ABSTRACTThis research explores student voice and student perceptions of teaching excellence in higher education, and authors suggest implications for student engagement and student/staff partnerships in teaching and learning. Edinburgh University Students’ Association facilitates the longest-running student-led teaching awards in the UK, receiving 2000–3000 open-ended student nominations annually which raise the profile of teaching and reward strong teachers. These extensive qualitative data were analysed using aspects of a grounded theory approach to investigate student perceptions of teaching excellence. This research identified four key themes of teaching excellence: (1) concerted, visible effort; (2) commitment to engaging students; (3) breaking down student-teacher barriers; (4) stability of support. This paper explores these themes with respect to theoretical work on teaching excellence and suggests that students’ perceptions of excellence in teaching and student support advance notions of ‘critical excellence’ and ‘moral excellence’.