University Awards 2020: The Categories

The 2020 awards comprise of 14 categories, presenting a range of opportunities for universities to showcase their unique areas of expertise. Universities may submit entries for as many categories as they desire.

Judging will be carried out by a representative panel, drawn from the higher education sector throughout the UK. Winners will be announced online in autumn and the Guardian will give coverage to all shortlisted entries.

The categories are:

1. Staff experience: This award recognizes notable initiatives that have measurably improved working conditions for staff, from equality and diversity to pay and pensions.

2. Business collaboration: This award recognizes exceptional collaborations between universities and businesses, both regional and international, where shared knowledge and resources benefit the wider economy.

3. Digital innovation, supported by Adobe: This award recognizes universities that employ innovative digital technologies to improve the student experience when it comes to pedagogy and online course delivery.

4. Employability and entrepreneurship: This award recognizes successful initiatives that provide students with the skills they require for the job market, as well as offering networking opportunities and access to potential employers. It also promotes creativity and enablement among students to launch enterprises of their own.

5. Internationalization, supported by PingPong Digital: This award celebrates outstanding projects, ventures, and collaborations that demonstrate the university’s global vision and ambition.

6. Marketing and communications campaigns: This award celebrates creative university campaigns that impart a clear and concise message that engages their target audience while enhancing the university’s profile.

7. Research impact: This award recognizes research projects that demonstrate either academic impact by advancing knowledge, or which lead to measurable benefits for the wider society and economy.

8. Course design, retention, and student outcomes: This award recognizes institutional or departmental efforts to reimagine university education and provide focused support to a diverse range of students, including those at risk of underperforming.

9. Social and community impact: This award celebrates programs that engage with local, national, or global communities, leading to lasting and positive changes.

10. Student experience: This award acknowledges innovative initiatives that have positively impacted the academic and personal experiences of the student body.

11. Buildings that inspire: This award celebrates capital projects that improve the student and/or staff experience, fostering a better living and working environment.

12. Sustainability, supported by Salix Finance: This award recognizes projects that reduce carbon emissions, waste, and the university’s environmental footprint.

13. Teaching excellence, supported by Jisc: This award recognizes teaching initiatives that inspire student learning and attainment through innovative pedagogy, and places teaching at the forefront of the university’s mission.

14. Widening access and outreach: This award celebrates initiatives that have demonstrably led to an increase in the number of disadvantaged and underrepresented students entering university, through collaborations with schools and communities to raise aspirations.

The University of the Year, supported by Adobe, will be awarded to the university that combines academic excellence with a commendable widening participation program, emphasizing tailored support for students from diverse backgrounds to succeed. Universities cannot apply for this category as it is calculated by the Guardian team based on several measures, including performance and improvement in the Guardian league tables.

Join Guardian Universities for additional commentary, analysis, and job opportunities sent directly to your inbox. Follow us on Twitter @GdnUniversities.


  • rosewebb

    Rose Webb is an educational blogger and volunteer who also studies for a degree in law. She loves to write about her experiences and share her knowledge with others, and is passionate about helping others to achieve their goals.

Back to top