THE (Times Higher Education) Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs)

January 11, 2018

March 31, 2018

Awards Description

Categories & criteria

Unless otherwise stated in the specific subject criteria, the judges will be looking for outstanding examples of best practice during the 2016-17 academic year.

(We will accept submissions based on projects, initiatives or endeavours that commenced prior to the 2016-17 academic year, provided that core achievements have taken place during this main period of focus. We will also accept any evidence that has come to light after the close of the 2016-17 academic year if this further underlines success.)

Please note that these awards recognise leadership and management that is distributed across all levels of an institution, so where applicable judges will be looking for evidence of this in relation to each of the categories.


THE DataPoints Merit Award   

This category does not require submissions. The shortlist will be compiled after analysis of the data collected from UK universities by Times Higher Education  as part of our World University Rankings.


Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year

This award recognises the innovative use of digital technology to improve any function at a university, be that at institutional, departmental or faculty level. Entries may therefore focus on leadership, management, administration, teaching or research.

Judges will be looking for initiatives that have delivered efficiencies and enhanced productivity, so submissions should ideally demonstrate savings in terms of cost or time as well as improved performance. Providing that impact can be demonstrated, judges will consider projects that aren’t yet concluded.

  • Show how the initiative addresses a specific institutional need or challenge.
  • Describe why the initiative is innovative, and outline the technologies and approaches used.
  • Demonstrate the effective use of leading-edge practices, and how your approach embraces digital technology to implement improvements.
  • Describe how those involved have overcome cultural, financial and other barriers to succeed.
  • Is the innovation scalable, and could it be replicated elsewhere in the sector?

Outstanding Library Team

This award recognises outstanding work in library and information-services departments.
  • Explain how your team has personalised the delivery and support of library space, services and content provision.
  • Describe how the team developed the library’s digital environment to benefit users.
  • Detail how your team exploited physical and virtual space to provide a complementary, blended service.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.
If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes.
Judges will look for evidence of collaboration with other administrative and academic departments that enhanced your team’s delivery, and for examples of the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.

Excellence in Registry Services

This award recognises outstanding work in central registry services. Excellence may be in one or more of the following areas: student admissions, assessment and conferment; student fees; student record systems; curriculum record management; timetabling; quality assurance; educational collaboration; academic audit and assessment; research administration; student complaints and discipline.
Submissions should:
  • clearly demonstrate how a team contributed to the improved running of the institution in their area of activity.
  • outline the service delivery problems or opportunities identified, and explain how these were addressed.
  • provide evidence of successful outcomes, for example via key performance indicators or stakeholder feedback.
  • explain how the service transformation supports strategic, operational or compliance needs in the institution.
  • describe how your work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.
If applicable, provide evidence of the effective use of innovative practices from other sectors.

Outstanding Student Services Team 

This award recognises outstanding work in student services teams. If you have delivered a great service in this area, detail what you have done, what improvements it has led to and, in particular, how students have benefited.
  • Explain how your team used feedback and evaluations from staff, students and other sources to improve its performance and to evaluate the outcome of any changes.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.
Submissions could include details of a successful new collaboration with another department, professional service or students’ union, or with an external partner such as another higher education institution, the NHS or other agency. They could also include such things as a recent reorganisation of student services or the implementation of new IT systems that have improved service or efficiency.
If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to its success.

Outstanding Leadership and Management Team

This award will go to the institution that demonstrates the greatest breadth and depth of leadership and management skills – tell us what makes your senior team special. Although these awards focus on the 2016-17 academic year, if your entry is based on long-term initiatives that have now come to fruition, we will accept information dating from the outset.
  • Outline all the areas in which you have excelled and ensure that you provide benchmark data to show exactly how your institution has delivered across the board.
  • Describe the impact of your work.
  • Provide examples of creative management across the institution, ways in which you have anticipated change in the higher education system and environment in which you operate, and any relevant leadership in your dealings with external stakeholders.
  • Describe how your work improves on standard practice in the sector.
  • This award will be given to the outstanding team at an institutional rather than departmental level.

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team

This award recognises outstanding work in marketing and communications departments.
  • Show how your communications strategy and initiatives have delivered quantifiable changes in the public perception of your institution or have reshaped behaviour within it.
  • Supply examples of shared collaborative ownership of marketing and communications initiatives across your institution’s leadership and management teams and highlight the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.
  • Outline your objectives for the 2016-17 academic year, and explain how your team met or exceeded them.
  • Describe how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.
If your entry is based on a particular initiative or initiatives, explain how your team contributed to the outcomes.

