Aston shortlisted for THE University of the Year 2021

Aston University campus image
Aston University campus image

Aston shortlisted for THE University of the Year 2021

Aston University has been shortlisted for the University of the Year in the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021. The academic community widely regards THE Awards as the ‘Oscars of higher education, and in 2021, the rankings attracted a record number of entries. The prestigious annual awards recognise outstanding work and exceptional performance across the higher education sector. Aston University is proud to be considered for the esteemed title of University of the Year.

What Is The Times Higher Education (THE)?

The Times Higher Education is a magazine reporting on the latest news and happenings related to higher education. THE provides global coverage that helps students, employees, and employers discover world university rankings, press releases, opinion pieces, thought leadership, features, and book reviews. 

THE is widely known for its World University Rankings. The rankings, founded in 2004, provide a definitive list of the world’s best universities, emphasising research, teaching, and impact. In the latest 2022 ranking, Aston University is considered a Top 500 global university with an international outlook of 91.6 — the 90th percentile placement underscores Aston’s commitment to teaching with an international focus.

a group of students discussing

What Makes Aston a Contender for University of the Year?

In 2020, the world grappled with unforeseen changes ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic. Universities rapidly shift to online learning models and upgraded technology and digital platforms to accommodate new ways of learning. Students adjusted to online courses and juggled the stress imposed by coursework and the feelings of uncertainty outside of the classroom. 

Despite the tumultuous changes affecting communities and businesses worldwide, Aston University’s commitment to supporting students, research efforts, thought leadership, and small businesses remain steady. Aston focuses on its core beneficiaries: students, external organisations, the West Midlands region, and broader society. As a result, leading experts are considering Aston University for outstanding achievement in 2021. 

Aston’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Aston University continuously supports students and teaching faculty through challenging times, and the pandemic is no exception. For example, in 2020, Aston University contributed to the Midlands’s £90 million COVID-19 research efforts. Aston’s research and activity during COVID-19 appear in numerous parts of the report published by Midlands Innovation: Mobilising Research Excellence in the Midlands to Tackle COVID-19.

Other research from Aston Medical School looked at how COVID-19 disproportionately affects Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people with recommendations made to Parliament. In addition, Aston Business school’s study outlines ways to support Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) staff and enhance productivity in the context of COVID-19. The hands-on research demonstrates Aston’s commitment to being positive agents of change and leveraging existing resources to solve real-world problems in the context of the pandemic.

Professor Alec Cameron, Vice-Chancellor, Aston University and Chair of Midlands Innovation, said: 

“I am proud of the way Aston has contributed to the West Midlands’ considerable effort in addressing COVID-19 and the challenges it has presented. We, like many others, have shown that our flexibility, swiftness of action, and strong commitment to our community has had a really positive impact on what can be achieved in the face of adversity. Aston places great importance on contributing to our region, and our response to the pandemic has given us the opportunity to demonstrate this in a positive and tangible way.”

Aston Provides Fast-Track Support to Job Placements

Aston University grants students valuable experience by providing fast-track support to ensure students are placement-ready and match each student to the best-suited job based on their unique skills and career goals. In the last few years, Aston introduced new initiatives to improve job placement opportunities for students, including combining multiple placement activities and offering remote and virtual placements, shorter placements, and volunteering and community engagement.

As a school committed to professional development, Aston helps students transition from the classroom to the competitive job market with ease. Their award-winning team allows students to write effective CVs, cover letters and applications. The faculty also support students with a range of events, one-to-one support and group sessions across various employability topics. Aston’s careers and placement programme “Aston Futures” offers students a designated online hub to find careers and placement resources, support, and information.

Aston Offers Insight and Thought Leadership from Experts

In 2019, Aston launched the podcast series Aston Means Business with a mission to start a dialogue with some of the world’s most influential academics, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. In 2020, Aston commissioned a special series focused on real-life examples of how SMEs dealt with the pandemic and offered insight, analysis, and advice from Aston Business School’s academic experts. Aston saw an opportunity to amplify stories from SMEs during the pandemic to showcase how business owners grapple with unforeseen change and challenges.

