Leeds Arts University shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Awards 2018

06 September 2018

Leeds Arts University has been shortlisted for two Times Higher Education awards, recognising the global impact of the University’s work.

A collaborative project between Leeds Arts University and the Sheffield School of Architecture (University of Sheffield) has been shortlisted for the International Collaboration Award for Hospital(ity) School, a trailblazing social design project. The University has also been shortlisted for 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.

Bianca Elzenbaumer, Research Fellow at Leeds Arts University and Fabio Franz, PhD candidate at the Sheffield School of Architecture, created Hospital(ity) School in Southern Italy. Working collaboratively with civic actors in Italy including: Matteo de Checchi and Valentina Benvenuti of Collettivo Mamadou, a collective of Italian teachers; architects Lionella Biancon, Francesca Bonadiman and Michele Rossa of the collective AREA 527; and fair trade orange producers SOS Rosarno, Hospital(ity) School was designed to support exploited and abused orange pickers of mostly West-African origin living in slums in southern Italy.

Image: Hospital(ity) School, courtesy of Bianca Elzenbaumer and Fabio Franz

Hospital(ity) School now hosts Italian classes, legal and job advice sessions and health education meetings. As a result of their participation in the collaborative building process, some of the refugees were empowered to create professional opportunities for themselves, such as Komivi Sowanou, a Togolese artist who is now selling his art work internationally. Apart from Komivi Sowanou, the core-team of builders was composed by carpenters Haruna Barr from Gambia, Douglas Imasuem from Nigeria, Samuel Kwokam Funtim from Cameroon, Ablaye Mboup from Senegal and engineer Thierry Lucien Mbouli Obama from Cameroon.

The building process was entirely crowd-funded and supported through material donations such as by the Austrian wood company Mayr-Melnhof Holz and the Italian companies Rothoblaas (screws) and Lattonerie Revolti (roofing). In five months over 100 volunteers, both Italian citizens and refugees, contributed to the building sessions with over 3000 hours of volunteer work.

Image: Hospital(ity) School, courtesy of Bianca Elzenbaumer and Fabio Franz

The Times Higher Education International Impact Award recognises an institution that, through the efforts of its staff, students and graduates, has had a significant and demonstrable impact on the world at large. 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. Describing her experience of UK higher education as “life-changing” and the support from her tutors as “unmatched”, with their encouragement, Ria was able to establish the charity Make Love Not Scars whilst still in the final year of her degree at Leeds Arts University.

Make Love Not Scars continues to go from strength to strength and has now helped more than 75 acid attack victims. Ria’s work it has attracted global attention and recognition; in 2017 Ria was recognised at the India Today Woman Summit with a Women in Public Service Award, she received the CNBC India Business Leader Award and was named one of Forbes ‘30 Under 30 Asia 2018’. Recently, she became the first ever Indian to receive a United Nations Goalkeepers Global Goals Leadership Award!

Image: Ria Sharma (right) holds The Leadership Award with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Priyanka Chopra after it was presented on Tuesday 19 September 2017 ©UNICEF/UN0123804/Pietrasik

Professor Randall Whittaker, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Academic, said:

“To be shortlisted for two Times Higher Education Awards is an incredible achievement, recognising the global significance of the work of our staff, students and alumni.

Leeds Arts University places great value on the creation of research and teaching environments that enable social engagement and international collaborations to thrive and we are honoured to be recognised in this way.”

Commonly known as the 'Oscars of Higher Education', The Times Higher Education Awards, now in their 14th year, attract entries from universities across the country and recognise the best in talent, dedication and innovation the higher education sector has to offer.

John Gill, Times Higher Education editor, said:

"Times Higher Education is extremely proud to host these awards once again. 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."

The Times Higher Education Awards will be announced at a gala ceremony held in London on 29 November 2018. Find out more and see the full shortlist here.