the University of Illinois, is shortlisted for the International Collaboration of the Year award. The shortlist recognises Essex’s plant physiology and photosynthesis group, one of the oldest in the UK, which has long been at the forefront of plant productivity research.

Psychologist Dr Nick Cooper and former PhD student Dr Mark Wheeler are shortlisted in one of the two coveted Research Project of the Year awards. They are recognised in the STEM category for their work which is transforming the rehabilitation of veterans suffering from PTSD. Their work, which has been praised by the Ministry of Defence, is shaping mental health treatment at the NHS Essex Partnership University Trust.

Professor Chris Greer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research said: “It’s fantastic to receive national recognition for two projects in our Faculty of Science and Health, both of which are changing lives. I’m incredibly proud of how our research community is rising to the global challenges of the twenty-first century and inspired by their desire to make the world a better place.”

The awards, which will be presented at a ceremony in Liverpool in December, recognise the work of 74 universities across 20 categories.