Held at Lancaster University during the College & University Business Officers Summer Conference, the awards recognized six institutions in England, as well as the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland .
The University of Bath was awarded the Campus Experience of the Year category, with the University of Nottingham recognized in two categories – Excellence in Sports Experience and its Sports Department recognized for Best Marketing Campaign.
“Many of this year’s entries were examples of innovation in supporting students during Covid, and the quality of these was exceptional,” CUBO CEO Jan Capper told The PIE.
“Non-academic experience has always been important, but in 2020/21 universities have really stepped up to support students in lockdown, whether it’s delivering thousands of meals to those self-isolating, creating a Christmas Day for those who can’t go home, providing extra wellness support to combat loneliness, or inventing new virtual social and physical activities to help build connections and friendships.
Bath stood out as the winner of Campus Experience of the Year for the range of actions it has taken during the pandemic, she noted, ranging from offering food vouchers and beverages, exercise equipment and indoor gardening packs, encouraging regular testing, online events including language cafes, book clubs and support sessions, and pop-up outlets at carry.
The university also allowed students who were unable to go home on vacation — but whose roommates could — to live with others for free, Capper continued.
Similarly, the University of Edinburgh’s Best Residence Life winning entry demonstrated a ‘great example’ of inter-university cooperation in helping students deal with anxiety and re-engage with the Edinburgh community after the pandemic, while Oxford Brookes University’s partnership with Gather & Gather and Coop showed “how businesses and universities can work together to deliver crisis support, a better overall food experience and retail and part-time jobs to students”.
CUBO awarded its first Honorary Membership award to the late Andrew Nightingale, former Chairman of the UUK/GuildHE Accommodation Code of Practice Board and former Director of Estates at the University of Essex.
The posthumous award enabled CUBO to “recognize Andrew’s enormous contribution to the introduction and development of the Code…and the respect with which it has been held throughout his long and successful career in the industry of higher education,” the organization noted.
“Non-academic experience has always been important, but in 2020-2021 universities have really stepped up to support students in lockdown”
Former CUBO board members David McKown MBE of the University of Sheffield and Jon Greenwood MBE of the University of York were also recognized as honorary members.
Other winners include Loughborough University in the Creativity in Catering and Retail category, the University of Warwick for Innovation in Student Accommodation and the University of Birmingham for Creativity in Lectures, events and hospitality.
“A huge amount of largely invisible work goes into accommodation, food and shopping, wellness and sporting activities, recycling, deliveries, childcare and other services around college campuses,” Capper added.
“During the pandemic, event staff ran vaccination and testing centers, chefs moved from food halls to take-out services, cleaners cleaned despite personal risk and life teams in residence invented a multitude of online activities almost overnight. We are proud to recognize this vital work through the CUBO Awards.
The full list of winners is available here and a photo gallery from the event here.