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University high achievers scheme wins national teaching award

PICTURED: HARS team at Birmingham City University

A UNIQUE programme at Birmingham City University, designed to support and develop the skills of high achieving students, has won a national teaching award.

Following a rigorous peer review and selection process, the High Achievers Recognition Scheme (HARS), based in the institution’s Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, has been recognised with a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) today (Thursday 30 August).

The Scheme is open to all eligible students who achieve good academic results, and to those who have made significant educational progress whilst studying at Birmingham City University.

Launched three years ago, it is a scheme which rewards both effort and achievement, providing enrichment opportunities across four tracks – personal and leadership development; voluntary and community opportunity; internationalisation; and advanced academic and professional skills – and a set of scholarships which were introduced in 2017.

Organised and run by the Higher Education Academy, CATE recognises and rewards collaborative work that has had a demonstrable impact on teaching and learning. Introduced in 2016, CATE highlights the key role of teamwork in higher education.

Professor Ian Blair, Executive Dean, Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University, said: “We are delighted HARS has been recognised by the Higher Education Academy. Our scheme is unique within the UK sector and has only been made possible thanks to determined teamwork within the Faculty and across a plethora of central University support services, as well as everyone working in collaboration with the students themselves.

“Through recognising and developing academic excellence, we are better placed to support our diverse student body and help facilitate the health, education and science leaders of tomorrow’s workplace.”

Since its introduction, HARS has benefitted hundreds of students, and has been particularly crucial in improving the success of those from economically deprived and low higher education participation areas, while also closing the attainment gaps between BAME students and their white peers.

Alongside leadership and mentoring from the Faculty Academic Lead for HARS, students have access to tailored support from wider University services, such as Graduate+, Careers+, Library and Learning Resources and the Personal Development Department (PPD). In addition, students have benefitted from strong external partnerships with placement providers and experts in professional development.

Juliette Gaunt, Faculty Academic Lead for HARS, said: “The impact HARS has made across the Faculty has been incredible. A lot of our students are the first in their family to secure a place in higher education or are mature scholars returning to studies after many years. The experiences of being valued by HARS is both empowering and uplifting for the many diverse groups of students whose needs this scheme meets.

“HARS has received much attention both nationally and around the world, but it is reassuring to see that, closer to home, other Faculties within the University are also hoping to run similar programmes.”

The Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences is located on the University’s City South Campus in Edgbaston. The Campus was expanded earlier this year when its new £41 million university building opened, offering state-of-the-art sports equipment, laboratories and additional teaching space.

The CATE award will be presented to the winning team at Birmingham City University during a ceremony in November in Edinburgh.

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