AUA Essay Prize | past and future

In 2018 we invited essays and articles that considered the challenges and rewards of managing change in higher education. Five pieces were short-listed, and of those five, AUA member Esther Bray, a Projects Officer at Brunel University, was runner up with her piece Managing change successfully: a case study at Brunel University London


AUA: What made you decide to enter the Essay Prize Competition?

Esther: The theme sounded really interesting and pretty much sums up what I do as a project manager, so I was keen to share my experiences and highlight some of the project work I’ve been involved in at Brunel.

AUA: How did it feel to know that your piece had won a prize?

Esther: I was delighted! It’s always nice when your hard work is recognised, and I was pleased I had written something people had found interesting and helpful.

AUA: What advice would you give to AUA members who were thinking of entering the next competition?

Esther: Take the opportunity to express yourself and write about something you feel passionate about – and don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet a bit in the process.



The AUA Invisible Grail Prize 2020

‘Thought Pieces’ for the HE Sector | Creating Connections

Over the last five years the AUA has awarded prizes for outstanding essays published in Perspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education. From 2020 our competition is in partnership with a new sponsor, Invisible Grail, an organisation which provides consultancy and courses for HE professionals who care about the power of the written word and narrative. More information is available at the Invisible Grail website.

Our sponsors have provided a prize fund to be used to recognise excellent Thought Pieces which have the potential to benefit people and their institutions across the UK higher education sector. We may use this to award one or more prizes, with the best piece awarded £1000.

The Challenge

We are looking for writing that is intended to be thought-provoking and possibly speculative. We would expect to see background material, personal opinion, and analysis. We invite short pieces on ‘Creating Connections’ that have practical problem-solving relevance. The maximum length is 2,500 words including any references or footnotes. Submissions may be shorter than this where appropriate.

We have moved away from using the term ‘essay prize’ because we think this suggests a written form that is too prescriptive. It is not necessary to include the ‘academic apparatus’ of an essay – footnotes, references, bibliography. Some of this might be necessary but this depends on the author and the interpretation of the subject.

Prospective authors may find it helpful to consult a 2015 publication published by CIPD: ‘Changing HR operating models: a collection of thought pieces’,

We have no preconceptions about how the subject ‘Creating Connections’ might be interpreted. We simply wish to encourage colleagues, especially in the professional services which support our HE colleges and universities, to reflect on their experience and to share it through our pages.

Who can enter?

Our prospective authors might already be members of AUA but this is not a requirement. However, all authors should be aware that the target reader is most likely to be part of our organisation.

Authors who are based outside the UK are eligible to participate. We welcome thought pieces from colleagues in other countries but such authors should be aware that the prize fund will reward work that is focused on UK HE.

All short-listed pieces will be published in our quarterly journal Perspectives. The journal has an international readership but our core constituency is the AUA membership.

How to make an entry?

We invite anybody interested in making a submission to contact the AUA office by email to ask for further details about how to enter the competition. The closing date is 31 August 2019. Results will be announced in early 2020.



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