The Student Led Awards, previously called the Student Led Teaching Awards (SLTA’s) is Brunel’s way of celebrating the incredible work of Brunel University Staff & Student Reps during this academic year.
The awards have been running for a while now and this year, we weren’t able to hold our normal celebration night of dinner, drinks & speeches. Instead, we asked our winners to create videos that we shared online across our Social Media and YouTube Channel.
Back in January & February, we asked our members to nominate their lecturer or member of support staff who had made a massive difference to their experience here at Brunel. We had awards for Exceptional Feedback, Sustainability Champion, Tutor/Supervisor of the Year & the Lecturer of the Year for each of the three colleges.
Whilst the nominations were open, we had 845 nominations! More than double the number we had in 2019 (308 Nominations) & more than three times the number we had in 2018 (249). It truly reflects the passion felt by students about the incredible teaching and support they get here at Brunel University.
We also included our Student Reps in the awards this year for the second time and saw another huge increase in the number of nominations with 473 which is a doubling of the number we had last year (235 in 2019).
Our first award for Exceptional Support Staff went to Christel Thames, one of our Careers Consultants in the Professional Development Centre. One student said “She made me feel really great about myself, helped massively and was so interested in me and my course. She has made my day.”.
Next, we had our Global Citizen Award, and the winner was Dr Monica Degen, who has been working as a Lecturer at Brunel since 2004. The award demonstrates immense leadership in fostering a global community on campus and Monica’s students certainly felt that she created an inclusive and immersive learning environment.
We then had our award for the Liberation, Equality & Diversity Champion which was awarded to Lesley Warren, a Senior Recruitment Officer in the STEM Team. Students across the board said that Lesley was “an inspiration to the ambassadors and has championed more representation”.
We then had our Technician of the Year Award go to Mr Minal Shah, who works with the College of Engineering, Design & Physical Sciences. This award was given to Minal because it was clear he had helped students understand the difficult concepts through labs & practical experiments that makes Brunel stand out as exceptional for its practical learning style. Minal was described by his students as exceptionally patient and hard-working, often going above and beyond.
Next, we had one of our Student Reps accept the award for Doctoral Researcher Rep of the Year. The winner was Samira Safari who is a PhD Student in the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department. In the video, Samira thanked the department and the students for the opportunity to be the voice of the researchers at Brunel University.
Another Student Rep, Ross Ballinger was announced as the Student Rep of the Year for CEDPS. Ross is the rep for Industrial Design and had a really important message in his video where he encouraged students to find out who their rep was or run for the role yourself. It’s advocates like Ross, who have elevated the awareness that students have about the Student Rep scheme.
Our Student Rep of the Year for the College of Business, Arts & Social Sciences was awarded to Melis Omalar who was nominated by both students and staff in her college for her exemplary work this year. Melis has influenced the programme, how it works for students and organised social sessions for students who study the course - going above and beyond to support the academic experience.
Finally, the Student Rep of the Year in the College of Health & Life Sciences was awarded to Leti Hosang who has been the course rep for Sports Science at Brunel. Leti didn’t just campaign, alongside other course reps, for changes within her course but also consistently kept her students updated with changes to module structures, exam information and course work guidelines.
Next, we had the three awards given for the Tutor/ Supervisor of the Year for the three colleges. The first was awarded to Niamh Mellerick in the College of Health & Life Sciences who was nominated by a huge number of her students who said “Always so friendly and always supportive...Always put students' needs first” which is exactly the sort of messages every staff member at Brunel wants to hear. Niamh finished her video by hoping that next year, her students could laugh at just one of her jokes - Don’t worry Niamh, I’m sure it’ll happen.
We then had Dr Majoj Dora for the College of Business, Arts and Social Sciences who reminded us that during this challenging time, we need more learning and sharing and he wanted to thank all of the students who nominated.
Finally, we had Professor Hamed Al-Raweshidy for the College of Design, Engineering & Physical Sciences. His students were incredibly passionate in their nominations of him, including one who said: “Professor Hamed Al-Raweshidy is not only a supervisor for me he's my mentor, friend, advisor, confidante and a voice of reason.”
Next, we had our Sustainability Champion Award which was awarded “to a member of University staff who has gone above and beyond to equip students with the knowledge, skills and attributes required to be sustainability leaders.” and that Staff Member was Dr Mary Richards who is the Programme Director of the new Global Challenges which last summer gained funding to take students to refugee and resettlement sites in Zambia. Mary said in her video that she’d always wanted a Student Led Award which is a good job because she’s been at Brunel now almost 19 years since she started as a Subject Leader for Drama in 2008.
We then had our award for Outstanding Feedback which was given to Dr David Aldridge, who is the director of Research in the Department of Education. David has over 20 nominations for the Outstanding Feedback award, and it’s not hard to see why he won considering that students said that “He is very approachable and when one of his students need to contact him he says us to email or pop-in which is such a great way to improve my studies”.
David also said in his video that he felt like a rock star by giving his speech through video, which is exactly what we were going for.
Finally, we were into the last five of our awards and the next went to another Student Rep - This time to Aliasger Bharmal for the Union Engagement Award. Aliasger was elected last year to be the Student Rep for History, but since then he’s also been involved in creating videos to promote the Student Rep Scheme & engaged in our Student Assembly sessions, which debate motions and policy that the Union works & campaigns on throughout the year.
The next set of awards went to the Lecturer of the Year for all three colleges. The first going Dr Nicholas Morris from the College of Health & Life Sciences who was shocked that he was nominated, and doubly shocked when he won the Lecturer of the Year Award. Students said that Dr Morris “actually makes me want to come to his lectures regularly”.
Next, we had the Lecturer of the Year for the College of Engineering, Design & Physical Sciences which was Dr Nayna Patel who specialises in User Experience and is an associate lecturer in Computer Science. Her students said that “she has always been very warm and welcoming which makes her much more approachable than other lecturers, to discuss any topic, whether it is how to get into the User Experience field which she is a specialist in, or to just have a general chat about academics and personal life, she always welcomed students with a very warm heart and provides a thoughtful direction in which we can move forward.”
Finally, we had the Lecturer of the Year for the College of Business, Arts & Social Sciences which was Mr Timon Munir who started teaching in 2006 and is now a Lecturer in Accounting. His student said that Timon is “very knowledgeable in his field and cares about his students' learning. For example, he takes the time to go through every step of how to use the accounting software of SAGE and encourages his students not to panic during the exams”.
We now come to our final award, which was new this year - It’s the Union Engagement Champion. This award wasn’t on the original list, and it’s because it was decided by the panel of judges to go to the person who has supported and championed the work of the Students’ Union. Sometimes, our projects & campaigns can take years to see success and aren’t always easy to explain - but we’ve always felt supported by these two staff members for supporting our values.
The two winners are Professor Stefaan Simons & Professor William Leahy - They’ve attended our events, worked with our officers and always want to hear more about what our Union is working on in partnership with the University.
We’re looking forward to the next Academic Year and an opportunity to see how excellent Brunel Staff can be using blended learning, and supporting students in 2020 & 2021. The Student Led Awards is a great example of how when Brunel Staff Members and Student Reps work together, they can achieve a perfect academic experience for Brunel.