Potential difference 2

July 8, 2005

The Higher Education Academy can champion the role of teaching by listening to Ron Barnett and Alan Jenkins.

The HEA board, dominated as it is by managerial and government interests, cannot be independent. HEA council, with its elected complement of registered practitioners, can champion academia, but only by taking seriously its duty as "the visible representation of the professional association within the academy".

The council must do more than work "with the academy to help it take forward the key items in its strategic plan". It is an integral part of the academy - the part with democratic legitimacy; the part, moreover, that primarily engages in educating students.

Higher education is not a commodity "delivered" by managers with strategic plans. It is a process in which students are transformed by practising academics.

Practitioners know which factors degrade the quality of the learning experience and which factors inhibit them from giving students the experiences they need. They know that many of these factors originate in the Government and in university management.

To be more than another quango purveying the management consulto-babble beloved of governments, the HEA must take its aims seriously and enhance the professional standing of staff.

Listening to them is part of this.

P. K. Burgess
Dundee University

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