Praise for raising the profile of HE's 'unsung heroes'

30 Apr 2020 14:00:17.863

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Work aimed at raising the profile of over 700 technical staff at The University of Nottingham has been recognised with a prestigious award presented on the eve of the Supporting World Class Science conference.

Technicians underpin all aspects of university life — research, teaching, knowledge transfer and outreach. The S-Lab award for ‘Making a Difference’ went to The University of Nottingham’s Technical Focus Group formed in 2013 to ensure recognition and professionalisation of the institution’s technicians. 

Often seen as the ‘unsung heroes’ of Higher Education it is recognised that without technicians, institutions like The University of Nottingham would not be able to function. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir David Greenaway, said: “The University of Nottingham is a large, complex organisation. We have 34,000 students and teach across the full range of subjects. We are research intensive with an order book in the region £500m in research grants. And we are global with campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia. This award shows that the work we are doing to support our technical staff is of real importance. It is unimaginable, and easy to forget, that we could deliver what we do without a really well qualified and motivated technical staff.”

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The S-Lab awards, presented last night during a gala dinner at King’s College London, recognise excellence in laboratory design, operation and management. The “Making a Difference” category is awarded where a significant contribution has been made within an organisation through innovative actions which go beyond normal practice. 
A vital role that can go unnoticed
On a day to day basis, from the farm to the high-tech clean rooms, technicians at The University of Nottingham ensure classrooms are prepared, laboratories function properly, and increasingly sophisticated and complex equipment and experiments are fit and safe to use. They actively participate in research, perform demonstrations on open days and build or repair vital equipment — the University even has its own glassblowers.
Chair of Nottingham’s Technical Focus Group is Kelly Vere, Senior Technician and Technical Development Officer, who was recently named as the HEA Technician of the Year across all the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Kelly said: “Technical staff underpin the core activities of university life. In the field or in the lab the work of technicians can go unrecognised both inside and outside their own institutions. We want to ensure that the contribution technical staff make to the activities is understood and recognised by management and students.”
Focus group provides a voice
The focus group now provides a mechanism and network for technicians to share information, resources and expertise. It provides them with a voice and opportunity to contribute ideas to professional service units and management. By championing technical staff across the University the focus group hopes to build on the high quality technical support offered to colleagues and students at The University of Nottingham.
In January the TFG organised and ran a university wide event for 200 technicians and invited guests aimed at bringing the technical community together. The group now runs regular events for technicians on a range of themes including professional registration and good laboratory practice. A website dedicated to technical services staff at the University will soon be established and the University has ring-fenced funding to allow technical staff to become professionally accredited through the Science or Engineering Councils. 
The award was presented to Kelly Vere, Senior Technician in the Faculty of Engineering and School of Life Sciences; Sue Woodward, Technical Manager School of Biosciences; and Andy Lee, Technical Team Leader in the School of Biosciences.
High res images of our technicians at work are available on request.

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also the most popular university among graduate employers, the world’s greenest university, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…

Story credits

More information is available from Kelly Vere on +44 (0)115 846 6580,
Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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