Winning the 2015 Award for Outstanding Higher Education Journalism from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Education & Skills Group is something of a triumph after an interesting year.

I was shortlisted along with national journalists from The Guardian and Times Higher Education magazine and won the Higher Education Journalism Award for a feature for the BBC online Knowledge Economy series titled ‘Can Lithuania turn brain drain into brain gain’.

This told the story of increasing migration trends from East to West Europe from the viewpoint of a country losing so many of their brightest young people and the impact this is having on Lithuanian universities and its own knowledge economy.

Since setting-up De la Cour Communications in 2012, this is just the sort of area I wanted to highlight.

Thrilled to win after cancer fight

What thrills me most about wining is that I was battling cancer at the time and wrote and researched the feature in between radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment and waiting for my bowel cancer operation.

It was a shame I couldn’t be at November’s CIPR Education Journalism Awards 2015 in person to collect the prize, but I’m still undergoing chemo to zap any last remnants of the cancer and was advised against being in crowded places as my immune system is down.

Sean Coughlan, my editor at BBC Knowledge Economy, has been very supportive.

I told him at last year’s Awards I was about to start my battle against cancer and he asked if I’d like to write for his popular Knowledge Economy series, which offers a global perspective on education.

“Well-deserved” says BBC editor

Sean Coughlan, editor of BBC Knowledge Economy

Sean Coughlan, editor of BBC Knowledge Economy

Sean kindly wrote that the award was well-deserved, saying: “It’s great that Nic has been acknowledged for some well-written, well-researched journalism into what is a huge and hugely important subject area.

“It’s the kind of specialist journalism, with a thoughtful analysis, that people really want.

“When there is such an abundance of often unfiltered information all around, it’s more important than ever to have journalism which can highlight what it is significant.”

Sean added: “It’s also another win in the awards for the BBC. I was very proud to receive the Ted Wragg Award for ‘sustained contribution to education journalism award’ last year and was particularly proud, because the last BBC correspondent to win was the great Mike Baker.”

EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

EUPRIO President Christine Legrand

Others to send congratulations included Christine Legrand, President of EUPRIO, the European university network of PR communicators, for which Nic regularly writes.

She said: “It is invaluable, in French ‘précieux’, to have somebody like Nic Mitchell who follows, understands and writes on higher education like he does.”

Simon Butt-Bethlendy, Chair of the CIPR Education & Skills Group, said: “The quality of entries this year was, I think, higher than ever before – and we had a record number – so I was delighted the judges recognised the excellence of Nic’s piece.”

Main photo: Nic Mitchell with the 2015 CIPR Award. Picture by Emily Hughes.