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The AUA Invisible Grail Prize: ‘Thought Pieces’ for the HE Sector Why do we do what we do? – Finding our purpose

Submission deadline
31 August 2020

For several years the AUA has awarded writing prizes for outstanding pieces published in Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education. From 2019 our competition partnered with a new sponsor, Invisible Grail, an organisation which provides consultancy and courses for people working in higher education who are passionate about using their leadership and narrative to enable all to lead to their full potential. More information is available at: www.invisiblegrail.com.

Our sponsors have provided a prize fund to be used to recognise excellent Thought Pieces which have the potential to benefit people and their institutions across the UK higher education sector. We may use this to award one or more prizes. In November 2019 we made four awards. All the pieces are published in our journal (issue 24:1).

The first prize was awarded to Lydia McGill from the University of Winchester. Lydia has worked there for four years, currently as a Department Co-ordinator. Please read her piece: ‘Start-up company: how and why universities should nurture student friendships from day one’.

The Challenge

We are looking for writing that is intended to be thought-provoking, practical, but possibly speculative. We would expect to see background material, personal opinion, and analysis. We invite short pieces on Why do we do what we do? – Finding our purpose’. The maximum length is 2,500 words including any references or footnotes. Submissions may be shorter than this where appropriate. The closing date is 31 August 2020.

We have moved away from using the term ‘essay prize’ because we think this suggests a written form that is too prescriptive. It is not necessary to include the ‘academic apparatus’ of an essay – footnotes, references, bibliography. Some of this might be necessary but this depends on the author and the interpretation of the subject.

We have no preconceptions about how this subject might be interpreted. We simply wish to encourage colleagues, especially in the professional services which support our HE colleges and universities, to reflect on their experience and to share it through our pages. In particular we look for pieces that will help colleagues working in professional services to understand how motivation works for individuals and teams. Case studies are welcomed.

Who can enter?

Our prospective authors might already be members of AUA (the Association of University Administrators) but this is not a requirement. However, all authors should be aware that the target reader is most likely to be part of our organisation. 

Authors who are based outside the UK are eligible to participate. We welcome thought pieces from colleagues in other countries but such authors should be aware that the prize fund will reward work that is focussed on UK HE.

All short-listed pieces will be published in our quarterly journal Perspectives. The journal has an international readership, but our core constituency is the AUA membership.

How to make an entry?

We invite anybody interested in making a submission to contact the AUA office by email: [email protected] to ask for further details about how to enter the competition.