University is shortlisted for prestigious national teaching and entrepreneurial awards.

Posted on 25th September 2013

The University of Chester has been shortlisted for two awards in the ‘Oscars’ of the Higher Education world.

Now in its ninth year, the Times Higher Education Awards are a highlight of the academic calendar and a glittering celebration of the best of the sector.

Amongst the nominees who have made the shortlist is a University lecturer who encourages use of mobile phones in his lectures rather than discourages them, as well as the University itself, for its forward-thinking business focus.

Dr Neil Pickles (pictured below), a Senior Lecturer from the Biological Sciences Department, has been shortlisted for the ‘Most Innovative Teacher of the Year’ category, while the University’s has been shortlisted in the ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ category. Neil Pickles

Incorporating social media, mobile phones and other forms of new technology into his lectures, Dr Pickles uses a variety of approaches to engage with and enhance the student experience.

His Twitter feed provides links to science news and papers from taught sessions, which has proven to be very useful in engaging with current, former and future students from inside as well as outside the University. Other popular, innovative teaching approaches adopted by Dr Pickles include the use of You Tube videos, juggling objects to explain the electron transport chain, and using a variety of props to demonstrate different scientific processes.  He has also incorporated the use of mobile phones into his sessions enabling students to text questions, comments and submit votes to his presentation slides.

He said: “I am thrilled to be shortlisted for a THE Award. I try to make difficult topics accessible and use a variety of approaches to break down academic barriers and promote learning beyond the traditional classroom settings. Aside from innovation, showing enthusiasm and passion when teaching remain the most important factors.”

This is not the first time that Dr Pickles has been recognised for his innovative teaching techniques, as he was recently the recipient of the ‘Most Innovative Lecturer’ award in Chester Students’ Union’s student-led Above and Beyond (AAB) Awards, as well as the ‘Most Outstanding Personal Academic Tutor’ Award.

The University’s nomination for the ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ follows a number of initiatives adopted by the institution to help nurture entrepreneurship and develop enterprise in the region. 

A few of these initiatives include:


  • The University’s Riverside Innovation Centre- a highly visible and manifestation to the University’s commitment to entrepreneurship, in which office space is shared with the local authority economic development team, the Chamber of Commerce and UK Trade and Investment (UKTI);
  • Engagement with Further Education Colleges to raise entrepreneurial aspirations through extra-curricular activities;
  • Partnership through the High Sheriff’s Award for Enterprise;
  • The acquisition of the former Shell site at Thornton for a new Faculty of Engineering and incubator units with the vision to develop an internationally recognised campus.


Dr Chris Haslam, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Corporate Development and the Student Experience) added: “The University is absolutely delighted to be shortlisted for the Entrepreneurial University of the Year Award. As an institution, we are extremely active in exploring how the highly regarded work of staff and students can bring benefits to not only the business and commercial sectors but also how its activities can contribute to helping the communities of the region and beyond.

“Working in partnership with a range of organisations, we have developed a number of highly innovative projects through a sector leading Innovation Centre based at our Riverside Campus. Our shortlisting for this award is fantastic recognition for all the hard work that is being done by our staff and students to make us a nationally and internationally recognised university.”

All the award winners will be announced at the glittering THE Awards 2013 ceremony, taking place on Thursday, November 28 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane in London.