Enhancement achievements

August 14, 2014

As the authors of the report on the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s role in teaching enhancement, we were disappointed that your article concentrated only on the weaknesses of the initiatives rather than the achievements (“ ‘Superficial’: £500m fails to develop class acts”, News, 31 July).

Our report clearly shows the significant importance of Hefce’s initiatives in signalling the centrality of teaching and learning in universities while also arguing that, as a whole, these initiatives lacked a cohesive strategy that would support sector-wide change. The report also stresses the importance of Hefce’s continued role in this area in the future.

However, in her letter, Madeleine Atkins (Letters, 7 August) also misinterprets one of our comments. We do not suggest that Hefce works or should work directly with everyday university teachers. Rather we argue that if teaching and learning enhancement initiatives are to be successful, they need to have a sustained impact on day-to-day teaching across the sector. This is a very different point and is one that is recognised in Hefce’s own “future principles of enhancement”, which highlight the belief that “enhancement should be a mainstream activity for all institutions”.

Paul Ashwin, Murray Saunders and Paul Trowler
Centre for Higher Education Research and Evaluation
Lancaster University

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