HEA reform misguided

June 29, 2007

As an elected member of the Higher Education Academy council and previously the council of the Institute of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, I too was in the minority that voted against the changes proposed for restructuring the council ("Laments for the HEA", Letters, June 22).

Since its inauguration three years ago, the HEA has launched several good initiatives that I have strongly supported. But on this occasion, I couldn't.

At first glance, the proposals put forward for membership changes to the academic council look reasonable and draw on all key constituencies of the academy, including two student representatives. However, closer scrutiny shows the proposed council to be a much smaller membership than previously and seriously reduces the number of elected representatives from registered practitioners.

As a member of the ILTHE council when a merger with the subject centres and the Higher Education Statistics Agency into the new Higher Education Academy was being considered, it was my understanding that the principles and ethos of the ILTHE would be carried forward into the new body; hence my approval for the merger.

After careful consideration, I voted against the recent recommendations because the proposed new council has too many "chiefs" and not enough "Indians".

Phillip Burgess and Paul Hudson are quite correct in saying "the HEA needs reform, but it needs more frontline teachers, not fewer: more democracy not less", especially if the potentially large and wide-ranging electorate of practitioners is to continue to have confidence about its influence and active involvement with the HEA.

Mike Tribe
Sussex University

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