A two-stage bidding process extending over the spring and summer will pick teams to run 24 subject-based teaching and learning centres.
Working under contract to a central management unit at the new Institute of Learning and Teaching's York headquarters, the centres will replace the Computers in Teaching Initiative centres, also 24 in number. Teams from CTI centres are likely to be prominent among the bidders to run the new units.
CTI has run for ten years and was praised in the Dearing report for demonstrating the value of a subject-based approach to teaching and learning. The new subject centres continue this approach but will be broader in scope, each covering all aspects of pedagogy for a group of subjects.
A committee chaired by Madeleine Atkins, dean of education at the University of Newcastle, reviewed ways of carrying forward the work done by the CTI and the Teaching and Learning Technology Support Network.
The review committee recommended 23 subject centres. The funding bodies increased this to 24. The final list is a close match to the list of CTI subjects, with a few changes such as the merging of mathematics and statistics.
Bidders will be asked to file an expression of interest by a date in May. A ten-week period of brokerage will follow, allowing bidders to merge or regroup. The contracts will be announced in August. Centres may be single-site or distributed, but the funding bodies are likely to favour single-site bids. "There will be an expectation of critical mass," Dr Atkins said. She added that small centres would typically have three academic and two support staff, and large centres might have five academic and three support staff.
Advice on the use of generic tools such as learning management systems will be offered by the ILT's Generic Learning and Teaching Centre. Roger King, vice-chancellor of the University of Lincoln and Humberside and chair of the ILT's transitional council, supports a Bristol site for the centre. Speaking to the annual meeting of the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association, Professor King said: "It seems sensible for the GLTC to be co-located with the Joint Information Systems Committee."