The Higher Education Funding Council for England recently invited all higher education institution to submit bids for projects to extend the teaching year with a third semester. This is not the first HEFCE scheme for which the bidding timescale is ludicrously short. On this occasion the seven-week period allowed included the Easter vacation and two May bank holidays. Any prospect of widespread staff consultation is undermined.
Ours cannot be the only institution where structures for monitoring academic quality were by-passed in order to meet bidding deadlines. In our case school and academic boards appear to have been substituted by a brain-storming session of three people and an ad hoc working group.
We hope the HEFCE will audit the bidding process to ensure that third semesters had already featured in strategic plans and that academic quality procedures were adhered to, avoiding handing cash to institutions which had not given adequate thought to the impact of a third semester.
Paul Croney, Hilary Cunliffe-Charlesworth, Jane Mardell, Anthony Meehan, VICKY SEDDON
Academic board, Sheffield Hallam University