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Lecturing staff at the University of the Highlands and Islands have been recognised for their teaching excellence with two national awards.
Lois Gray, a lecturer and academic lead developer for engineering based at North Highland College UHI, has been named as a national teaching fellow, and the university’s applied music team has won a collaborative award for teaching excellence. Both awards are manged by Advance HE, a charity which works with institutions across the world to improve higher education for staff, students and society.
Started in 2000, the national teaching fellowship scheme celebrates individuals who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes and the teaching profession in higher education.
Lois Gray, from Castletown, on the Isle of Man, is one of 55 academics across the UK to become a fellow this year. Lois is a chartered engineer who has been teaching at the university for more than 15 years and is a passionate advocate for women in engineering.
The collaborative award for teaching excellence recognises collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning. Introduced in 2016, the scheme highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education. The team behind the university’s BA (Hons) applied music degree, which includes staff from Lews Castle College UHI and West Highland College UHI, is one of only 14 teams across the UK which has received the award this year. The innovative course is designed and delivered by professional musicians, educators and industry experts and covers traditional, Celtic, pop, jazz, classical and rock music.
Professor Todd Walker, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands, said: ‘I am delighted that Lois and the applied music team have been recognised in these prestigious national awards. This is the first year we have entered, thanks to the coordination and support of our Learning and Teaching Academy, and we’ve been told it is exceptional to have been successful in both categories. The awards are held in high regard in the sector and demonstrate our commitment to excellence in learning and teaching. It’s fantastic to be commended for the impact our colleagues are having on our students.’
Lois said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to receive this national teaching fellowship award. With teaching being such a fulfilling occupation, I feel gratified to find that the work I do naturally to prompt my hard-working students to give their best is worthy of such a prestigious award. I couldn’t have achieved this without the support of my colleagues who have embraced my sometimes rather speculative ideas and strived to make my programmes as inclusive, attractive and rewarding as possible. This award will allow me to share my ideals and scaffold my aims to provide a new work-related degree for those who deserve, but may have previously lacked opportunity, thus preparing the next generation of engineers for the fourth industrial revolution.’
Anna-Wendy Stevenson, programme leader for the university’s BA (Hons) applied music degree, said: ‘Collaboration is central to all our lives – as educators and members of society – and is a core skill within our subject area of music. It is wonderful to celebrate our work with the prestigious collaborative award for teaching excellence and have our team recognised for their passion in developing and connecting the many communities we serve through higher education.’
Alison Johns, chief executive of Advance HE, added: ‘I am delighted to congratulate the 2021 NTFS and CATE awardees on their achievements. This year marks the 1000th national teaching fellowship award. Over the years, each and every NTF has made an impact on the sector – both on the students they teach and on their fellow teaching staff who look to them for inspiration and guidance.
‘It’s also very gratifying to see the quality of teamwork represented this year – the CATE awards really have become part of the sector landscape. Teamwork has been especially important in the past year with the challenges for teaching and learning as a result of social distancing and in the autumn we will publish case studies highlighting this excellent collaborative effort. I am sure that institutions will value these examples as we start to return to the best of in-person teaching complemented by excellent online delivery.
‘Well done to each and every awardee on this outstanding achievement.’