HESPA Award Winners 2020

12 February 2020      Monica Madeley, Projects and Engagement Officer

We were delighted to congratulate our HESPA20 Award winners at the annual conference dinner last week, and to share in celebrating their hard work. We’d also like to thank everyone else who nominated themselves or others for an award; we really enjoyed reading about the valuable work you all do and would like to congratulate all of you on your achievements.

Details of our award winners and their work can be found below:

Winner of the Data Award: Middlesex University

 HESPA20 Data Award

“The experience of commuter students has risen on the national agenda in recent years. At Middlesex we’ve responded to and further shaped this agenda, conducting cutting edge analysis and producing advanced business intelligence that is radically reshaping our thinking and approaches to how we support students. We have delivered a diverse, comprehensive and innovative analysis, both quantitative and qualitative, to better understand the needs and experiences of our commuter students, enabling the university to respond by offering tailored support in order to improve their long-term outcomes. We have delivered this work in close partnership with the Students’ Union, achieving wide engagement across the university, and have become a leading voice in the sector on the issue, contributing to WonkHE’s ‘Secret Lives of Students’ conferences, raising emerging findings with the Greater London Assembly and participating in a pilot London Higher project.

Using student postcodes and the Google Maps API, public transport travel times to campus were calculated for all new undergraduate students at Middlesex over a historical five-year period. This resulted in a vast, rich dataset of over 15,000 records, allowing a level of understanding and insight that was not previously possible and helping challenge prior assumptions about our commuter students. Statistical models built using this dataset have given us the power to verify and quantify the impact of increased commute times on student continuation and achievement in relation to other factors (e.g. accommodation, socio-economic information), and how this impact varies across different groups of students, helping us identify targeted interventions”.

Winner of Strategic Planning Team Award: The Open University

HESPA20 Strategic Planning Team Award

“Over the last year we have been on a change journey instigated through our drive for continuous improvement and an opportunity to directly engage with the new Vice-Chancellor and his team (VCE) and bring Unit Business Planning (UBP) to the forefront of executive-level discussions. We have achieved a real step-change in the University’s approach to UBP, which kick-started a culture shift, bringing greater focus on accountability, collaboration, and strategic alignment.

We conducted a deep-dive review of UBP to critically evaluate its effectiveness and identify improvements. One of the key design principles of the review was collaboration with internal colleagues as well as networks from the UK and Australian HE sector, to ensure that our work was informed by colleagues’ feedback and best practice in the sector.

The recommendations formed the basis for our discussions with the new Vice-Chancellor and his team to openly highlight challenges and drive improvements in time for the next planning cycle. In addition, through VCE Away Days we re-emphasised the importance of UBP and influenced the all-staff communication outlining the University’s priorities and their implications for UBP. This clarity and executive buy-in has never happened before and the planning community commended our team for making it happen.

Our team embodies extensive stakeholder engagement and collaboration, striving to deliver the best value we possibly can to our University and students. We pride ourselves on high quality outputs and our external perspective and feel privileged that our VCE appreciates the importance the work that our team delivers”.

Winner of the Strategy Award: King's College London

HESPA20 Strategy Award

“King’s believes it’s an important time for universities to make a full contribution to society and we are actively challenging conventional views about what universities do. Embarking on a new strategic vision, we realised that to deliver our diverse mission and maximise our contribution we needed to transform how we leveraged the value of our vast data assets.

Based on the growing need to provide integrated reporting throughout King’s, the Analytics department embarked on the ambitious Business intelligence Project. Key data sources were identified from Students, Estates & Timetabling, Research, Human Resources and Finance, and systematically merged into one easy to access Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW).

Our mission:

1. To overcome the problems associated with siloed data and make the same data - the right data - available to everyone

2. To bring several separate reporting systems together into our EDW and create an easy and cohesive way for them to interact with each other

This extensive multi-phase project amalgamates and improves the usability and functionality of existing business intelligence reporting tools by creating intuitive, live, responsive reporting and easy to navigate dashboards and apps, built in Power BI and housed in our online Report Catalogue – a growing repository of 90 data reports.

Our solution has begun to help us achieve our strategic vision; to invest in well implemented and supported systems, to enable continuous improvement of processes, facilitate step changes in education delivery for our students and research, and ensure we have the data to underpin effective and transparent decision making”.

Winner of the Performance Management Award: Ulster University

HESPA20 Performance Management Award

“The Strategic Planning team at Ulster has been immensely valuable in taking a disciplined approach to running the planning process, and ensuring a golden thread runs between, Governmental policy, the institutional strategic plan, the faculty/departmental plans, and individual employees’ personal objectives.  The Balanced Scorecard approach to operationalising the “glossy” strategic plan, getting buy-in from all colleagues, and developing an accountability framework, has also positively impacted on domestic league table results and sectoral surveys, including NSS, where we have risen from 90th to 23rd in one year.

This transformation roadmap has delivered a unitary, data-rich, evidence-based strategy execution system. Starting with success thinking, through to actionable goals, and customisable execution, the implementation of this system has created a more sustainable and integrated organisation, enhancing the student experience, the research profile, and our reputation”.

Winner of the Paul Youngson Award: Dr. Christine Couper

HESPA20 Paul Youngson Award

In memory of an excellent planner and treasured colleague, the Paul Youngson Award was presented to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the strategic planning community, including HESPA and its members.

Christine Couper, Director of Strategic Planning at the University of Greenwich, is a longstanding member of the strategic planning community and has played an integral part in its development and in the professionalisation of planners in the sector. She has represented planners on a number of sector wide working groups and advisory panels and continues to be heavily involved in work on learner analytics, among other things. As one of HESPA’s first executive committee members, Christine supported the strategic direction of the association as it transitioned from being a special interest group (called the National Planners Forum) of the Association of University Administrators (AUA). Having stood down from the executive in 2018, Christine’s work to support HESPA continues via her membership of its Development Committee, through which she ensures that the organisation’s training offer is relevant and of a high quality.

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