The finalists for The Herald Higher Education Awards 2022 have been announced and institutions from across the country are represented in a line-up  that covers the entire scope of academic endeavour.

This is the seventh year that the awards have taken place and they have come to be recognised as a measure of the health of a sector that educates more than 300,000 students every year, employs almost 37,000 people, supports an equivalent number of jobs through supply chains, and adds £4.6 billion to the Scottish economy.

The last two years have been amongst the most challenging that colleges and universities have ever experienced, but these institutions have proven to be agile and innovative, pivoting quickly to meet the needs of students and ensuring the welfare of their workforces and these efforts are reflected in this year’s finalists who are drawn from Inverness to Dumfries and Galloway.

Amongst the 16 categories this year is the Enhancing Student Learning Award, which is sponsored by QAA Scotland. This looks at the different ways in which education has been supported and five finalists have been chosen, each for different initiatives aimed at helping students  to engage fully with their chosen studies.

The mental health of students is a top priority and the Supporting Student Wellbeing Award, which this year is sponsored by Studiosity, has taken on added significance in recent times, so it is significant that a number of listening services that are amongst the finalists, along with projects aimed at reducing violence and enhancing student safety.

There are awards for both students and staff who have made an outstanding contribution to academic life and to institutions that have played a significant part in the lives of their local communities while the Research Project of the Year category, sponsored by the Scottish Funding Council, highlights the impressive and innovative work, with the potential to change lives and the environment for the better,  that is emerging from Scotland’s educational establishments.

Collaboration with business and industry, the public sector and with other educational bodies plays an important part in the success of colleges and universities and there are a number of  categories that focus on links that have been developed with life sciences, manufacturing, knowledge transfer and other sectors, while amongst those projects that are on the shortlist for the Innovative Use of Technology Award, sponsored by Jisc, is a VR dementia experience developed by Edinburgh College and a Code Break app that is the work of the Open University.

Communicating this work is vital in order to attract students, funding and partners and the importance of this is recognised in an award for the Marketing or PR Campaign of the Year, while other categories focus on successful efforts to widen access and to improve equality, diversity and inclusion for everyone.

Amongst the significant names who are on the shortlist for the Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by City of Glasgow College, are Professor Alan Miller, Scottish Universities Physics Alliance; Professor John Struthers, University of the West of Scotland; Marjory Crooks, Edinburgh College and Dr Veena O’Halloran ,University of Strathclyde while the winner of the Higher Educational Institution of the Year Award will be revealed on the night.

Roy Gardner, Vice Principal for Corporate Development & Innovation at City of Glasgow College, said: “Congratulations go to this year’s deserving finalists. Year on year we see an exceptionally strong shortlist which is testament to the outstanding quality of work that is ongoing across Scotland’s education sector.”

Caroline Turnbull, Acting Director for Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland, QAA, said: “We’re looking forward to celebrating with the award winners on May 31st. The quality of the submissions received was very high and it was inspiring to learn more about the diverse range of projects and approaches being adopted across the higher education sector in Scotland. All the finalists have worked hard in what has continued to be a challenging period and they should be very proud of their achievements!”

And Donald Martin, Newsquest Editor-in-Chief and Chair of the Judging panel, said: “It has been  encouraging to see how well the higher educational sector in Scotland has responded to recent events and has developed new skills and strategies that it is using to develop all of its services as we emerge from the pandemic. We have also been hugely impressed by the calibre of this year’s finalists and we look forward to congratulating the winners on the night.”

The Herald Higher Education Awards will take place on Tuesday, May 31 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Glasgow and there is still time to book a place at the event. Full details are available at https://newsquestscotlandevents.com/events/heawards/ or email linsey.hunter@newsquest.co.uk

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