The awards, now in their twelfth year, are widely recognised as the Oscars of the higher education sector, shining a spotlight on the outstanding achievements of institutions, teams and individuals working in UK higher education.
Unlike other categories, this award is determined from the results of a student survey, rather than selection by judges.
From the data collected for the next Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey (due to be published in spring 2017), Ulster University was deemed to have improved the most, compared with the previous year, and is therefore selected for the Most Improved Student Experience Award.
The survey, carried out by market research company YouthSight, asked more than 15,000 full-time undergraduates to evaluate their experience at university across 21 different measures. These 21 features of university life were all named by students as an important part of the university experience. They include course structure, lecture quality, social life, campus environment, industry connections and sports facilities.
Professor Paddy Nixon, Vice-Chancellor and President, Ulster University said: "I am delighted that the quality, talent and dedication of Ulster University staff has been recognised by this prestigious UK award. The experience we give our students is second to none and this award acknowledges that fact on a national level. It demonstrates our commitment to providing a transformative educational experience and our ultimate vision of nurturing a vibrant student community that prepares our graduates to make a positive impact on global societies."
In the survey results, satisfaction scores for each attribute are weighted to reflect how important these factors are in the student experience overall.
Liam Kirkwood, research manager at YouthSight, said Ulster University had seen a 3.7 point increase in the overall student experience score and a rise of 37 places in the rankings.
He added that the university had been successful in improving its student satisfaction score in a number of different areas, including measures such as whether a student’s personal requirements were being met and also a measure titled “good student welfare”.
The black-tie event took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London, and was hosted by actor Richard E. Grant. Over 12,000 guests – including the great and good of the higher education sector as well as shortlisted teams from institutions across the UK – gathered to celebrate the extraordinary talent, creativity and resourcefulness of our universities.