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Brian May Awards

Brian May Awards

The Brian May Access to Higher Education Learner Awards were launched in 2019 in memory of a dear colleague. Brian worked for Open College Network West Midlands between 2010 and 2016 firstly as a moderator and centre reviewer before acting as access adviser. Thoughtful and erudite, Brian brought his substantial knowledge and experience to his work, guiding tutors through the rigours of Access to HE course delivery and helping to improve the content of the Diplomas and, therefore, the learner outcomes.

To date, over 135 learners have received an award. Each year, our centres are invited to nominate learners within two categories: Outstanding Academic Achievement and Outstanding Commitment to Study.

View the 2023 Winners here

Students proposed in this category should have excelled in their academic study by producing assessed work of a consistently outstanding quality whilst on their Access courses. 

Supporting Statement

For ‘Outstanding academic achievement’ the statement should contain enough commentary and detail about the range and type of work submitted by the student and their performance. Where possible this could include statements made by tutors in their feedback on the work.

Supporting Evidence

For ‘Outstanding academic achievement’ it is expected that close reference is made to one or more (up to a maximum of three) pieces of assessed work in the supporting statement and that a copy of that work be submitted in an electronic format. Scanned copies of hand written work or of word-processed work with handwritten tutor comments are required. No paper copies will be accepted.

All work submitted should be anonymised – the filename should include the AVA name and/or student name for matching documents to nominations but submitted work must have all identifying marks removed, including logos, student, tutor, provider and AVA names, etc. All nominations and pieces of work are anonymised for the judging process and if there are logos and/or other identifying marks remaining on feedback sheets, assignment briefs, etc, these may be excluded from the information supplied to the judges. Word documents of original student work and tutor feedback can be submitted.

Examples of work submitted as evidence might include copies of essays, projects, research, reports, artefacts produced by the student as recorded in photographs, video clips etc, recordings of student performance, personal writing (poems, stories, other texts).

Students in this category should have shown evidence of some or all the following:

  • Outstanding commitment to their Access studies, perhaps in the face of difficult and challenging personal circumstances

  • Having made an inspirational journey which demonstrates the life transforming power of learning

  • Individual achievement beyond standard expectations

  • Clear evidence of extra effort above and beyond that which would normally be required of a student 

Supporting Statement

The statement should be a detailed explanation of how the nominee meets the criteria in 2.2 above. It should give an indication of the types of barriers that the student overcame. It would also be helpful to identify any skills that the student displayed in pursuing his/her studies. Whilst the privacy of the student should be respected, it will help the panel of judges to assess the nomination, if some detail regarding the challenges facing the student and the way in which they met these challenges, is provided. For nominations in this category to be taken forward there must be a Personal Statement from the student themselves included with the nomination.

Applications for 2024

26 February - 26 July 2024: Nominations period

1 August 2024: Judging

August 2024: Shortlist announced

15 October 2024: Winners announced

Category winners will be announced at the AIM Conference and Awards event on Tuesday 15 October at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham. Each will be awarded a £600 bursary and certificate.

The winners from Outstanding Commitment to Study and the Outstanding Academic Achievement categories will automatically go through to the national 2025 Keith Fletcher Awards Prize.

Judges should:

  • have relevant and appropriate experience and understanding of the aims and objectives of the Access to HE Diploma
  • have no direct  interest in the nominations made from their region
  • have access to the internet and be able to open the relevant files and participate in the online scoring
  • be available to participate in the judging online between 4 December 2023 and 12 January 2024

An online scoring system and guidance will be circulated to judges.

  • Only one student should be nominated for each category per AVA.
  • Nominations must be received on the nomination forms to ensure consistency for judging.
  • An individual student can only be nominated for one category.
  • The decisions of the panel of judges will be final.
  • Each AVA should have obtained prior permission of the nominee for using his/her details in any subsequent publicity relating to the prizes.
  • In each category there will be a winner and a runner up.
  • The prize funds will be determined by dividing the contributions from each AVA (£200 per AVA) between the prize winners and runners up. The prize money will be spilt into two sections. The winners prize fund will consist of approximately 60% of the overall prize fund and the runners up prize fund will consist of the remaining 40%. The winners will then each receive half of the winning funds and the runners up will receive half of the runners up funds each. The prizes will be paid as cash or cheques.
  • The nominated learner should not be related to a nominee or be employed at an institution at which any of the nominees were taught.