Helen Billington , 42
Faculty of Biological Sciences
Learning and Teaching Quality Assurance Officer
Job advertised in The Times Higher , November 14 2003
Helen Billington gave up her career as a lecturer in environmental biology at Coventry University when her husband's job shifted to Leeds. She lives on a smallholding in North Yorkshire and commutes to Leeds.
"Since the move, I've been involved in university administration, initially managing projects such as widening participation for a spin-off called Yorkshire Universities," she says.
A vacancy as faculty recruitment officer at Leeds University's faculty of biological sciences some 18 months ago gave Billington the opportunity to get back into her subject area, albeit with a marketing bent. From there, she decided to apply for a quality assurance officer post because she wanted to improve students' experience of learning. The faculty wanted to link its four schools - biochemistry and microbiology, biology, biomedical sciences and sport and exercise sciences.
Jeremy Rayner, faculty dean for learning and teaching, says: "We had 20 or so applications. Some were quite strange. We needed someone with an understanding of the pressures on academics, the national quality agenda and white paper."
Billington was appointed in January and is phasing in the work while awaiting the appointment of her replacement. Her first task is to get approval for a new faculty degree programme.
"That will need a student handbook and code of practice for assessment. I'm going to try to unify practice across the faculty. That should decrease the workload - not at the outset, though."