No takers for cash to research teaching

December 10, 1999

Academics are concerned that a multi-million pound teaching and learning research programme is failing to focus on higher education.

A five-year programme run by the Economic and Social Research Council has received no bids for research projects looking at teaching and learning in universities. Nearly all the networks picked by the ESRC have concentrated on schools.

This is despite hopes among officials at the Higher Education Funding Council for England that the programme would help fill a gap in this area of research.

Now there are fears that the programme's second phase, with awards worth up to Pounds 800,000 each, will prove equally dominated by schools.

Mantz Yorke, professor of higher education at Liverpool John Moores University and a member of HEFCE's teaching and learning committee, said although there were pockets of high-quality research into higher education teaching, it was difficult to bring groups together to work on a single project by the January 15 deadline for bids.

He said: "Research into teaching and learning in higher education is fragmented. It is going to be difficult to make up a project of the size expected for phase two."

Charles Desforges, programme director, said there was not as strong a tradition of research into teaching and learning in higher education as there was in schools.

But he added: "There are some very distinguished people in the field, and I am confident we will have some bids for research in this area."

Education books, page 30

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