Who got that job?

June 1, 2007

Craig Mahoney, deputy vice-chancellor (learning and teaching), Northumbria University.

Job advertised in The Times Higher, September 8, 2006

University is no longer simply an educational experience, believes Craig Mahoney, incoming deputy vice-chancellor of Northumbria University.

Professor Mahoney takes on responsibility for ensuring that Northumbria continues to provide the highest quality of teaching to its nearly 30,000 students. This includes the challenge of a large number of overseas entrants.

Professor Mahoney, who spent the past seven years at Wolverhampton University as dean of sport, performing arts and leisure, said: "I've wanted to be in this position for a long time. I had spent four years, while at Wolverhampton, as an external examiner at Northumbria, and I had also been building up my skills and abilities. So when the opportunity came up, I was ready."

His experience has convinced him that higher education faces different sorts of student learning challenges from those of a few years ago.

"We live in modern times, and the role of the university is changing.

University is no longer just an educational experience," he said. "We must take a role in supporting mature people who are over the age of 21. We must develop people to be able to add their body of knowledge to the economy and enterprise.

"The agenda is changing, and universities have to demonstrate that they can teach employment skills to everyone in the workforce."

He is also very aware of a growing criticism that teaching is insufficiently research-led. "It is very tricky to demonstrate and establish measures of proof in this area. There are papers in circulation from ministers and the Department for Education and Skills, and it is a fact that this is becoming a difficult position.

"Is it enough for a lecturer just to reference a paper in a lecture? This is a challenge across the sector, to prove, in a convincing way, that research is informing the curriculum."

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