Innovative teaching efforts share £315m

January 28, 2005

"It's a little scary creating something so innovative, but it's a wonderful opportunity and we're really looking forward to it," said Sylvina Tate, principal lecturer for teaching and learning at Westminster University's School of Integrated Health.

Ms Tate will help create a centre for professional learning from the workplace at Westminster in collaboration with colleagues from the university's schools of media, art and design and biosciences.

The scheme is just one of the centres for excellence in teaching and learning announced this week by the Higher Education Funding Council for England. Hefce has earmarked £315 million over five years for the fledgling Cetls.

Westminster's centre will draw together the best aspects of work-based learning from the perspective of different schools and share them within the university and beyond.

Students of complementary therapies at the School of Integrated Health often work alone and have to manage themselves. Ms Tate said: "We embed reflective practice throughout all our courses, where students learn from and reflect on their own experiences. What we are looking at is creating something generic that would apply to anyone in the workplace."

A consortium bid from universities in the North East, led by Newcastle University, will build rehearsal rooms and electronic music studios and buy instruments for students. This will allow them a practical and academic experience of learning all types of music, said David Clarke, Newcastle's head of music and coordinator of the project.

"It should enhance their experience, and promote a diversity of music and plurality of learning approaches." Plans include buying 100 iPod digital music players so world music students can make their own recordings and transcriptions.

The project will also involve the the Sage Gateshead Music and Arts Centre, which will host world-class composers leading workshops and will help explore the potential of ensemble and communal music-making as a model for student learning.

Warwick University plans to work with the Royal Shakespeare Company on using theatre performance skills to improve student learning, and De Montfort University is to build a new centre for the performing arts.

Liz Beaty, Hefce's director of learning and teaching, said: "The point of Cetls is to increase the opportunities institutions have to invest in excellent teaching.

"People have said for a long time that all the extra awards where you compete for money are on the research side, whereas all teaching funding has been based on student numbers rather than the quality of teaching."

Further rounds of the scheme have not been ruled out. "This is the first time we have done anything like this. It was very difficult to predict what would happen, and we need to evaluate our processes," she said.

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