Canterbury Christ Church vice-chancellor is new HEA chair

Rama Thirunamachandran to lead sector body while teaching excellence tops the political agenda

August 20, 2015
Rama Thirunamachandran, the vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University

The new chair of the Higher Education Academy is Rama Thirunamachandran, the vice-chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University.

Professor Thirunamachandran, who has been a member of the HEA board since 2010, succeeds Don Nutbeam, the vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton.

He takes the helm at the York-based organisation, which supports and encourages teaching excellence, at a pivotal time in its development.

Teaching is at the top of the higher education policy agenda, with Jo Johnson, the universities and science minister, planning a teaching excellence framework to measure English institutions’ performance. Universities deemed to offer the highest quality teaching will be allowed to raise tuition fees in line with inflation from 2017-18, the government has said.

However, the HEA faces significant financial challenges, with its central funding, worth £15 million in 2013-14, expected to dwindle to zero in coming years.

Professor Thirunamachandran, formerly the deputy vice-chancellor of Keele University and director for research, innovation and skills at the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said it was a “great privilege” to take on the HEA role.

“The HEA’s business is about teaching quality, and this is high on the agenda across the sector and in governments in the UK and internationally – and it’s something about which I am passionate,” Professor Thirunamachandran said. “The HEA is in an enormously strong position to use its networks of best practice and its custodianship of the UK professional standards framework to help to make a real difference to student outcomes through teaching quality.

“The HEA has a central role to play in supporting the HE sector and I am confident its services will support institutions and individuals in their focus on student outcomes.”

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