Dr Sarah Fawcett said the award "brought genuine tears to [her] eyes"Louis Ashworth/VARSITY

The winners of the Cambridge Student Union (SU) Student-Led Teaching Awards (SLTAs) were announced this week (13/05).

The awards reward outstanding teaching and student support across the University and Colleges. The SLTAs are led by students and rely solely on the feedback and testimonials of students at the University.

The event is an opportunity for students to recognise the contribution of both academic and non-academic staff, as well as the type of teaching and support they value most.

Nine categories were introduced this year for students to submit their nominations under. These were Innovating Teaching, Inclusive Practice, Lecturer, Small-Group Teaching (Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences), Small-Group Teaching (Science & Technology), Postgraduate Research Supervisor, Student Support by a Member of Academic Staff, Student Support by a Member of Non-Academic Staff and Working in Partnership with Students.

Many staff members have been awarded for their efforts to improve teaching. The winner of the award for Inclusive Practice was Professor of French Linguistics and Language Change Mari C Jones. Jones told Varsity: “I am mindful that we all have different attitudes towards the risks posed by Covid-19 and I did not want any of my students to feel they had to do anything they felt uncomfortable with – I did not want students unable to return to Cambridge to feel left behind, or disadvantaged in any way and, equally, I did not want students who had returned to Cambridge to feel that they had to visit libraries if they felt at all anxious about doing so.”

She added: “I asked the MMLL library to buy and make available electronic versions of as many of the readings and texts as possible. She also noted: “When lecturing, I try to ensure my practice is always inclusive of students with SPLDs by incorporating a number of straightforward good practice strategies.”

Fellow of Trinity College and Reader in South Asian and Iranian Archaeology Dr Cameron Petrie, who won the award for Innovating Teaching, told Varsity that he had introduced a flipped classroom to his teaching. “For me the teaching this year was collaborative and interactive, and involved a lot more student group work than we would normally try,” Petrie said.

The award “actually brought genuine tears to my eyes,” said Dr Sarah Fawcett, Clinical Research Training Fellow at Girton College, having come highly commended in the awards. “The nomination itself was all the reward I needed and I was so incredibly touched that my students took the time and effort to put my name forward.”


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Dr Jagjit Singh Srai, Head of the Centre for International Manufacturing at Department of Engineering Institute for Manufacturing, won the award for Working in Partnership with Students. Srai has facilitated students who have been working in collaboration with the local Sikh Temple (Gurdwara) to feed the homeless in the city, raise funds for charity and lead religious events while many were isolating.

“University staff and students have become an integral part of the functioning of the local Gurdwara and have formed a close community, supporting each other and also those in need, of whatever background,” Dr Srai said. “My modest role has been to connect, facilitate and stimulate the wonderful student talent into community action.”

Dr Srai told Varsity that he was “delighted” to receive the award from the Sikh students at Cambridge. “As in all partnerships, this award is equally attributable to the extraordinary contribution of the students and volunteers themselves, in what has been a very challenging year.”

“During this time, many students had been isolated from friends and family, and it has been a great pleasure to help create a supportive environment for these students here at Cambridge.”