University Alliance > University Alliance Awards

University Alliance Awards

The Awards, held online this evening, were a new feature of the UA’s Annual Summit this year. They were set up with 7 categories to recognise those individuals and teams that have demonstrated the behaviours and values that as a collective of Alliance universities we believe are most important.

Winners will receive a specially commissioned University Alliance medal made by Birmingham City University’s Jewellry School

Vanessa Wilson, CEO of UA and host of the awards ceremony, says all finalists truly represent the talent, work ethic and success found in the UK’s professional and technical universities.

“Huge congratulations to all the deserving winners for their outstanding efforts. Reading all the nominations was an incredible privilege and showed the breadth and depth of work and commitment across the Alliance membership to deliver for both students and staff alike.

“We received a large number of strong applications, and the tough choices we had to make to pick the winners reflects just how high the standards were.”

The full list of winners:

  • The Unity Award: The UWE Nightingale, UWE
  • The Braveheart Award: Emily Hughes (posthumously), Kingston University
  • The Professionals Award: The Doctoral College, Brighton University
  • The Innovation Award: Desktop Support & Security Team, USW
  • The Integrity Award: Lorraine Slater   , Brighton University
  • The Alliance Award: The Future Quest Team, UWE
  • The Star Award: Ali Bushnell, Coventry University

“More so now than ever before I believe we are all aware of the need to take time out to recognise those individuals and teams who go the extra mile and stay true to those values and behaviours we feel are important, particularly when demonstrated in challenging and adverse circumstances”, says Vanessa Wilson.

The 7 awards are based on a set of principles co-created by member Vice-Chancellors earlier in the year and ratified as part of the members’ meeting held as part of the Summit. Members were asked to nominate colleagues from across their institution for each of the awards and a judging panel made up of representatives selected from across the membership were asked to judge the finalists.




The award categories:

  1.  The Unity Award: recognising the key values and behaviours that have helped unite or support a group of people leading to a positive result or outcome
  2. The Braveheart Award: recognises individuals whose actions and behaviours convey a true sense of conviction to do the right thing often going above and beyond and deploying influence to achieve a positive outcome in potentially trying and challenging circumstances
  3. The Professionals Award: recognising a commitment to professionalism as well as positivity to deliver positive outcomes and results in challenging circumstances
  4. The Innovation Award: recognising a commitment to presenting solutions and innovations
  5. The Integrity Award: recognising integrity and a commitment to openness and honesty
  6. The Alliance Award: recognising a commitment to collaborative working
  7. The Star Award: recognising the values and behaviours that lead to a culture and environment that is consistently positive and rewarding for all involved even in the toughest times


More information on each of the winners is available below 

The Unity Award: The UWE Nightingale, UWE

The UWE Nightingales have come together from all parts of the university to support the NHS and Social Care Services across Bristol and the South West of England. From the Porters to the Professors; the Cleaners and Caters to the Vice-Chancellor and University Executive to the Professional and Technical Services. Together, with our NHS and Social Care Partners, Kier Construction and the British Army we have delivered the UWE Bristol Nightingale Hospital – a 300 bed fully ventilated Intensive Care Hospital. We have trained over 400 staff to deliver care within it, we have delivered PPE, constructed and manufactured over 300 Face Shields, 2000 litres of disinfectant and hand alcohol hand gel. We have achieved all of this over the Easter holidays and created a presentation and film of our journey. Well over 150 dedicated staff who have made UWE proud and given hope to clinicians and patients across the region.

The Braveheart Award: Emily Hughes (posthumously), Kingston University

For over 12 years, Emily’s work at Kingston University was driven by the inherent belief that anyone with the potential to benefit from higher education should be able to do so, regardless of their background or circumstances. With a particular interest in the barriers faced by care-experienced young people, Emily was instrumental in creating the exemplary and impactful KU Cares programme which provides comprehensive and tailored support for care leavers, young adult carers, estranged students, and forced migrants. Under Emily’s leadership, KU Cares has helped transform the lives of hundreds of young people from highly marginalised groups through supporting them to achieve their academic and career ambitions. Sadly, Emily passed away in April at the age of 35 following a long battle.

