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2021 PIEoneer Award winners revealed at hybrid London gala

The fifth iteration of The PIEoneer Awards has recognised the success, achievement and innovation of 21 individuals, companies and associations and their work supporting international students and leading the international education sector during 2020.

Over 200 virtual attendees joined the 360 education professionals who attended live in London. Photo: Roger Harris

A surprise Lifetime impact award announced on the night recognised the work of Arlene Griffiths

Judged by a panel of 43 international education experts, 21 winners spanning seven countries and all varieties of educator and service provider were awarded top gongs in 19 categories in a year where the sector has been severely hampered by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a competitive year, the 21 winners were selected from more than 430 entries. Additionally, 25 finalists were recognised as highly commended in their respective categories.

Headline awards recognised Universities UK International director Vivienne Stern for her Outstanding contribution to the industry – she has had a positive impact on the outcome of key legislation for UK international education, since being appointed in 2014. The most notable among her achievements has been work towards the graduate visa route and the recent Turing Scheme announcement.

“We had so many entries that demonstrated a quick pivot and forced innovation to support students”

TAFE Queensland in Australia was named PIEoneer of the year for its Australian Pacific Training Coalition. In a highly competitive field, the institution was crowned winner for delivering Australian qualifications in various vocational areas aligned to employment opportunities for Pacific Island citizens. APTC’s goal is to contribute towards a more productive workforce that enhances Pacific Prosperity.

Two categories saw joint winners, with the Digital innovation of the year – learning award going to both EHL, Switzerland – for its Virtual Housekeeping Class and VictoryXR, US – for a VR and AR-augmented learning “metaverse”.

The Student support award recognised both Study NSW, also in Australia, for its International Student Temporary Crisis Accommodation Scheme, and Kaplan Business School Australia’s COVID-19 Student Welfare Plan.

This same award also recognised the Institute of International Education in the US and iCent in Canada as highly commended, which organisers highlighted as appropriate in a year where infrastructure to help and protect students has been so vital.

Amy Baker, CEO of The PIE, commented, “We had so many entries that demonstrated a quick pivot and forced innovation to support students – learning via VR, remote internships, the mobilisation of an app to check in daily with students while they quarantine.. and ambassador communities springing up – these are just some of the examples of the amazing pioneering work we got to read about. 

“Thanks to our 43 judges, we are able to celebrate just some of the impressive innovation and dedication displayed by our peers in the industry.”

A surprise Lifetime impact award announced on the night recognised the work of Arlene Griffiths, who has previously held leadership positions at IDP Education and the British Council as well as Cardiff University.

And for Student Counselling Organisation of the year award, Mexico-based Blue Ivy Consulting scooped the award for the second time. In 2020, Blue Ivy launched operations in eight countries: USA, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Nicaragua, and Bolivia. It was one of many companies evidencing huge commitment to students in a turbulent year.

The winners were announced at a glamorous and hybrid event held at London’s historic Guildhall on September 3 – over 200 virtual attendees joined the 360 education professionals who attended live in London. 

The full list of winners and highly commended of The PIEoneer Awards 2021

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