Student stands between long library bookshelves reading a book

University of Gloucestershire

To become a university of choice, the University of Gloucestershire understands that it needs to look beyond teaching excellence and focus on the overall student experience. The WOW! Awards initially launched as a programme to shine a light on the performance of ‘non-academic’ teams but its popularity has seen nominations being received across the entire University.


The University of Gloucestershire has a long-standing heritage and to this day includes buildings dating back to the 1800s in the historic spa town of Cheltenham. The University is based across three campuses in Cheltenham and Gloucester and continues to expand. It is organised across eight schools covering a range of academic studies and proudly boasts a vibrant community of 12,000 students and 1,500 staff.

The University of Gloucestershire is proud to rank in the top third of UK universities (49/131) for teaching quality and in the top 10 for high quality staff, lecturers and personal relationships in the esteemed Times and Sunday Times league tables.

The challenge

Like many educational institutions, the University of Gloucestershire’s culture and organisation was very much established around academic roles.

However, the University’s more up-to-date proposition and strategy is centered around students and for that, the management team understands that they are selling an overall student experience. This relies on excellent teaching colleagues, but also all roles that support students in different ways, such as helping them to settle into campus life or facilitating key support services.

Previous recognition platforms in place at the University had overlooked all non-academic roles across finance, HR, library services etc. So the initial challenge was to find an engagement programme to motivate wider teams in their contributions to the overall student experience and to bring the overall organisation together.

The University looked for a programme that could span all role types whilst also encouraging both external and internal feedback.

The approach

A renewed customer mindset led to a new way of thinking for the University, centered around the student as the customer and considering their overall experience.

A key element of this revised strategy was to open up celebrations of success to the entire organisation. Support roles had previously lacked any significant visibility across the University’s wider organisation. The University of Gloucestershire launched The WOW! Awards over seven years ago with the primary goal of driving recognition for their ‘non academic’ colleagues.

A big internal awards ceremony is hosted each year to recognise academic staff achievements and now incorporates The WOW! Awards to extend celebrations to the wider teams.

In reality, having made the awards universally available, the University started to increasingly see nominations being received across all roles at the University including for academic teaching colleagues. Award nominations from students and internal teams hold great meaning for academic and teaching colleagues alike and is a positive way of generating a sense of team where everyone plays a role in delivering the student experience.

I’m really surprised, I was not expecting it at all. Even though I’m just doing my job, it’s really nice to be recognised by my fellow staff members.

Elaine Arundel

Insurance Manager (nomination recipient), University of Gloucestershire

The outcome

Initially designed as an engagement programme for non academic roles, the University found that the simple nomination system was picked up more broadly. Students started to nominate teaching staff and the awards really spread across the entire organisation.

Seven years on, the Vice Chancellor and senior management team for University of Gloucestershire are highly committed to The WOW! Awards. Nominations and awards are given significant visibility and offer meaningful recognition to all colleagues.

Over 1300 nominations have been made since launch. That represents 1300 positive stories showcasing examples of the culture and student experience that the University wants to highlight and further encourage.

The WOW! Awards helps the University to hear from our student community about individual staff members delivering great service across the institution. In excess of 500 nominations have been received over the past two academic years to highlight the great work of individuals.

The University has found that being part of The WOW! Awards is proving to be motivational for our employees and supports our delivery of customer service to a consistently high standard.

Stewart Dove

Director of Student Support, University of Gloucestershire