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The Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, Professor Chris Husbands, has been awarded a knighthood in the Queen's birthday honours list for his services to higher education.

After being the first in his family to attend university and beginning his career as a teacher in urban comprehensive schools, Sir Chris has held leadership positions in four UK universities.  He has played a pioneering role in driving forward improvements to the quality of teaching in higher education nationally and internationally.

In 2016 the Government appointed him as the inaugural Chair of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) which aims to improve the quality of teaching throughout the sector. He has also advised local and national governments across the world.

As Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam since January 2016, Sir Chris leads one of the UK’s largest universities, committed to a vision of becoming the world's leading applied university, creating educational opportunities for people from all backgrounds and communities. Last year, Sheffield Hallam admitted more undergraduate students from neighbourhoods across the country with historically low numbers going on to university than any other provider in the UK.

Under his leadership, Sheffield Hallam has seen an increase in its standing within sector league tables and the University has also launched a range of new regional projects with the aim of improving social mobility, health and the local economy across the Sheffield City Region.

From 2011 to 2015, Sir Chris was director of the Institute of Education at the University College London where he became vice provost for academic development. The Institute of Education was rated first in the world for education in the QS university rankings in 2014, 2015 and 2016, and was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2015.

Responding to the announcement, Sir Chris, said: "I am extremely humbled to accept this honour. I’ve been extremely fortunate: I’ve had a career beyond the imaginings of my parents and grandparents and that's down to the exceptional people who, at the time, created opportunities for youngsters like me.

"The higher education I experienced changed my life, and, through that, changed the way my children thought about what was possible for them. Opportunity echoes through generations just as lack of opportunity does. It’s this, the great transformative potential of a university, which is one of the things which shaped me, and continues to drive me."

Lord Bob Kerslake, Chair of the Board of Governors at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “This is a richly deserved honour. I am delighted for Chris and his family. It is proper recognition for his very significant contribution to Higher Education. I am sure that everyone at Hallam will welcome this.”

Receiving OBEs in this year's honours are Professors Laura Serrant and Sam Twiselton for their services to health and education.

Laura is a professor of nursing in Sheffield Hallam's Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. She was named as one of the UK's most influential people of African and Caribbean heritage in the 2018 Powerlist. Professor Serrant qualified as a nurse in 1986 from the then Sheffield City Polytechnic (now Sheffield Hallam University) and was the first person in her family to go to university. Professor Serrant is also one of Sheffield Hallam's leading academics in nursing, with an exceptional career as a researcher, clinician and policy adviser. She has been recognised for her work on health disparities, and on supporting the needs of marginalised communities, which has directly informed policy development in the UK and internationally.

Prof. Sir Chris Husbands
Prof. Laura Serrant OBE
Prof. Sam Twiselton OBE

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Named as one of the most inspirational women in healthcare by the Health Services Journal, Professor Serrant is one of only six black professors of nursing in the UK. She is also chair of the Chief Nursing Officer for England's BME Strategic Advisory Group, a member of the Government's independent advisory group on black and minority ethnic issues and an ambassador for the Equality Challenge Unit for Higher Education.

“Receiving this OBE for my work on health policy is an honour," said Professor Serrant. "My contribution is one of many made by BME nurses to healthcare which has been made even more special in 2018 as we celebrate the NHS' 70th birthday and 70 years since Empire Windrush brought black people from the Caribbean to rebuild the country post-war. I would like to dedicate this award to my parents who travelled from Dominica to do the same. It is through their endeavours that I am here.”

Professor Sam Twiselton is one of the UK’s leading academics in teacher education and has directly influenced government policy around teacher training and development. She was a member of the advisory panel for the Department for Education (DfE) Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training in England, through which she visited providers, met with experts and analysed a wide range of evidence from across all routes.

Professor Twiselton founded and established the University's Sheffield Institute of Education as a leading national centre of education research and practice and it is now one of the UK's top five providers of teachers with over 700 new teachers entering the classroom each year.

With 40% of the Institute's students drawn from low-income backgrounds, Professor Twiselton is passionate about tackling inequality and her Partnerships for Attainment initiative, set up in response to low educational attainment in the Sheffield City Region, directly supports the recruitment, development and retention of a high-quality teacher workforce. She also helped establish the University's South Yorkshire Futures initiative, a collaborative programme designed to improve educational attainment and aspiration for the region's young people.  

Professor Twiselton said: "I am equally delighted and proud on behalf of Sheffield Hallam to receive this award. It is the support I have been given by University that made it possible and I am very grateful. My only regret is that my mum who died in August did not live to brag about it to anyone who would listen."

For press information: Sarah Duce in the Sheffield Hallam University press office on 0114 225 4025 or email