THE way a York university cared for students during the pandemic is one of the reasons it has been shortlisted for a top award.

The University of York is in the running for University of the Year in the Times Higher Education (THE) Awards 2021.

The category recognises institutions that have demonstrated "exceptional performance" during the 2019-20 academic year.

In particular, the judging panel were looking for evidence of "bold, imaginative and innovative initiatives" and examples of creative leadership and management during the year.

The university's shortlisted submission included a package of support measures for staff and students impacted by the pandemic, from 'lockdown loot' to the 6,000 welfare emails and phone calls we made to self-isolating students.

It also included details of the emergency student support fund - the first University to set one up which resulted in £2 million being allocated to students thanks to generous donations from alumni and friends.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said: "I have always been proud of how our community came together to respond to the pandemic.

"By looking out for each other and by working with our partners across the city and beyond, we showed how a community can channel this spirit of empathy and support into something extraordinary.

"Our shortlisting reflects a very proud moment, of a university and its city coming together to respond to a global crisis in the best way it can."

The winners of the awards, which are known as the 'Oscars of higher education,' will be announced in November.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Leader of City of York Council and Chair of the York Outbreak Management Advisory Board, welcomed the shortlisting.

He said: "It is great news for the city that the university has been recognised in this way.

"Our collaborative approach has been essential in keeping people in the city safe and continues as we all look to help York recover from the pandemic."

Times Higher Education editor, John Gill, said: "This year's awards will reflect a period of turmoil and innovation necessitated by the pandemic, making it quite unlike any previous year.

"For the first time this year, we have also extended our awards to include higher education institutions in Ireland, and we are delighted to say that we have had a record number of entries, reflecting the brilliance of universities across the whole of the UK and Ireland.

"With almost 600 nominations, it really is a fantastic achievement to make it onto this year's shortlist.

"We look forward to celebrating the incredible response of university staff in exceptionally tough circumstances when we gather for the Oscars of higher education in November."

Patrick O'Donnell, President of University of York Students' Union, said: "I am delighted that York has been shortlisted, it truly reflects the vibrant, supportive and inclusive community we celebrate at York.

"Despite all the challenges faced over the last 18 months, students and staff have worked together to ensure that campus life has continued to thrive, and that all members of our University community are supported.

"We can be very proud of all that we have achieved by working together to seek creative and innovative solutions, with students at the heart of decision making."