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Wednesday 5 September 2018

Solent University has been recognised for its student support and contribution to the community at the ‘Oscars of higher education’, the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2018.

The University has been shortlisted in two categories – ‘Outstanding Support for Studentsand ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community’. The winners will be announced at a prestigious ceremony in London on 29 November.

THE editor John Gill said: "In yet another record year for entries, and with over 70 institutions represented on the shortlist, it’s a genuine privilege for the THE team and our judges to read through these many and varied tales of excellence from all corners of the UK. It’s a significant achievement to make this shortlist, and we look forward to honouring all the finalists at the Grosvenor in November."

Solent’s shortlisted entry in the ‘outstanding support for students’ category is a retention strategy that takes an innovative data-focussed approach to personalising support, helping the University buck the sector-wide trend of increasing drop-out rates.

In 2016/17 the University’s Student Achievement Team delivered proactive targeted activities of support, designed to meet the needs of ‘at risk’ groups of students identified through data analysis. This approach focused on preventing students reaching the point of considering withdrawing from the University. Initiatives were designed and implemented to tackle the barriers to success experienced by groups of students identified as at risk of dropping out.

A sophisticated picture of three-year trends in retention and achievement was created, and a significant outcome of this analysis was work carried out across the University to create a wider culture of retention and achievement, for example achievement scholarships provided support for high achieving students to enhance their success and inspire other students.

Shortlisted in the Outstanding Contribution to the Community category, the ultimate aim of the Small Faces exhibition was to remove barriers to creativity by inviting people to be part of a large collective artwork made up of thousands of individual portraits.

The idea for the exhibition at the University’s Showcase Gallery was simple; an open submission where the theme was 'postcard portraits'.  Postcards are cheap and accessible, with no expensive framing required; and portraits have an established history within art, as well as popular appeal.  Most importantly, all work submitted would be shown.

The response was overwhelming; over 7000 portraits were received and additional exhibition space required. The exhibition was packed with personal stories: a teenage girl with terminal cancer had the opportunity to debut her artwork in a public space; a 90-year-old created artwork for the first time in 40 years; and a group of refugees remembered those they'd left behind.  

Over 30 schools and 65 community groups took part; more than 600 people attended the opening; and over 5000 visited the exhibition – a third of the yearly total in just six weeks.

The success of the project helped secure £15,000 of Arts Council funding for the gallery’s recent community project, Stand Together.