Outstanding Estates Strategy

This award recognises outstanding work in estates departments. We are looking to reward the institution with the best story to tell about the academic year 2016-17, although given the timeframe of many estates projects, information about key achievements in property and facilities management over the past three academic years may be included.
  • Tell us about the construction of innovative new buildings, the redevelopment and renovation of existing buildings, or the successful implementation of a new estates strategy.
  • How are you developing and encouraging sustainable solutions across your estate?
  • How have you worked to reduce estates costs, and what savings have you delivered? For example, have you looked at sharing the management of your facilities with other educational establishments or implemented new structures or contract arrangements in commercial partnerships?
  • Show how you have engaged the wider institutional leadership in estates issues, and provide examples of the adoption of solutions and practice from other sectors.
  • Outline how your team’s work improves on standard practice in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

International Strategy of the Year 

This award will be given to an institution for outstanding success in building institutional partnerships, overseas operations and a strategic approach to international staff and student recruitment during the 2016-17 academic year. The judges will be looking for evidence of success on financial measures, but most important will be the way in which the strategy has enhanced the profile of the university and delivered on its ambitions.
  • Explain how your institution’s overseas operations have increased international capacity and cultivated institutional partnerships.
  • What impact has your international activity had on your global profile and financial position?
  • Show evidence of your strategy’s effectiveness. This may include how you established your institution’s brand; engaged with overseas partners; dealt with changes in government policy or the wider environment in which you operate; employed technology and maintained effective communications with staff overseas; and learned from other sectors.
Provide evidence of shared collaborative ownership of initiatives across your institution’s leadership and management teams.

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year    

This award recognises the most innovative and original initiative in knowledge exchange or transfer in the academic year 2016-17.
  • Outline the initiative’s origins and explain what makes it new and pioneering.
  • Describe its objectives and detail how these have been met or exceeded.
  • Explain how your initiative has had a transformative effect on both your institution and your non-academic partner or partners, and demonstrate how it addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.
Judges will look for effective collaboration between academics, administrators and business partners and for the effective use of leading-edge practices from other sectors.

Workplace of the Year    

This award will recognise an institution or division showing exceptional commitment to creating a positive environment for both incoming and existing staff.
  • How have you attracted, engaged and supported new staff?
  • What processes are in place for succession planning and talent management of existing staff – both academic and those in the professional services?
  • What staff-focused initiatives have been implemented to support the institution’s strategic plan?
  • How have equality, diversity and inclusion issues been addressed across the institution’s workforce?
  • Have methods and approaches from other sectors been implemented to make your institution a desirable place to work? If so, outline what they are and why they have been successful.
*Please note that this award recognises excellence both within and beyond an institution’s HR remit.

Outstanding Financial Performance     

This award recognises outstanding work in finance departments, but submissions should also highlight how the procurement team’s policies released savings to reinvest in the institution. Submissions should include a brief overview of your institution’s financial strategy and show how the team contributed to its development and implementation. Judges will look for evidence of the overall impact on the institution and its sustainability.
  • Highlight substantial achievements such as supporting a cost reduction programme or developing additional income streams, efficient budgeting processes or the smart implementation of relevant innovative practices from other sectors delivering clear benefits.
  • Demonstrate how the finance department successfully communicates financial initiatives and works with others in your institution to foster a sense of shared ownership across non-finance leaders and managers.
  • Describe how the team’s work could contribute to the improvement of standard practices in the sector and addresses new and emerging challenges and opportunities.

Outstanding Strategic Planning Team

 This award will recognise exceptional performance from a team, or individual, that has made a significant and demonstrable impact on strategic change across the university. UK higher education is going through a period of rapid change, both in terms of the policy framework, and the national and global environment, presenting multiple challenges.
  • The judges will look for clear contributions to strategic planning, such as improvements to the evidence base supporting institutional decision-making, the development and implementation of change management programmes, or improvements to institution-wide operational processes in support of defined strategic objectives.
  • If there is evidence of a team or individual’s success in a particular project or area of activity, then this can take the lead in submissions, but it is vital that you also show how your work has influenced decision-making at a strategic level.
  • Explain the way in which clearly identified challenges have and will be met as a result of your work, and demonstrate that impact in a measurable way.

Outstanding Employer Engagement Strategy

The award recognises a strategic and innovative approach to delivering employers’ workforce development needs.
Judges will look for:
  • new ways of working with employers.
  • evidence of high-quality, flexible provision, responsive to employer and employee needs.
  • evidence of positive impact on businesses (proven and future impact permitted).
Entries should not be focused solely on employability (including student placements).

Teaching and Learning Strategy of the Year

This award recognises a teaching and learning strategy that is distinctive and innovative, has enhanced both the student and staff experience, and reflects an institution’s core values.
  • What were the main features of your institution’s teaching and learning strategy covering the 2016-17 academic year, and how were they implemented?
  • How have you embraced and supported the use of new technology to facilitate innovative teaching?
  • How have you created an environment in which teaching is highly valued across the university?
  • How do you recognise and reward innovative teaching?
  • Outline how you have enhanced the learning experience for all students – undergraduate and postgraduate – and helped them to maximise their potential.
  • Explain how your strategy addresses the key aspects of teaching performance that are measured in the government’s Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework.
The judges will also be looking for evidence of how this strategy successfully dovetailed with others as part of the university’s overall strategic plan.

Entry guidelines

Our awards are simple to enter and are open to anyone involved in UK higher education. The information below will help you to prepare your entry. 

When the entry system opens on the 11 January 2018, please click ENTER NOW at the top of the page, and select the category you wish to enter.

