Benefits for porters and professors

October 18, 1996

The report on page three and editorial on page 11 (THES, October 11) contained misinformation and the blurring of two distinctive projects on applications of competence models to higher education.

The reported UCoSDA report does not exist. There is only the first draft of work, which is to be further considered and refined by representatives of all staff groups, both in workshops and through wide postal consultation.

UCoSDA, as the central agency for promoting and supporting professional and vocational training for all staff, has a duty to consider the full range of training and development opportunities and qualification routes. Vocational qualifications are a significant provision in the field and we would be abdicating our responsibilities, were we not to explore the feasibility of using the framework in respect of some functions in higher education.

The editorial gave the impression that the present career and qualifications route for academic staff requires no development. Clearly undergraduate and postgraduate disciplinary study provides highly appropriate preparation for some areas of academic practice, but the sector cannot afford to be complacent about the need for skills development in other respects, eg aspects of the administrative, management and teaching roles. It is one of UCoSDA's tasks to consider the diverse ways in which these skills requirements might be met, hence our quite legitimate involvement in this developmental vocational qualifications project.

In response to allegations of waste, UCoSDA would like to assure the sector and particularly its members that all project costs are being met from Department for Education and Employment contract funding.

Finally, what are universities and colleges for, if not to examine, critically analyse, develop and evaluate new concepts, models and frameworks? This is precisely what the UCoSDA project is doing in respect of vocational and professional qualifications for higher education staff.

Patricia Partington Executive director The Universities' and Colleges' Staff Development Agency.

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