Leeds Arts University has been shortlisted for the Times Higher Education International Impact Award for its work with former student Ria Sharma and her organisation Make Love Not Scars, a non-government organisation dedicated to supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of acid attack victims.
Ria Sharma, then a BA (Hons) Fashion student at the University, focussed her final year project on the relationship between fashion and women’s empowerment, spending her final semester in India to carry out research. During this time Ria came into contact with survivors of acid attacks and began making a film documenting the survivors experiences. With the support of her tutors, and their recognition of her passion for women’s rights, Ria was able to establish the charity Make Love Not Scars whilst still in the final year of her degree at Leeds Arts University.
Since leaving the University, Ria Sharma has won several awards for her work, including the British Council Study UK International Alumni Award 2016 for Social Impact in India and the India Today Woman Summit 2017 - Woman in Public Service Award. Ria credits her achievements and the founding of Make Love Not Scars to the support and encouragement she received whilst at Leeds Arts University, describing her experience of UK higher education as “life-changing” and the support from professors as “unmatched…they went out of their way to make a girl from India feel comfortable”.
Professor Randall Whittaker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Academic, said:
“We are delighted to be shortlisted for the Times Higher Education International Impact Award. As an institution we place great value on the creation of an environment where each student is encouraged to thrive, preparing them as active citizens with the ability to respond creatively to the issues of today with impact across the globe.
We are immensely proud of Ria and everything she accomplished whilst studying at Leeds Arts University, and since graduating, and are honoured by the recognition of the impact her education has had on her achievements”
Commonly known as the 'Oscars of Higher Education', The Times Higher Education Awards, now in their 13th year, attract entries from universities across the country and recognise the best in talent, dedication and innovation the higher education sector has to offer. The International Impact Award identifies an institution that has, through the efforts of its staff, students and graduates, had a significant, demonstrable impact on the world at large.
John Gill, Times Higher Education editor, said:
"Once again these awards have attracted hundreds of entries from the length and breadth of the nation, and from institutions of every hue. All those shortlisted can be immensely proud to have made it through this first phase, and we at Times Higher Education look forward to honouring the winners for their talent, creativity and commitment at a time for the academy when these qualities are increasingly essential."
The Times Higher Education Awards will be announced at a gala ceremony held in London on 30 November 2017. Find out more and see the full shortlist here.