Staff at the University of Huddersfield celebrated after winning the Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion award at the 2022 Times Higher Education Awards at a ceremony in London.

The award was won for the Huddersfield Differential Attainment Project, which makes innovative use of data analysis to help bridge the student attainment gap.

The data helps staff pinpoint how they can ensure students achieve their best, whatever their background.

The award is the culmination of several years’ work by the university to reduce the attainment gap, led by the university’s Strategic Teaching and Learning Team, which worked with staff across all schools to plan and implement interventions.

The university’s award-winning Flying Start initiative helps students move successfully from schools and colleges into higher education from the point at which they make a decision to come to the University of Huddersfield.

Other interventions include IT bursary schemes, curriculum redesign, a focus on personal academic tutoring, academic integrity training and enhanced academic and technical support.

Praising the university’s efforts, the judges said: “A vital component in promoting equal opportunity was a digital support scheme that offered laptops on loan, scholarships and £500 IT bursaries for students from low-income families.

“All this meant the university was well placed to move to online learning when coronavirus lockdowns began in 2020 because students had access to targeted support to study independently.

“Too often, efforts to close the attainment gap in UK higher education have generated more noise than impact. But the University of Huddersfield has proved that strategic, focused actions can make a real difference.

“The university analysed data to identify complex, intersecting factors affecting student outcomes in different contexts. The results informed the development of targeted plans at departmental and course level.”

Prof Jane Owen-Lynch, pro-vice-chancellor for learning and teaching, said: “We are absolutely delighted to win this award.

“It is a fantastic recognition for years of hard work and reducing the attainment gap, especially in the face of the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic presented us with.

“I want to pay particular tribute to the core team but also to all the staff across the institution for their contribution in helping to give our students the confidence and ability to be successful in higher education, whatever their background and context.”