THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - Chris Haver­gal

The Univer­sity of Es­sex’s re­newed com­mit­ment to liv­ing up to the rad­i­cal val­ues of its foun­da­tion se­cured it the ti­tle of Univer­sity of the Year at the Times Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Awards 2018.

Judges praised Es­sex as “a univer­sity that is putting peo­ple first”, high­light­ing the in­sti­tu­tion’s de­ci­sive move to elim­i­nate the gen­der pay gap for pro­fes­so­rial staff by mov­ing women up three spe­cially cre­ated pay lev­els.

“The gen­der pay gap ex­ists ev­ery­where, but this univer­sity said what no one else dared to say: ‘There is an easy way to get rid of the pay gap – spend the money nec­es­sary to get rid of it. And do it now,’” said one mem­ber of the panel.

Es­sex also drew on what it de­scribed as the “re­bel­lious” her­itage of its 1960s foun­da­tion when it de­cided to move grad­u­ate teach­ing as­sis­tants on to staff con­tracts, en­sured that it paid all staff more than the Liv­ing Wage Foun­da­tion’s liv­ing wage, and em­braced a “sys­tem­atic” ap­proach to de­ca­su­al­is­ing the work­force.

The awards were pre­sented at a cer­e­mony hosted by the co­me­dian Sandi Toksvig (in­set, be­low) at Lon­don’s Grosvenor House Ho­tel. They recog­nise UK uni­ver­si­ties and their staff for ex­cep­tional teach­ing, re­search, stu­dent sup­port, en­trepreneur­ship, col­lab­o­ra­tions and out­reach.

John Gill, THE’s edi­tor, said that this year’s win­ners were an “in­spi­ra­tion” to the UK sec­tor.

“The judges of the THE Awards 2018 found short­lists packed with cre­ativ­ity, bold think­ing and ac­tion. In­deed, they re­ported that this year’s en­tries were the strong­est that they could re­mem­ber,” Mr Gill said.

The Lord Dear­ing Life­time Achieve­ment Award went to Baroness Warnock (in­set, left), the moral philoso­pher who was mistress of Gir­ton Col­lege, Cam­bridge be­tween 1984 and 1991 and chaired the in­quiry which led, in 1990, to the pass­ing of leg­is­la­tion reg­u­lat­ing in vitro fer­til­i­sa­tion and re­search us­ing hu­man em­bryos. The ci­ta­tion quotes Lau­rie Tay­lor, the so­ci­ol­o­gist and broad­caster, as stat­ing of Baroness Warnock that “no one of our gen­er­a­tion has bet­ter claim to the ti­tle ‘pub­lic in­tel­lec­tual’”.

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