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Six education initiatives from across the University were recognised with prizes at the 2022 Vice-Chancellor’s Education Awards, which took place at Worcester College on 29 September, including the University-wide Opportunity Oxford programme.

Vice-Chancellor's Education Awards logo

These biennial Education Awards celebrate and showcase excellence in education across the collegiate University, recognising activity that has a clear and demonstrable impact on the educational experience of our students.

Winning initiatives

This year’s winners were:

  • Live-streamed, multisensory, object-based online workshops for schools, delivered by The Ashmolean schools learning officers, during and after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Making virtual a reality: achieving educational excellence through the use of virtual reality in medical education
  • Opportunity Oxford: a cross-divisional approach to supporting students from underrepresented or disadvantaged backgrounds to thrive at Oxford
  • The ‘Lab Med app’: a model for producing novel student-centric learning resources, developed for the Oxford Laboratory Medicine course
  • The Oxford Character Project: leadership development programmes for postgraduate students at Oxford
  • Working it out: A series of workshops to support first-year students in Biochemistry, through a collaborative problem-solving approach to teaching

Short videos on each of the award winners can be found on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website, highlighting how each project was developed, the collaborations that made them successful, and the impact they have had on students’ education so far.

Pro-Vice Chancellor Education, Professor Martin Williams said: “Congratulations to the winners of the Education Awards 2022, all who have shown a variety of educational innovation that benefits their learners. They are excellent examples of collaboration within Oxford and further afield. 

“The University is constantly innovating in education for the benefit of our students and the wider collegiate University, and these awards give us the chance to recognise this excellence.”  

Opportunity Oxford

Opportunity Oxford is a cross-divisional programme, involving departments across the University. In MPLS, its academic lead is Professor Conall Mac Niocaill, in the Department of Earth Sciences.

This winning initiative helps to prepare offer-holders from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds for the rigours of an Oxford degree, and supports their transition from secondary school or college to university. It offers insights into what student life is like at Oxford, and helps newly arrived students to develop high-level academic skills that will support them in their studies. Currently, about 200 students come to Oxford through the Opportunity Oxford route.

Commenting on the Opportunity Oxford award, MPLS Associate Head for Education, Professor Mike Bonsall, said: “It’s fantastic to see this recognition for colleagues involved in delivering this intensive bridging programme across MPLS departments. It makes such a difference in helping students to experience the best possible start to their Oxford careers, and it is something we are fully committed to supporting and developing.” 

Anonymised feedback quotes from recent participants in the programme within MPLS include: 

“Opportunity Oxford was the best experience I could have had before term starts. I've made friends from a similar background, I feel more confident about my abilities and managing the workload and I now am prepared to start Oxford!” 

“I found the tutorials an amazing way to reflect on work we had done and ask questions on certain topics that I was unsure about.” 

Shortlisted entrants

Projects shortlisted for this year’s VC’s Education Awards also included entries from the Department of Chemistry, and a Master’s course in Law and Computer Science.

The full shortlist was: 

  • A fully multidisciplinary, cross-divisional Master’s-level course in Law and Computer Science
  • COVID-19: catalyst for developing a varied and inclusive practical course in Chemistry
  • Design and delivery of interactive, hands-on courses on reproducible data analysis and visualisation for biologists in the Medical Sciences Division
  • Inspiring excellence in evidence-based health care: Using digital education to achieve a flexible and diverse learning environment
  • Pivoting online: collaborative design and delivery of FIT modern language courses at the Language Centre
  • Teaching genetics and molecular biology using a hybrid lab approach, in the Department of Biochemistry

Academics in the Departments of Computer Science and Law have worked together to design and run an innovative and fully interdisciplinary Master’s course in Law and Computer Science. During the course, students design and implement a new digital service or product with legal aspects. Commenting on this entry, the Centre for Teaching and Learning described it as ‘unique in its scope’. ‘This innovative course is a clear example of effective collaboration between departments and divisions’.

Meanwhile, the Department of Chemistry was also recognised on the shortlist for its online practicals involving simulations and instructional videos, designed to build learners’ confidence and strengthen key skills. There is evidence that these have successfully brought together a wide range of people from different backgrounds, and had an influence beyond Oxford.

Short videos outlining the success of each of these initiatives can also be found on the Centre for Teaching and Learning website.

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