£315m boost for best teaching

January 30, 2004

Universities and colleges were this week invited to bid to host one or more centres for excellence in teaching and learning (Cetls).

Some £315 million will be ploughed into launching more than 70 centres over the next five years. This includes £140 million for upfront capital spending.

The centres, modelled on "beacon" schools, are designed to raise the strategic profile of teaching in higher education through a system of rewards and investment. They will work in tandem with the new Higher Education Academy and its subject centres.

Liz Beaty, director of learning and teaching at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said: "Although this is new money, it will not necessarily translate into new staff, but there may be some regrouping in institutions. Cetls are more about rewarding excellent teaching that exists and investing in its growth and dissemination."

She said that universities and colleges could be creative and strategic about what they chose to highlight as a specialism. Cetls could be based on a distinctive way of teaching, organising student learning, designing the curriculum, assessment or involving students. They could even be based on a goal such as promoting enterprise.

Hefce has set three funding levels for bids - £200,000, £350,000 and £500,000 per year for five years - with upfront capital of up to Pounds 800,000, £1.4 million and £2 million respectively.

Student numbers will determine how many Cetls an institution can host.

Those with fewer than 5,000 full-time equivalent students can make one bid; those with 5,000-15,000, two bids; and those with more than 15,000, three.

All can make collaborative bids with other institutions or organisations, such as the Teacher Training Agency or the National Health Service.

The Learning and Teaching Support Network welcomed the changes that Hefce has made to the original proposals laid out in January's white paper.

Cliff Allan, the LTSN programme director, said: "We like the joining-up of Cetls and the academy/subject centres, which have distinctive roles. The Cetls' work will impact directly on students, while we will focus on dissemination of Cetls' practice and experience. We hope this will ensure that Cetls benefit more than just through those institutions that receive funds."

The deadline for bid applications is April 24.

* The Higher Education Academy appointed its first chief executive this week. Paul Ramsden, the pro vice-chancellor (learning and teaching) at Sydney University, Australia, will start work at the academy this summer.

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