The Professionals Award: The Doctoral College, Brighton University

Doctoral College staff have forged a dynamic team effort dedicated to maintaining the department’s responsive service whilst adapting rapidly to a range of new measures to support PGRs. Key measures are six-month extensions to stipends and fee waivers for final year students, an initiative aimed at ensuring equitable treatment for funded and self-funded students. Further initiatives include a PGR resources fund; online workshops; enhanced counselling provision; a dedicated FAQ blog shared with the University Alliance; and monthly meetings with PGR reps, the outcomes of which were described by the Student Union’s Vice President Education as ‘a true testament to partnership working’. Academics and administrators have worked supportively and cooperatively to ensure coherent, professional communication and the effective implementation of the new measures. In early April, with many staff suddenly dealing with childcare and home-working, the Doctoral College were described by one student as ‘the best kind of wonderful right now’.

The Innovation Award: Desktop Support & Security Team, USW

Their quick thinking enabled us to tackle digital poverty head on and enable our students to continue with their studies straight away when lock down was imposed. Whilst this may not appear to be the most ground breaking imitative, the work to re-think and re-use USW equipment to enable ongoing access to learn, should be recognised.

Indeed the team demonstrated their commitment to our student and University core values by providing a solution which saw “old iMacs” being decommissioned from teaching labs, to be turned into “dumb terminals” students could use to remotely access on premise pc’s. iMac’s were a good solution as they came with built-in wi-fi, therefore minimising cost for users and a slick process delivered a quick turn-around time. This terminals were then offered to students  who had no alternative to collect, or after the loack-down date many were delivered to student homes using couriers.

This work demonstrates a termination to deliver needed resources whilst challenging to the status quo, a passion to look for solutions and tenacity to not give up.


The Integrity Award:      Lorraine Slater, Brighton University

Lorraine made a swift about-turn when lockdown occurred shortly before the Doctoral College’s annual research festival, an event she had been organising since December. Since then Lorraine has been wholly committed to supporting the doctoral community, becoming a steady anchor during difficult times. The honesty and integrity Lorraine has displayed are highly valued by the University and are matched by her unstinting perseverance and dedication. Lorraine has led on PGR COVID communications across multiple digital channels, and was quick to set up a dedicated blog which was shared with the University Alliance. Lorraine’s content provides not just information but reassurance and warmth. Lorraine has also worked with academics to establish numerous online workshops which offer skills training alongside valuable opportunities for students to connect. Lorraine has been instrumental in engendering trust and confidence in the Doctoral College and her work has generated messages of praise from students and staff alike.


The Alliance Award: The Future Quest Team, UWE

The Future Quest Team are a collaborative team across 2 universities, 2 FE colleges and a range of third sector organisations delivering a regional outreach programme as part of the Uni Connect programme. During the lockdown period the delivery team, led by UWE Bristol, have come together virtually to design an online programme for the first time. The 6-week programme supports learners in local schools to plan for their future. My Future Quest replaces a face to face activity plan delivered to thousands of secondary school learners in Bristol. The online and remote access programme goes further: supporting transition from primary to secondary. Working collaboratively the team have drawn on skills and experiences outside of current roles, kept each other positive and collaborated to draw on different points of view. The result is a project that is very well received by schools and will help us plan for next year.


The Star Award: Ali Bushnell, Coventry University


Ali works exceptionally hard in a stand-alone post keeping students informed and engaged through her Moodle posts as part of her role as Student Communications Officer, any time day or night she is letting students know what is going on.  She has an uncanny ability to take Corporate and Faculty student information and relay this as a peer and a friend.

Despite leave, personal setbacks and of course the recent challenge almost everyone has faced moving to online, she continues to work through and be a delight.  Senior managers are inundated with positive feedback, conversations and emails about her work, collaborations or just Ali.

She takes great joy in all her relationships with colleagues, students and forging new relationships, almost everyone in the university staff and student alike know her name.  Ali has this relentless drive to post positive and useful messages to students through Moodle. She is known as ‘Aunty Moodle’.