SUNRISE announced International Collaboration of the Year in the sixteenth annual THE Awards

Swansea University in collaboration with international and UK institutions has lifted the International Collaboration of the Year trophy at the sixteenth annual THE Awards.

The THE Awards – widely referred to as the ‘Oscars of higher education’ – are the biggest celebration in the UK HE calendar, attracting hundreds of entries from individuals, teams and institutions from all corners of the country. 2020’s ceremony was of course virtual, but still over a thousand people logged in to hear this year’s winners announced.  

It should be noted that this THE Awards entry window opened just as the Covid lockdown commenced, and that they focus on activity during the 2018-19 academic year.    

An initiative aimed at expanding access to electricity in rural India using third-generation solar technology was the winning entry in this category.

SUNRISE – the Strategic University Network to Revolutionise Indian Solar Energy – united leading solar research teams from the UK and the Global South to demonstrate more affordable solar technologies in Indian villages.

The network, led by Swansea University, initially focused on engineering and physical science but expanded to include social science academics from the UK and India to engage more effectively with local communities. The project even invited a theatre company to hold a workshop to train scientists in arts-based community-engagement methods.

The number of institutions involved grew as well. The initial collaboration was between five UK and five Indian universities and several businesses, but it now includes universities in Mexico, Kazakhstan and South Africa.

As a result of the initiative, the Indian Institute of Science, one of the key partners, developed and installed a solar-powered energy storage system in a village school. The set-up will provide classrooms and computer labs with affordable, reliable and sustainable energy.

The SUNRISE network has also broadened the global reach of participants’ research and has enabled scholars and staff to develop new skills though training and workshops.

The judges described the SUNRISE network as “an outstanding and innovative collaboration. Involving engineering, the physical sciences, art, drama and social policy, it is having a significant impact on capacity development, skills and innovation and is creating new ways of installing affordable and sustainable electricity.”

THE editor, John Gill, said:
“In an extraordinary year, the opportunity to sit down with the THE Awards judges – remotely, of course – and immerse oneself in the stories behind our shortlisted entries was more rewarding than ever.
Because these awards recognise achievements in the 2018-19 academic year, we are dealing with the world as it was pre-pandemic, but the brilliance of our researchers, the exceptional teaching and the extraordinary ingenuity shown by administrative staff, all on display in this year’s shortlists, will be critical for both universities and the country in the period ahead.

In some ways, picking out examples of individual achievement seems at odds with the collective effort that has been so vital during the difficult months this year, but the THE Awards have been celebrating the UK sector in this way for 16 years, so a pandemic wasn’t going to stop us.
Congratulations to an inspirational group of winners, and indeed to everyone shortlisted.”

The full list of this year’s winners is below, and profiles of their winning entries can be viewed here.

Business School of the Year
Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University

International Collaboration of the Year
Swansea University, in collaboration with UK and international partners

Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year
University of the West of Scotland

Most Innovative Teacher of the Year
Judith Francois, Kingston University

Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
University of Worcester

Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community
University of Manchester

Outstanding Entrepreneurial University
Aston University

Outstanding Estates Strategy
University of Birmingham

Outstanding Library Team
University of Edinburgh

Outstanding Marketing/Communications Team
Staffordshire University

Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year
Tara Moore, Ulster University

Outstanding Support for Students
Nottingham Trent University

Outstanding Technician of the Year
John Waters, University of Liverpool

Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Royal Holloway, University of London

Research Project of the Year: STEM
Heriot-Watt University

Technological or Digital Innovation of the Year
University of Exeter

THE DataPoints Merit Award
University of Surrey

THE Outstanding Achievement Award
Admissions teams, UK higher education

University of the Year   
University of Glasgow

Widening Participation or Outreach Initiative of the Year
Royal Northern College of Music

You will find more on the THE Awards website , and further coverage of this year’s awards at Times Higher Education.

For additional information, please contact Megan Horgan at