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Winners bag 10k bursaries at UK’s best-known student-voted awards 

More than 70 per cent of the students who reviewed their institution via Whatuni, the UK’s largest university course comparison site, said that their course represented ‘value for money’, despite the challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic. The nationwide review collection was conducted as part of this year’s Whatuni Student Choice Awards, which highlight the work done by institutions to support their students over the academic year, and celebrate resilience, innovation and diversity within higher education.  

Uniquely, the nominees and winners of the awards are selected by students themselves, judged by a specially chosen panel made up of prospective and current university students.   

Winners Leeds Trinity University, Norland College, UCEN Manchester and the University of Chester have all been recognised as best-in-class for their support of students during the pandemic.   

Each winning institution will receive £10,000 to be awarded to 5 eligible students as Whatuni Bursaries in 2021/22 (£2,000 each). 

Much like the awards winners, Whatuni were determined to keep the awards on track even amidst a global pandemic, adapting their nomination and judging processes. This ensured that excellence was still rewarded in 2021, but without placing additional burdens on universities and colleges.  

With the traditional WUSCAs gala ceremony on ice due to current restrictions, this year’s awards will be announced in a virtual event held on Whatuni’s Twitter channel, @Whatuni, on 22 June.  

Simon Emmett, CEO at IDP Connect said: 

“The past twelve months have been incredibly difficult for universities and their students, and the Whatuni Student Choice Awards are a chance to recognise those institutions who have excelled in supporting their students even in the face of a global pandemic. This year has thrown up some real surprises, with some smaller institutions winning across all categories. 

“Our student reviews also showed a remarkably high level of overall student satisfaction across the country, with more than 70 per cent of students saying they were satisfied with the support they received over the past year. This is a genuine vote of confidence, and will be welcome news to universities and colleges as they continue to battle the challenges posed by Covid-19. 

“Each of our winners and finalists have gone above and beyond in support of their students, and the calibre of the nominations we have received show the incredible creativity, resilience and innovation that exists within the higher education sector.” 

Angela Rapley, Head of Brand and Content, IDP, added:   

“It was fantastic to see the judging panel with students gathered from across the country. Two big things struck us as the students reviewed the nominations. Firstly, that those universities that performed best were those whom the panel viewed to be putting the support of students at the heart of what they did. But more striking is the fact that a big majority of those students surveyed thought their university had provided value for money over the last year.  

“We’ve seen a lot of stories in the media about things that went wrong during the initial stages of the pandemic – and it’s right that problems were called out where they exist. But it was clear to the panel that a big majority of student respondents thought they had got good value for their money this year, even with the undeniable chaos that the pandemic brought. The institutions successfully pivoted, creating and implementing fantastic initiatives to support and engage their students, which our awards are very happy to celebrate.” 

The awards comprise four categories: 

Student Support – won by UCEN Manchester who demonstrated incredible commitment to listening to their students and responding to their needs with a series of appropriate initiatives including financial support for vulnerable students, flexibility around timetables and highly rated one-to-one tuition.   

Diversity and Inclusion – won by Leeds Trinity University who impressed judges with initiatives including the introduction of a compulsory module on race equality for all first-year students, as well as the establishment of safe spaces for students to discuss issues related to discrimination and inequality. 

Excellence in Digital Innovation – won by the University of Chester who accelerated their digital innovation and developed impactful digital solutions to help improve the student experience and increase accessibility for their students even in the face of a global pandemic.   

Enhanced Graduate Outcomes – won by Norland College who continued to offer students a popular range of employability experiences and opportunities throughout the pandemic, including giving them access to a dedicated employment agency and to lifelong professional development.  

WUSCAs closing video and winners


For further information or for any broadcast bids, please contact: 

Luke Holland on 07447 008098 // luke@cathoddu.com 

Background on the awards and review can be found here

Institutions were invited to submit applications for the Whatuni Student Choice Awards, with over 100 nominations received by the judging panel. 

The finalists in each category were as follows: 

Diversity & Inclusion:

  • Leeds Trinity University (winner) 

  • Swansea University 

  • Newcastle University 

Enhanced Graduate Outcome:

  • Norland College (winner) 

  • Teesside University 

  • De Montfort University 

Student Support:

  • UCEN Manchester (winner) 

  • Middlesex University 

  • Oxford Business College

Excellence in Digital Innovation:

  • University of Chester (winner) 

  • Teesside University 

  • De Montfort University 

Watch the full event

You can view all the videos from our online 2021 WUSCAs event here:

Watch the 2021 WUSCAs
Guest Author 22 June 2021