Jobwatch: Fledgling on lookout

August 6, 2004

University College Northampton is looking for research-active recruits even though it faces an uncertain research future if it is awarded teaching-only status, writes Chris Johnston.

University College Northampton hopes to be awarded full university status this year and is determined to recruit academics who will maintain its profile as a research-active institution.

The institution would qualify for university status under changes announced last month by Alan Johnson, the Higher Education Minister, that will create teaching-only universities.

But Ann Tate, Northampton's rector, said the university college had hoped to qualify under the old rules. "We wanted to be seen to be standing as tall as the other post-1992 universities," she said.

Given the increasing scarcity of research funding, Ms Tate said there was a possibility that the new teaching-only universities would not be able to develop a research capability in future. Northampton did not want to risk becoming trapped in this situation, she said.

Ms Tate added that achieving university status was important because it would make students more marketable to employers, help improve the institution's ability to win research funding and assist it with the retention and recruitment of quality staff.

Northampton has grown rapidly since it was a teacher training college in the 1970s. It now has about 10,000 students, some 25 per cent of whom are part time.

It recently reorganised into six schools, the largest of which is health, accounting for a fifth of the student body.

In last week's Times Higher , the school advertised for three lecturers in the fields of primary care and community development, primary mental health and human biology.

Ms Tate said the school, which includes sport and exercise science, would like to expand to encompass physiotherapy in two to three years.

Four other full-time and three fractional posts were advertised in the School of Social Sciences across three of its four divisions: law, psychology and history.

Three one-year roles in history have also arisen because two members of staff have won externally funded research leave. A lecturer in social and political history of the 19th and early 20th centuries is sought, and two 0.7 posts for lecturers in the history of crime and 20th-century history are open to applicants.

The university college also advertised two full-time lectureships in cognitive psychology to teach the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, including the BA and the combined BA/BSc in psychology.

Two senior positions - director of widening participation and educational partnerships and director of teaching and learning - were also recently advertised by Northampton.

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