Educate North Awards & Conference 2017: The Winners and Review

David Prior's picture
by David Prior

More than 250 academics, students, executives and business people from across the North and the UK filled The Hilton Hotel in Manchester for the third Educate North Awards, a unique event that celebrated the continued growth and success of the knowledge sector in the region - jump straight to the winners here.

Delivered in association with The Telegraph Media Group, the 2017 awards brought together leading vice-chancellors, principals from the FE and Sixth Form sectors as well as some of the most talented staff in the North's higher and further education institutions.

Educate North founder and awards host Rob McLoughlin

It was once again hosted by the initiative's founder, Rob McLoughlin, in partnership with Prolific North and events company Don't Panic.

As with the two previous years, the awards were preceded by a special conference; this year focused on Brexit and how leadership within the knowledge sector is so keenly needed now more than ever.

The audience heard Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor of The University of Leicester, call upon government to "stop shooting the sector in the foot" and recognise that UK Higher Education is a "fantastic brand" which is being prevented from realising its potential internationally because of a "lack of joined-up thinking" from the variety of Whitehall Departments which have a hand in the sector. He said they are preventing "a co-ordinated strategy across Government".

Phil Woolas (second from left) spoke at the conference

Professor Jo Purves, of The University of Salford said the Treasury wanted the sector to make a £30bn contribution to the economy but this was impossible with current visa restrictions on foreign students.

David Kurten MLA, UKIP's spokesman on Education, described Brexit as a "great opportunity" to create British jobs for British workers, calling for a return to Polytechnics and more vocational training. He said it had been a mistake for Labour to push for 50% of students to go into Higher Education.

Phil Woolas, Labour's last Immigration Minister, called upon the Prime Minister and Brexit negotiators to change the definition of immigration so students do not count, and on negotiators to ensure that student travel rights across the EU continue under the Article 50 agreement.

The Conference was overseen by Professor Sir Cary Cooper CBE, from the Alliance Manchester Business School and one of the UK’s leading specialists in management psychology, supported by Professor Phil Harris of The University of Chester and Nik Miller, a former executive at The University of York and now part of The Bridge Group.

Sir Cary Cooper was honoured at the event

Sir Cary was also honoured with a surprise Lifetime Achievement Award on the eve of his birthday. He was described as an exceptional academic, communicator and ambassador for the sector with more than 100 books to his name.

As well as some highly stimulating keynote speeches and panel discussions, the afternoon also saw the return of the University Entrepreneurs Challenge, developed with David Taylor, the former 'Flying Start' TV Judge and now chairman of the executive board at The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). It was hosted by broadcaster and writer, Jim Hancock, and directed by former TV producer Alison Tarpey-Black.

Six companies from across the North - all supported by leading universities - fought it out for cash prizes in front of four experienced judges which included Dean Paton of Big Heritage and the winner of last year's competition, Dr Martin Henery of The Alliance Manchester Business School, Jenny Stewart, CEO of The Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce, and Phil Hodari of Crystalised, one of the sponsors.

Emma Woollard picks up the UEC grant for her startup The Language Guys

The Entrepreneurs Challenge is sponsored alongside the conference by UCLan, The University of Manchester's Intellectual Property Division (UMIP), and The Enterprise Centre at The Alliance Manchester Business School as well as Crystalised, which specialises in IT solutions for education. Due diligence was conducted by David Fleming's team at the US owned Financial Services company, Duff and Phelps.

The Challenge winners were announced at the awards dinner, with York-based SkillsForge named the overall winner, picking up a cheque for £5,000, with Liverpool University's Farm Urban (£2,000) and Kaizen Academy supported by The University of Lancaster (£1,000) taking the second and third prizes respectively.

And in a brand new initiative this year, the awards audience were given the chance to pick between four students or graduates with a 'bright' business idea. Each had a three-minute pitch to sell their business and earn a University Entrepreneurs Challenge grant of £1,000. It was a tough decision between four excellent pitches, but in the end the audience opted to award the grant to Emma Woollard's (University of Chester) innovative idea for foreign language tuition in bars and restaurants, The Language Guys. The prize money was handed over by Phil Hodari, sponsor, and the winner will receive personal mentoring from Professor Sue Smith (Innovation and Enterprise) from UCLAN.

Our thanks go out once again to John Kennedy CBE, Patron of the 2017 Awards and the expert panel of judges, detailed information on whom can be found here.

Entries for 2018 will open in the autumn.

Educate North Awards 2017

educate north logo 2016

The winners

Business/Industry Collaboration

Winner: Newcastle University and Northumbrian Water

Also nominated:

Liverpool John Moores University - Beverley Clifton Morris

Liverpool John Moores University - MSc Industrial Biotechnology teaching team and multiple biotechnology companies in the North West

LJMU’s Teacher Education Team and Liverpool World Centre Holding Difficult Conversations

UCLan - LaunchPad Leadership Development Programme

University of Hull and AAK

Vital North Partnership - Newcastle University and Seven Stories the National Centre for Childrens Books


Social Mobility Award

Oldham Sixth Form College - Closing the Communication Gap

Employer Engagement Award

Winner: University of Chester Faculty of Business & Management - Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship


Highly Commended: University of Cumbria

Also nominated:

LJMU - World of Work Employer Engagement Team

Salford City College - Career Ready Programme in Accounting



Environmental Industry Award

Winner: University of Chester Sustainability Unit - Energy and Carbon Lab

Highly Commended: Newcastle University

Also nominated:

University of Chester Hospitality Services - The Eco Box



External Relations Team of the Year

Winner: Salford City College

Highly Commended: University of Chester

Also nominated:

University of Central Lancashire


Innovation Award

Winner: SkillsForge

Also nominated:

Huddersfield New College - Innovation in the promotion of Equality Diversity and Inclusion

University of Central Lancashire - UCLan LaunchPad Leadership Development Programme

Liverpool Hope University - WORDBANK


Student Experience Award

Winner (Further Education): Interface at South Tyneside College

Winner (Higher Education): The Porters of the University of Chester

Also nominated:

Enterprise Student Experience

Liverpool John Moores University Library Services Library Standards

Newcastle University Students' Union - Inclusive Sport Offering

University of Hull - Health and Wellbeing Team

University of Hull - Middleton Hall


Research Team of the Year

Winner: Leeds Beckett University - DCM EPIC Trial Team


Lecturer / Academic of the Year

Winner: Peter Cowling - University of York

Also nominated:

Dr Tony Wall – University of Chester


International Transnational Award

Winner: NCUK

UK Leadership Award

Winner: Dr Lindsey Whiterod OBE - South Tyneside College

Highly Commended: Ian White, Domestic Bursar and Director of Hospitality and Residential Services - University of Chester

Also nominated:

Peter Cowling - University of York

Professor Mike Thomas - University of Central Lancashire


UK Apprenticeship Award

Winner: The Juice Academy

Students' Union of the Year

Winner: Leeds Trinity Students' Union

Also nominated:

Chester Students' Union

Newcastle University Students' Union

University of Cumbria Students' Union


Further Education College of the Year - Sponsored by Protocol

Winner: Salford City College

Also nominated:

South Tyneside College


Sixth Form College of the Year - Sponsored by Protocol

Winner: St John Rigby College

Also nominated:

Huddersfield New College



University of the Year

Winner: Liverpool John Moores University

Also nominated:

The University of Liverpool

Newcastle University


University Entrepreneurs Challenge

Winner: SkillsForge


Some more pictures from the night:


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