What for the HEA?

February 11, 2016

The very existence of the Higher Education Academy seems so central to the Green Paper’s proposals to construct a teaching excellence framework that it is bewildering to find only a scattering of mentions of it in the Green Paper, none of them concerned with the value of its work in “enhancing teaching quality in higher education”, as it claims to do. Until recently, the HEA enjoyed Higher Education Funding Council for England funding on a much grander scale than other sector bodies, but that has now been cut. The vice-chancellors of England do not seem disposed to allow their institutions to become its replacement funders (“UUK board rejects HEA price hike”, 1 February).

A review of the HEA’s work would surely be timely now, ahead of the implementation of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ DIY plans to introduce a TEF-in-a-hurry. If it is enhancing teaching in an institution near you, that should surely include potential for the measurement of the resulting quantity of excellence added?

Another story of the week, in The Times and elsewhere, has been the tracking of student physical activity at Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma in the interests of better “learning management”. “Learning management” student tracking software is being developed in the UK, too. Surely this is another area of provision that BIS should be factoring into the TEF? How better to quantify student engagement and its results than to measure the very coursing of the blood in those receiving excellent teaching at a given level?

G. R. Evans

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