International project wins Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence

05 August 2019

Professor Bob Gilmour and Dr Caroline Gallagher (respectively furthest right and left) with PEETS participants in Finland.

Professor Bob Gilmour and Dr Caroline Gallagher (respectively furthest right and left) with PEETS participants in Finland.

Judges have recognised a “ground breaking” University learning project giving students access to “life-changing” experiences with a national teaching excellence award.

The International Study Period Promoting Excellence in Employability and Transversal Skills (PEETS) was one of just 15 projects at UK universities to receive the prestigious Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence from Advance HE.

PEETS leader, Professor Bob Gilmour, in the School of Computing, Engineering and Built Environment, said he was absolutely thrilled at the accolade. “Naturally the whole team are over the moon. National recognition of the excellence we have evidenced, builds upon the very positive feedback from our stakeholders – our students and independent project evaluators in particular – and this means so much to us. It inspires us to develop further transformational and innovative teaching initiatives.”

The PEETS programme is managed by GCU and was developed in collaboration with Lahti University of Applied Sciences, The Hague University of Applied Sciences and Industry Partner Constructionarium Scotland Ltd. Funding has come from the British Council and the European Union. Feedback from judges highlighted the unique and ambitious nature of the project which they said was providing an innovative model for other international collaborations and enriching the employability prospects of students and the career experiences of staff.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic, Professor Valerie Webster, said: “This is wonderful recognition for the University and the team are to be commended for their creativity and hard work. This Award reflects the University's commitment to delivering the best possible experience for our students. It’s particularly satisfying the judges recognised how PEETS is clearly aligned to our University’s mission and successfully combined the goals of our academic and industrial partners to create positive learning outcomes for students.” 

The PEETS programme is a six-month learning experience that includes a 10-day intensive course for third-year students interested in environmental issues with either technical (engineering), business or marketing backgrounds.

Former student Joanne McKenzie, who is now employed as an Environmental Consultant, said it had been a huge boost to her personal development. “Taking part in PEETS helped me gain an understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses, helping me look beyond boundaries that I had set myself. The skills I learned working with people from different backgrounds and cultures has helped me make connections in the workplace. To this day I still find myself drawing on those experiences encouraging myself to face new challenges.”

Dr Ben Calvert, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of South Wales and Chair of the 2019 Teaching Excellence Awards Advisory Panel, said: “These awards really are the pinnacle of reward and recognition in teaching and learning. The 2019 winners are rightly proud of their achievements and I am sure they will continue to share their knowledge as individuals and teams so that their institutions, colleagues and the wider higher education sector can benefit from their expertise.”

The PEETS team will receive their awards alongside other winners at a special ceremony on October 16 in Manchester.