Aston’s podcast continues to touch on timely world issues, including the responsibility of business leaders and organisations to offset climate change and lower their carbon footprint. In a recent episode, Low Carbon SMEs (S4, E4) interviews the academic driving the project, Professor Prasanta Dey, Professor in Operations and Information Management at Aston University, as well as the project manager of Low Carbon SMEs and small business owners committed to engaging in climate change efforts. After introducing this sustainable pursuit, the Green Gown Awards 2021 announced Aston University as a finalist. The Low Carbon SME project is one more example of Aston University’s genuine efforts to participate in significant, relevant, global issues.

Aston Helps Small Businesses Grow

Aston University continues to demonstrate a commitment to the betterment of small-to-medium-sized businesses. In August 2021, Rishi Sunak launched the scheme from Aston Business School in the Government’s Small Business Leadership Programme, which informed the Chancellor of Exchequer’s £520 million ‘Help to Grow’ management initiative, a project with a focus on digital adoption for UK SMEs. The scheme provides SMEs with discounted software, expert advice on utilising it best, and MBA-style management training to encourage innovation.

In addition to Aston’s involvement in the Help to Grow project, Aston is one of only three business schools in the UK to earn the Gold Level Small Business Charter Award and recognised by THE as an Outstanding Entrepreneurial University, helping business owners and sole proprietors thrive in today’s workforce.

Aston Supports Sustainability and Social Responsibility 

Sustainability and social responsibility are issues Aston’s staff, students, and stakeholders feel passionate about and take seriously. Aston proudly works alongside The Active Wellbeing Society, The Real Junk Food Project, FareShare and Birmingham City Council. The university also offered space in its students’ union building to provide an expanded food distribution service providing vital supplies to communities in need across Birmingham.

Aston University is equally committed to delivering social mobility by helping students acquire in-demand skills through accessible online programmes. In addition, the university offers a scholarship to translate world-class research into benefits for the economy, society, and local and global communities. In 2020, the Guardian recognised Aston as University of the Year, partly due to Aston’s work eradicating the gap in grades between BAME students and their white peers and its emphasis on sustainability.

Graduate students

Aston University’s Online Programmes

Education should be accessible, whether you live in a bustling cityscape or a remote rural town. Distance learning makes higher education available to learners across the world. Aston University offers excellence in higher education through reputable distance learning programmes that are constantly evolving with trends and technologies. Each master’s programme provides an industry-focused curriculum taught by accomplished faculty that propels your career and fits your busy lifestyle.

Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Aston’s online MBA programme helps working professionals gain a competitive edge through a 100% online quantitative and qualitative curriculum. The programme allows you to strengthen your leadership skills, build your business acumen and expand your global network.

Master of Science | Business & Management Suite

Aston’s fully online MSc Business & Management suite offers programmes personalised to your career ambition and goals. The suite can boost your industry skills and career, focusing on management, finance, entrepreneurship, innovation, global business, and the digital economy.

Master of Science | Business Analytics Suite

Aston University’s 100% online MSc Business Analytics suite prepares you for analytical roles through theoretical and practical business applications, relevant case studies and hands-on experience with today’s most in-demand technologies. You have the option to choose from three specialised programmes, including Business Analytics, Management & Analytics or Digital Marketing & Analytics.

Executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Aston University offers an online DBA designed for business professionals who want to be experts in their field through a specialised research project and direction from an industry expert. As one of CEO Magazine’s top-ranked DBAs, showcased alongside other prestigious universities such as Harvard and Pepperdine, Aston’s DBA prepares current and future executives for the rigours of the global economy, with a focus on actionable business and management research to complement your career path.

Keep Up With Aston’s University of the Year Announcement

Aston University has been shortlisted alongside five other universities: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, University of Sunderland, Cardiff Metropolitan University, The Open University and the University of York. The winners will be announced at a ceremony on the evening of 25th November 2021 in central London.


Discover Aston University’s world-renowned online programmes.