Dearing co-opts experts to plug gaps

June 7, 1996

Sir Ron Dearing's committee of inquiry into higher education is to gather a small team of advisers and may commission original research to back up its investigations.

After its first two meetings, Sir Ron's 17-strong team has agreed to seek out and co-opt experts in the social sciences and humanities to fill gaps in members' knowledge, and to talk to academics who have been involved in studies on the regional economic impact of institutions.

It may also initiate research projects into the use of information technology in teaching, the developing relationship between further and higher education, the experience of students who entered higher education holding General National Vocational Qualifications, and the views of graduates in the early stages of a career on the value of higher education.

The committee will also set up its own working groups to tackle key issues, including aspects of the Scottish higher education system, teaching, quality and standards, information technology, research and staff resources. The full committee will concentrate on broad issues of policy, including funding.

Members agreed to consult extensively through a questionnaire, through visits including foreign trips, meetings, and at conferences to be held from the autumn.

The committee is considering over 70 written submissions and feedback through informal meetings with individuals and organisations. It meets again later this month and plans a weekend meeting in July.

Their investigations will also extend abroad, making use of visits which have already been arranged to Japan, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and various Asian countries.

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