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Work by the University of Leicester, with the help of local communities in Leicester, that identified an increased risk of COVID-19 to ethnic minority populations is one of four nominations for the university in this year’s prestigious Times Higher Education Awards.

The nominations for the awards, widely recognised as the ‘Oscars of higher education’, also include worldwide efforts to decode Charles Dickens’s unread texts, as well as two staff members who have played a leading role in their professions.

Picture: University of Leicester

The winners will be revealed at a glittering ceremony in London on November 17 2022.

Research by Professor Kamlesh Khunti with University and NHS colleagues into understanding how COVID-19 has disproportionately affected ethnic minority populations has been nominated for the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community. Throughout 2020 and 2021 they led world-class COVID-19 research and interventions that have benefited the local, national and international community.

Professor Kamlesh Khunti, from the University’s Department of Health Sciences, said: “It’s a real honour to be shortlisted for this award, however, the work involved a number of individuals who dedicated their time during the pandemic including from the University of Leicester, University Hospitals of Leicester, local public health services and most of all, our local community.”

Picture: Kamlesh Khunti

Also nominated was ‘The Dickens Code’, led by Dr Claire Wood in the School of Arts in collaboration with Professor Hugo Bowles at the University of Foggia, for Research Project of the Year: Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Charles Dickens is a giant of English literature, yet there are texts in Dickens’ own hand that remain unread, written in an adapted form of shorthand. To solve this 150-year-old mystery, they combined the efforts of the Dickens Decoders – volunteers from across the world with an interest in puzzles and codes – with contextual research by academics to enable crowd-created transcription of two of Dickens’ mysterious shorthand texts.

Staff at the University have also been recognised for their achievements.

Professor John Goodwin from the Department of Sociology nominated for Outstanding Research Supervisor of the Year for a prolific career in supervising research students in sociology and related disciplines, while technician Gemma Black’s support and championing of its technical staff is recognised in the Outstanding Technician of the Year category. 

THE editor John Gill said: “This is the 18th year that the THE Awards will celebrate the best that UK higher education has to offer, across 20 categories covering all aspects of university activity.

“Once again, the shortlists reflect universities doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times, during the 2020-21 academic year, when the pandemic continued to force higher education and all who work in it to respond to an unprecedented challenge.

“That universities did so with alacrity and creativity is clear from the truly exceptional stories told in the awards submissions, and we had over 550 in all – among the highest number ever.

“All of us at THE are looking forward to celebrating with those shortlisted when we get together for the ‘Oscars of higher education’ in November.”

To read the full shortlist for the Times Higher Education Awards, visit:

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