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Accolades flow for innovation and excellence

Teesside rewarded with top prize in 2009 sector awards

Teesside University was named as the Times Higher Education University of the Year at the sector’s biggest awards in London last night.

The university was awarded the top prize for its “outstanding regional economic strategy and strong financial performance” at a glittering ceremony in the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane.

Award judge Dianne Willcocks, vice-chancellor of York St John University, praised Teesside for its “history of working with communities and businesses that makes it the public benefactor par excellence and truly a well-merited winner”.

Other winners at the black-tie event, which was overseen by host Clive Anderson, included the inventor of a model of a cow’s reproductive tract. Sarah Baillie, of the Royal Veterinary College, won the Most Innovative Teacher award for her invention of the “Haptic Cow”, a lifelike simulator that students can use to practise internal examinations.

The Serendipity Award, celebrating the unexpected outcomes of research, went to organic chemistry tutor Mark Moloney, of St Peter’s College, Oxford. While researching how penicillin is made, he discovered that a similar process could be used to encourage dye migration in plastics.

The night’s other winners included Queen’s University Belfast, which won the Entrepreneurial University award. Spin-off companies established by Queen’s academics had a combined turnover of £102 million in 2009.

The contribution of Lancaster University to one of the biggest challenges facing humankind – feeding seven billion people against a background of climate change – helped it to win the Research Project of the Year award. A team of plant biologists at the university identified a chemical signal that roots in drying soil send to the shoots, helping the plant cope with drought.

Glasgow Caledonian University scooped the prize for Widening Participation Initiative of the Year: the university’s outreach programmes extend to children as young as three.

Queen Mary, University of London won the Most Improved Student Experience award, Durham University clinched the Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers prize, and the University of York took the Outstanding Contribution to Leadership Development prize.

The inaugural Lord Dearing Lifetime Achievement award went to Sir David Watson, professor of higher education management at the Institute of Education, University of London.

Readers' comments (1)

  • I am a former masters graduate of the University and a native of Middlesbrough (see, to all those have a go at the town - at least learn to spell its name properly if you are going to be insulting about it). As such, I am quite pleased that the university has come out on top in the awards this year. It has certainly lashed out the cash on new development and build. We should, however, be aware that most awards of this nature are fairly arbitrary at the best of times (my current institution was nominated 2 years ago, for example, and very few of us outside our marketing department could understand why).

    I have friends who are both current and former members staff and, while they do talk favourably about the generally very friendly atmosphere and the people at the top of the instittion (the VC in particular), they're also critical about the quality of management further down the chain and the frankly unrealistic workloads being demanded of them. I applied for a job there myself a couple of years back and reckon, in spite of being on the sharp end of some spectacularly and demonstrably clueless management (long story, too boring to recount here), that I had a lucky escape when I didn't get it.

    Like most HEI's in its (and miy own) part of the sector, the drive is towards recruitment and the issue of retention and quality is rather less concentrated upon. There are able students and good teaching, but as all but those at the rarefified heights are seeing, the tail is getting longer each year. Welcome to the era of the comprehensive university. Teesside is just one example.

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