Pounds 60m carrot for dual plan

August 21, 1998

The English funding council this week issued two consultation documents: one on widening participation, the other on teaching excellence

Universities are to be offered the incentive of additional student numbers in return for above-average teaching, writes Alison Utley.

In its latest drive to improve degree-level teaching HEFCE said it would like to spend up to Pounds 30 million on a range of initiatives, including professorships recognising top-flight teachers.

Universities and some FE colleges will be able to bid for extra numbers by persuading the funding council that their teaching provision is excellent. This would be likely to include the outcomes of the Teaching Quality Assessment.

In a consultation document released this week, HEFCE admitted that universities suffered from "competition, duplication and lack of coordination and coherence" between initiatives concerned with improving teaching and learning.

The Association of University Teachers said the bidding process would ensure each department got a fair crack of the whip.

But Lee Harvey, director of the centre for research into quality at the University of Central England, said the plans were in danger of being hijacked by elite and more traditional institutions that are already well rewarded. "I would like to see a lot more emphasis on improvement and innovation in teaching," he said.

The strategy has three strands:

* institutional strand, which will reward high-quality provision with extra student numbers

* subject strand, which includes development of UK-wide integrated subject centres

* individual academic strand, providing funding to recognise teaching excellence of individuals or small groups.

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