Digital transformation has become a key priority for universities and colleges over the past few years which have been intensified by COVID-19 pandemic and the need to urgently transition to online learning. This award recognizes higher education institutions that successfully implemented digital transformation initiatives to solve challenges, operate more efficiently and/or offer a more comprehensive studentcentric learning experience that leverages on the use of technology.

This award aims at rewarding those institutions hat keep inspiring others to push the boundaries of higher education technology and innovation.

Selection Criteria:
Digital transformation is a journey that impacts on the entire complex higher educational ecosystem; it requires specific capabilities and well-crafted strategies that can be defined from different perspectives. Hence, the award will take into consideration the following criteria:

  • Digital Transformation Strategy: considers how the institution transforms or operates to increase its competitive advantage through digital initiatives and how is this integrated within its strategic priorities and plans.
  • Student Experience: reflects on how digital technologies has been adopted to create/ enhance a student centric learning experience; this involves but is not limited to new modes of digital delivery and student services digitally enabled.
  • Technology: looks at the digital technologies and innovation that have been harnessed to implement digital transformation and how they align to the institutional strategic priorities andconsiders aspects of equity.
  • Implementation & Results: considers the execution and sustainability of the digital transformation strategy and how digital technologies are driving and enhancing the student learning experience, the institutional strategic management and the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the institution.
  • Institutional Culture & Capacity Building: reflects on how the institution has developed an organisational culture to support digital transformation at all levels and how it strives to build capacity among different stakeholders


This award seeks to highlight the incredible achievements of higher education institutions that stands out when it comes to engaging with the community including: volunteerism, community based learning or research, outreach and fostering community partnership, and building institutional commitment to serving the community and public good.

HEIs submitting for this award must provide background about the community it is serving as well as the context of its activities prior to describing its activities and how it has involved students and staff to make a difference to the target community.

Selection Criteria:

  • Stakeholders’ Engagement: considers the extent to which the institution engages various stakeholders in community based activities and the sort of opportunities and incentives available for students, alumni and staff to participate to engage.
  • Significance and Needs: reflects on the extent to which institutional community- based activities focus on a specific community-identified need or opportunity.
  • Impact and Sustainability: looks into how HEIs demonstrate a long-term commitment to community engagement that is measurable, relevant, sustainable and which offers tangible long lasting benefits to the community. It also takes into consideration evidences of community satisfaction and the impact created on the community.
  • Institutional Culture: looks into how the institution has developed an organisational culture to support community engagement at all levels and how it strives to support various institutional stakeholders in engaging with the community.
  • Community Partnerships: emphasizes on long term partnerships and collaborations established to maximize its potential for community engagement.

This award recognizes higher education institutions which distinguish themselves through engaging in groundbreaking research that addresses real world challenges whether social, economic, political, cultural or other and that has made a meaningful impact in our communities or had significant impact on the field/ discipline. The awards recognize and celebrate achievements in research and highlight notable research activities by higher education institutions which had tangible benefit and impact. Evidence of exceptional performance against specific indicators such as research output, innovation, external funding, etc.

Selection Criteria:

  • Research Priorities & Strategy: This refers to the research key priorities identified by the institution and translated in its research agenda and which aim at solving local, regional or global problems or challenges in any disciplines and inclusive of all types of outcomes that solve problems (i.e., development of policy, product creation) or considerably impact the discipline.
  • Innovative Approaches: considers innovative approaches adopted by the institution to achieve real impact and how it can both sustain and grow its research.
  • Research Culture & Leadership: focuses on the established institutional culture and environment in support of research, the type of support available for research and scholarly activities and demonstrated vision and leadership for research.
  • Impact and Results: considers institutional research output (i.e. publications, citations, patents, external grants etc.) of the institution, it quality and the impact it had.
  • Research Partnerships and Collaborations: considers productive partnerships established within or outside of the sector to support the research priorities and agenda of the institution and for knowledge co-creation.

This award considers innovative and disruptive higher education institutions that stand out in their approach to shaping and re-imagining the future of higher to meet the challenges of the future.

This considers institutional level initiatives and projects that promote innovative and experimental approaches to education whether in relation to the design of new responsive, agile and non-traditional programs, or in re-inventing unique pedagogical ways and methods to teaching and learning that empowers learners, focuses on the 21st century skills and that is aligned to the employability and market needs.

HEIs applying for this award will need to provide at last three examples of programs/ projects as evidence that are seen as effective and efficient (if applicable) for the Institution and its context.

Selection Criteria:

  • Forward Looking: considers how higher education institutions are introducing new ideas in relation to programs and innovative approach to delivering learning while addressing problems od the 21st century and the extraordinary circumstances the sector is facing. It also looks into how these new ideas are translated into practice.
  • Relevance: considers how the initiative/ project is addressing a significant issue or problem within the context of a given country or region.
  • Transferable & Replicable: takes into consideration the possibility of transferring and replicating the initiative/ project (curriculum, pedagogical approaches, etc.) as a best practice in a different setting or context.
  • Effective & Impactful: looks into the success and tangible positive impact of the initiative/ project and the type of changes and transformations which have been noticed since its
  • Learners’ Empowerment: reflects on how the new initiative/ project empowers learners to succeed in a disruptive and evolving business landscape. It takes into consideration how the HEIs is preparing its learners for in-demand skills for the jobs of the future including but not limited to training them on thinking critically, becoming lifelong learners and developing agility that will enable them to adapt to new jobs of the future.

