University lifts five higher education awards

Published: 7 July 2017

The University has taken the main prize at The Herald Higher Education Awards as well as coming top in four other categories.

The University has taken the main prize at The Herald Higher Education Awards as well as coming top in four other categories.

For the third year running, the University was presented with the overall Higher Education Institution of the Year award.Herald Higher Ed Awards 2017 - group

In addition, it won the following categories outright:

  • Enhancing Student Learning Award for the Closing the Feedback Loop project;
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community for its Chasing the Waves theatre show;
  • Campaign of the Year for The Simpsons Campaign;
  • Innovation Technology Excellence Award for the Vires project.

It also shared Research project of the Year with the University of the West of Scotland for "Nanokicking".

Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli congratulated all those who had entered the awards.

“The University of Glasgow is a leading international university in terms of its research, innovation and teaching and learning, but our engagement with the community of the West of Scotland is also immensely important to us. We are deeply honoured to be named the Higher Education Institution of the Year for the third year running – this award, along with the four categories we won, reflects our strengths across the board,” he said.

The Herald Higher Education Awards are delivered in association with the University of the West of Scotland, whose Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Craig Mahoney, said: “The quality of work being done within Scottish higher education is astounding and I would like to congratulate all institutions for their fantastic work and submissions.”

The Closing the Feedback Loop had its origins in the University’s recent “Leading Enhancement in Assessment and Feedback” (LEAF) initiative, which discovered that “our (extensive, and in our eyes very helpful) feedback was apparently not used by some students. One student stated that he often didn’t read feedback carefully: a poor grade made it too depressing, and a good grade made feedback redundant”.HeraldHigherEd awards: Closing the Feedback Loop

“To combat this issue and enable students to benefit from their feedback, over the past few years we developed and assessed the use of written reflections and grade withholding as tools to enhance student learning. Furthermore, since providing feedback in different formats may benefit some students, we have also trialled oral recorded feedback as an alternative method.”

The award was collected by Dr Leah Marks, Lecturer in Medicine, and Professor Edward Tobias, Professor in Genetic Medicine.

Winner of the “Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community Award” was ‘Chasing the Waves’ - a unique theatre project that connected communities with the inspiring research into Gravitational Waves which included a team from Glasgow. A diverse team of collaborators led the project: Glasgow Science Festival (GSF), University of Glasgow scientists, writers, actors and musicians.

By employing an innovative delivery style for science-engagement – musical theatre – the project sparked an interest in science among new audiences. The entertaining but enlightening show blended comedy and music, making complex research accessible. Quirky highlights included a ‘LIGO’ dance, black-hole doughnut analogies and even 1970s disco. The award was collected by Tom Deas Zara Gladman, of the Life Sciences Public Engagement Unit.

The Simpsons Campaign, which won Campaign of the Year, was run by the Centre for Open Studies in a bid to increase the number of students studying philosophy and engage with a younger age-group. A suite of popular philosophy courses was developed, including: D’Oh! The Simpsons introduce philosophy; Star Wars and philosophy: destiny, justice and the metaphysics of the force; and Game of Thrones and philosophy: politics, power, and war.Herald higher Ed Awards, Simpsons Campaign

Within days of going live, the campaign was seen on the BBC News homepage, TIME, The Hollywood Reporter, The Washington Post and other high profile media, it trended twice on Twitter and made it into Google’s Hot Trends.

The campaign reached over 20 countries with virtually no international spend, including America, China, France, Qatar, Chile and Indonesia, to name a few.

The target of “engaging with a younger age group” was reached: evidenced by a substantial increase in 16-30 year-olds (58% average across philosophy); as was “increasing enrolments in philosophy”: The Simpsons and philosophy short courses contributed to a rise in enrolments over and above what was expected, going from 142 enrolments in 2015-16 to 602 enrolments in 2016-17.

The Innovation Technology Excellence Award was won by the ViRES (Virtual Reality Episode of Seizure) project which looks at utilizing a virtual reality video to teach students about taking a history from patients who are experiencing an episode of Loss of Consciousness (LoC).Herald Higher Ed Innovation Technology Excellence award 

Jane Gaunt, a filmmaker who has experience of neurological events after a severe brain injury, was funded by UCB (a pharmaceutical company) to make a short virtual reality video portraying her experience of her own events.

The VR video is played through a proprietary smartphone set in a Virtual Reality headset. It gives the viewer a ‘real time’ experience of the sights, sounds, and neurological difficulties arising as the event takes hold.

UCB loaned the smartphones and headsets for the duration of the ViRES learning sessions. The ViRES project relied on the perspective of a person experiencing a LoC but differed in that it also utilised the medical input surrounding the event; the subsequent experience of questioning (or being questioned) by a senior medical student.

Research project of the year was won jointly by biologists from the Centre for Cell Engineering, at the University of Glasgow, and gravity wave physicists from the University of the West of Scotland, who are collaborating on Nanokicking.

Currently undergoing research trials at the University of Glasgow, Nanokicking uses nanovibrations which create new bone cells by turning on switches within stromal cells in the laboratory so new bone cells can grow.

Bone is the second most transplanted tissue behind blood, but there are major challenges in the supply of bone graft for clinical procedures. This research has focused on developing a new bioreactor system to meet this demand: this unique system converts adult stem cells into osteoblasts (bone building cells) using a method which is cheap, scalable and free of chemical induction factors that can potentially have harmful side effects within the body.

Instead the researchers mechanically stimulate cells using extremely precise nanoscale vibration. This is an entirely new discovery within tissue engineering, which has been enabled through technology typically found in gravitational wave research. In addition, they have engaged with surgeons and the Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service (SNBTS), which will enable this novel bone graft technology to be tested on a person within the next three years.

The research is led by Professor Stuart Reid at UWS and Professor Matthew Dalby at the University of Glasgow.


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First published: 7 July 2017

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