 

    • Entry is free
    • Unless otherwise stated in the individual subject criteria, the judges will be looking for outstanding examples of best practice during the 2016-17 academic year.We will accept submissions based on projects, initiatives or endeavours that commenced prior to the 2016-17 academic year, provided that core achievements have taken place during this main period of focus. We will also accept any evidence that has come to light after the close of the 2016-17 academic year if this further underlines success.
    • You must register with us in order to enter our awards. Once registered, your details will be retained on the site whenever you are logged in, and consequently you will not be required to re-enter them when making additional submissions. (Your details will not be shared with any third party, and will only be used by us for awards-related communications.)
    • When logged in, entries can be drafted and redrafted as many times as you wish until you decide to press the ‘SUBMIT’ button. Just click ‘SAVE’ any time you wish to exit an incomplete submission.
    • Please note that these awards recognise leadership and management that is distributed across all levels of an institution, so where applicable judges will be looking for evidence of this in relation to each of the categories.
    • The judges will be looking for a good story, well told, and backed up with solid metrics where applicable.
    • All entries must be submitted online via www.thelmawards.co.uk 
    • Submissions should consist of up to 500 words of text specifically addressing the key criteria set out for the relevant category. You may also attach up to three sets of supporting materials, which should be no more than six sides of A4 in total.  Please see below for more details on the supporting material requirements.
  • If you wish to submit tables, they should be included within your supporting materials rather than the submission text field.
  • You may enter as many categories as you wish, but you must complete a separate submission for each one.
  • You may also submit more than one entry per category where projects or initiatives are distinctive and unrelated. Otherwise we advise you to combine the best elements of each in a stronger single entry.
  • No submission should be entered in more than one category. Please choose the most appropriate single category for your entry. If you are unsure which category to choose, please contact david.suter@timeshighereducation.com
  • Our panel of judges occasionally suggest that some promising submissions were based on projects or initiatives still relatively early in their cycle, and that given a further 12 months their impact and success may be far more evident. We encourage repeat submissions, adapted to include more recent information outlining significant progress during the additional 12-month period.
  • You may enter a project that has been undertaken in collaboration with an external public or private partner, but the award will be given to the winning higher education institution.
  • If your entry relates to an initiative or project carried out in collaboration with other institutions, the submission should come from the lead institution. In such cases, please enter “<lead institution> in collaboration with <name> University” or, in cases where the institutions are working under a collective banner, “<institution name> on behalf of <project name>”, in the ‘Institution ‘field on the entry form, and we will credit all if shortlisted.(Please note that these awards primarily recognise achievements in UK institutions, but we will acknowledge the importance of overseas partners in collaborative projects. In such cases the entry should still be submitted by the UK institution.)
  • If there is no lead institution in a collaborative project, to avoid multiple entries focusing on the same project, please agree who will make the submission on behalf of the partnership, and enter “<institution a> and <institution b> in the ‘Institution’ field.
  • If your entry relates to a collaboration with an external organisation who you would like to credit, please enter “<institution>, in collaboration with <organisation name> in the ‘Institution’ field on the entry form.
  • Entries can be completed by institutions themselves or their suppliers (architects, PR companies, etc.). If you are entering on behalf of an institution, please make sure it is happy for you to do so.
  • If you are an individual considering submitting an entry, we ask that you let senior management and your university’s marketing team know that you are doing so, although no formal letter of approval is required by THE.
  • The shortlist will be published on Thursday 12 April 2018, with the winners being announced at a gala ceremony at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on Thursday 21 June 2018.

Supporting material


  • Documents should be in PDF or Word doc format.
  • Up to three sets of supporting documents may be submitted, but in total they should comprise no more than six sides of A4.
  • Supporting materials may include photographs, tables, graphs, documents containing statistics, testimonials, supporting research, evaluation or inspection reports, promotional materials and media coverage (PowerPoint and video files will not be accepted; however, you may submit screen shots).

Any information submitted outside these guidelines will not be considered as part of the submission. 

Preparing your entry


  • When preparing your submission please review the specific category criteria carefully.
  • Ensure that your submission contains sufficient robust information. Please include relevant facts and figures where possible. Some categories may ask you to include details of a particular initiative or initiatives; please select those that best promote your expertise.
  • As well as completing the ‘Institution name’ field on the application form, where applicable please ensure that you also enter the specific team or project in the Nominee field.

On receipt of a shortlisting email, please cross-check the ID number with the one on your original acknowledgement of receipt, particularly if your institution has submitted more than one entry in any single category.

Please note that in most cases we will use the institution name rather than that of the project or team in our coverage, although on the awards evening we may refer more specifically to the shortlisted project or team.

The contact details you provide in your entry form will be used throughout the awards process. If these details change after the form has been submitted, please send your new contact information by email to lindsey.fox@tesglobal.com  

Please also contact Lindsey if you have any general queries about our awards, or David Suter (david.suter@timeshighereducation.com) if you have any questions regarding eligibility, or require clarification on any of the category criteria or general content.

Contact Information

david.suter@timeshighereducation.com

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