The rapid expansion of higher education over the past few years together with growing technological advancements that led to the emergence of new models of technology enabled education, have made higher education accessible to more students globally. Yet it has also created significant barriers for vulnerable groups. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has amplified issues surrounding access and inclusion as we have witnessed a widening of the digital divide triggered by inequality in access to technology among students at all level.

Making higher education more inclusive and accessible is embedded within the Sustainable Development Goals- SDGs 2030 (SDG 4) and perceived as one of the highest priorities of this decade that should be on the agenda of higher education institutions globally.

This award honours exemplary higher Education Institutions (HEIs) that embrace the value of equity and inclusion in their work and activities through sound leadership and well-articulated strategies. It takes into account how institutions are developing and implementing innovative concepts for maximizing access, equity and inclusion- in their curriculum, teaching practices, research, community work, student engagement and support and other core functions of the institution.

Institutional efforts that may be considered include but is not limited to : strategic initiatives and projects that are advocating diversity, access and equity; efforts made by the institution to foster a welcoming environment that is characterized by inclusivity and organizational equity; outreach, recruitment and retention efforts; the integration of innovative pedagogies that considers students’ differences and advances students’ understanding and commitment to equity and inclusion; programs that improve the institutional climate for minorities and vulnerable groups and advancing equity, diversity, and inclusion across research and innovation ecosystem among others.

Selection Criteria:

  • Institutional commitment: looks into the institutional short- and long-term commitment to provide and advance equitable and inclusive access to education and to cater diversity in students, faculty and staff in line with its mission and strategic priorities in order to addresses inequalities and identify pathways to resolve them. It takes into consideration how institutions exemplify the vision and ideals of inclusivity and equity.
  • Institutional Initiatives: describes the extraordinary evidence- based efforts (i.e. projects, programs, initiatives, etc.), achievement and commitment to engaging in promoting and practicing access, inclusion and equity, such work should demonstrate outstanding leadership that is collaborative, sustainable, and must be linked to the institution’s vision, mission and strategic priorities.
  • Relevance: considers how the initiative/ project is addressing a significant issue or problem within the context of a given country or region.
  • Impact and Sustainability: looks into how HEIs demonstrate a long-term commitment to equity and inclusion that is measurable, relevant, sustainable and impactful. It takes into consideration how the institution evaluates its work in this area and what measurable outcomes are resulting from such activities.
  • Transferable & Replicable: takes into consideration the possibility of transferring and replicating the initiative(s)/ project(s) undertaken by the institution as a best practice in a different setting or context.

This award recognizes higher education institutions that are making significant,
well-planned, well-executed, impactful and sustainable internationalization efforts while embracing innovative and creative approaches.

It recognizes and celebrate the outstanding contributions of HEIs that are demonstrating institutional commitment to excellence and leadership in internationalization.

Selection Criteria:

Internationalization in higher education requires specific strategies, plans, capabilities and resources that enables the achievement of impactful internationalization agendas and activities. In evaluating the applications, the following criteria will be taking into consideration:


  • Internationalization Strategy: Looks into the institutional strategy and roadmap through which the institution leverages on internationalization to increase its competitive advantage and position itself globally through different projects, programs and initiatives and how such efforts are evident in the institution’s mission, strategic priorities, plans and results. It takes into account how sustainable development factors have been integrated in the institutional internationalization strategy.

  • Institutional Efforts: considers institutional projects, initiatives and efforts undertaken to support the institutional internationalization agenda including but not limited to international student enrolment, international faculty recruitment, international capacity building, faculty and student exchange programs, opportunities for faculty and students to access international experiences, campus experience for international students, establishment of international branch campuses and educational hubs and the internationalization of research, knowledge creation and dissemination. It also looks at what institutions do to integrate internationalization into the curriculum and the overall student experience.

  • Impact and Sustainability: explores how the institution demonstrates its long-term commitment to internationalization that is measurable, relevant, sustainable and which offers tangible long lasting benefits to the institution and the community as a whole. It also takes into account how institutions continuously assess and measure progress and impact in this area.

  • Partnership and Outreach: takes into consideration how HEIs have developed successful strategic partnerships and cultivated external relations that contribute to international efforts. Which internationalization models were developed through partnerships and what have they achieved; and how is the institution effectively and efficiently implementing such strategic partnerships?

  • Institutional Culture: looks into how the institution has developed an organisational culture that supports internationalization at all levels; how does it reward such efforts and how are various stakeholders actively participate in planning, nurturing, and growing the depth and breadth of internationalization throughout the institution and its different activities.