The University of York has been shortlisted in three categories in the prestigious Times Higher Education Awards 2011.
York, which was named University of the Year in last year’s THE awards ceremony, has been nominated in the Outstanding Engineering Research Team of the Year, Outstanding Support for Students and Entrepreneurial University of the Year categories.
The awards, now in their seventh year, represent a high profile opportunity to celebrate the excellence and achievements of UK higher education institutions.
Winners of awards in 18 categories will be announced at a gala dinner on 24 November at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The Entrepreneurial University award recognises institutions that have embedded entrepreneurial activity, so their environment and culture not only fosters enterprise thinking, but also delivers significant entrepreneurial impact at regional, national and international levels.
The University has supported many student entrepreneurs to establish their businesses alongside their studies
Dr Mark Mortimer
Dr Mark Mortimer, the University’s Director of Research and Enterprise, says, “For over ten years, the University of York has fostered entrepreneurship among its students and staff, hastening the transition of the old industrial economy of the city of York to one based on knowledge and enterprise.
“Working with the City Council, the University formed the UK’s first Science City initiative which has helped generate nearly 3,000 jobs and around 100 businesses. Our Science Park has also been highly successful in attracting and incubating companies.”
Through initiatives such as the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Enterprise (CETLE), the University has embedded entrepreneurship through the student experience. Over 70 per cent of academic departments now offer modules which present enterprise concepts within the framework of their discipline, and all students can access accredited training in enterprise skills through the University’s certificate of personal development, the York Award.
Dr Mortimer says, “The University has supported many student entrepreneurs to establish their businesses alongside their studies, offering incubator space and support to over 50 student start-ups. This has led to the formation and growth of York Entrepreneurs, a student society which has 1,400 members and which won the International Enterprise Educators Award in 2009 for Student Educators.
“This year the University has seized the opportunity to further integrate and strengthen these different strands of entrepreneurial activity with the opening of the Ron Cooke Hub, a £22 million enterprise building which emphasises interaction between business, community and academia.
“Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, it combines student and staff entrepreneurship with a gateway for regional businesses in a stimulating 24 hour environment. The Hub provides outstanding meeting and presentation facilities and houses boundary-crossing research groups, the CETLE’s Centre for Student Enterprise, purpose-built Corporate Training facilities and the Springboard micro-incubator.“
The University of York has developed an innovative service – the Open Door Team – to support students experiencing emotional or mental health difficulties.
Our approach is now being recognised as a beacon of good practice in the sector and the Open Door Team is regularly visited by other universities
This new evidence-based service model is radically different from traditional university counselling services in its approach, range and scope. The Outstanding Support for Students award recognises an institution which helps students gain the maximum benefit from their study.
York’s Director of Student Support Services Steve Page says, “Since introduction, use has risen significantly with over 1,000 students benefitting annually and student needs being handled quickly with no waiting lists. 99 per cent of student clients say it has had a positive impact on their life as a student.
“Our approach is now being recognised as a beacon of good practice in the sector and the Open Door Team is regularly visited by other universities.”
The model uses a single point of entry for assessment, guidance, treatment and support provided by a multidisciplinary team from Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Counselling, Psychotherapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
The key model characteristics include:
York’s Advanced Computer Architectures (ACA) group, part of the University’s Department of Computer Science, is one of six shortlisted research teams in this category.
AURA allows large, complex and unstructured data to be stored and searched
Professor Jim Austin
The award is designed to recognise a team whose innovative research has made or has the potential to make, a far-reaching impact on its field and to catch the public’s imagination.
The Advanced Computer Architectures group’s work is based on ideas of how the brain works. Led by Professor Jim Austin, the team has successfully developed a breakthrough technology – AURA – which mimics the brain’s ability to make sense of massive amounts of data.
Professor Austin says, “In basic terms, AURA allows large, complex and unstructured data to be stored and searched. Uniquely it allows textual, image and signal information to be analysed quickly, despite the inherent problems in ‘real’ data – that they are incomplete, badly described and large in quantity.
“The main use has been to facilitate ‘find one like it’ searching which looks for patterns in past data similar to those found in current data to spot current and likely future events that have happened before.”
The team has worked with Rolls-Royce on Aero Engines, where AURA was used to analyse patterns of unusual activities in engines, while teams using AURA in the Department for Transport have improved management of the road system.
Its methods have proved so successful that the team has set up a spin-off company, Cybula Ltd, to further develop the application of these ideas in areas including power generation, wind energy systems and medicine.