Advance HE Proposal to Develop Subject Led Networks. A report from a recent consultation event

As we all know one of the casualties of the retrenchment in its finances was the decision by the Higher Education Academy to abandon its Faculty-led model and close all its Subject Centres.  Many of us were sad to see these go feeling that the activities of many of these Centres had made major contributions to pedagogy in their own areas.  Recently Advance HE has announced its intention to revive the subject centres and has been holding a series of face-to-face and online consultations.  I attended an online event last week.  The purpose of this brief item is both to update you on current thinking and to encourage you to join one of these events and contribute.

In summarising the present state of play it would be fair to say that ideas are still at an embryonic stage.  The plan is that these centres will be largely or exclusively virtual, the consequence of ongoing budgetary constraints, and will be a combination of discipline and theme-led.  At the online event I joined, several themes emerged.  The first was that a blended approach was felt to provide a potentially more sustainable network combining a virtual network with some face to face events.  There was felt to be a need for both discipline-based networks, especially in areas where there was no well-developed professional body or where the discipline was very small and represented in any one institution by small numbers of staff.  It was also felt that thematic networks would be helpful.  The consensus was that these networks needed to be developed bottom-up by practitioners rather than top-down by AHE meaning that facilitators and leaders would be needed.  The networks could very well be global so asynchronous discussion facilities would be needed.  Outputs would also be essential and some form of regular newsletter or journal appearing at appropriate intervals was suggested as one form of output.

Discussions are ongoing with the plan being to instigate the formation of these networks before the end of this academic year.  It would be helpful if a number of us could be part of these consultations both to help shape the discourse but also, perhaps, to become some of the first facilitators.

If you want to discuss this further please contact me.

If you want to join a consultation event AHE are still looking to organise further events and these will be added to the Events Calendar, please check the email for more details.

If you have any other questions please do not hesitate to contact

Prof Steve McHanwell, Director of ERDP network

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