Design by default

May 15, 2008

I'm confused! At what point did the funding councils award a curriculum design mission to the Joint Information Systems Committee? Or has this happened by default when no one was watching? Jisc's recent circular (Institutional Approaches to Curriculum Design) dangles the prospect of £5 million with up to 12 institutions' projects being funded to the tune of £400,000 each (www.jisc.ac.uk/fundingopportunities/funding_calls/2008/04/circular508.aspx).

There are a number of worrying issues related to this call. First, exactly how is the wider sector going to benefit from such an exclusive model that aims to allocate about £5 million to just 12 institutions? Are these meant to become quasi-centres of excellence that will show the rest of the sector what is possible when you enjoy such funding? Second, is it really appropriate that the boundaries of Jisc activities become extended in this way when there are other agencies and bodies in the sector that could perhaps offer a more appropriate lead in this area? Third, what consultation with other agencies and bodies did Jisc undertake before launching what is, after all, a major funded initiative?

One is left with a sense that here is an organisation that has enjoyed a significant level of public funding to develop and maintain the sector's essential information infrastructure far in excess of what is required to deliver on its core mission.

Annita D'Arcy, London.

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