Reporter 453, 5 June 2000

Innovation takes centre stage as teaching and learning support services are overhauled

Several major projects are coming on stream in the next few weeks as a result of the Higher Education Funding Councilís decision to earmark £1m for the University to enhance and develop learning and teaching activities.

Learning curve: the University will pay application costs and the first year's subscription for staff joining the Institute for Learning and Teaching

"The success of the bid will allow us to pursue excellence," said Professor John Macklin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Learning and Teaching. "We are fortunate to have staff with recognised expertise and ability to contribute to the identification, development and dissemination of good practice in these areas."

A skills and employability unit has been established to provide support for the design, development, operation and accreditation of student skills and work-related learning in whatever form is most appropriate to each school or department. Frances Ledgard has moved from the City and Regional Office to be work experience officer in the new unit.

Degree of calm: the Edward Boyle Library in mid-exam season

"Students and employers will both tell you that even a small element of learning linked to the world of work can do wonders to broaden student experience and enhance employability," she said.

"We shall be contacting all schools and departments to discuss how best we can support their plans."

The communications and information technology (C&IT) team in the Curriculum Project will establish a faculty-based system of support for enhancing the use of C&IT in student learning and in teaching provision. A team of project officers has already started work. The project is being steered through a small group headed by Sally Macgill, Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Faculty of Earth and Environment.

Moment of truth: aim is to promote best practice in teaching

"Many people are already using C&IT in their teaching," she said. "This project aims to build on this across each faculty, by identifying good practice locally and nationally, and helping colleagues to take advantage of what is best and most useful to us."

The Staff and Departmental Development Unit already facilitates membership of the Institute for Learning and Teaching (ILT). To meet demand, SDDU is now providing support for all staff with contracts to teach. The University is paying the membership processing cost and the first yearís fee - £25 and £75 respectively - for employees and for NHS clinical staff with honorary University contracts.

The ILT provides an important national mechanism for recognising the contribution staff can make to the learning experience of students, and membership of it gives a very positive statement about the quality of teaching provision.

A website for the dissemination of good practice will be produced by the Quality Management and Enhancement Unit. University policies and guidelines relating to learning and teaching supporting the dissemination of best practice and the new website will help achieve this.

"This will provide all staff and students with a simple-to-use single point of access," said QMEU director Kath Hodgson.

Key contacts for the new initiatives are:

Skills and Employability: Frances Ledgard ( or Maggie Boyle (

Curriculum Project C&IT team: Sally Macgill (s.m.macgill or David Gardner (d.gardner

Institute of Learning and Teaching: Chris Butcher (, or visit the Instituteís website at or the SDDU at

Quality Management and Enhancement Unit: Kath Hodgson (k.r.hodgson@adm.

The University of Leeds is home to two of the 24 new national subject centres forming the Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN), created by the funding councils to rationalise programmes for supporting good practice and innovation and covering all aspects of pedagogy in higher education.

When institutions were invited to submit bids to host the subject centres last year, Leeds was the only one to have more than one bid accepted. Its two centres are Biosciences, and Philosophical and Religious Studies.

The Philosophical and Religious Studies Centre receives an annual HEFCE grant of £180k in the first instance, together with £30k and infrastructural costs paid for by the University. It covers five distinct disciplines: philosophy, philosophy of science, history of science, theology, and religious studies, all subjects well-represented at Leeds.

The director is George MacDonald Ross of Philosophy, and there are two full-time staff: Dr Simon Smith of Theology and Religious Studies (research and administration co-ordinator) and Dr Nik Jewell of Philosophy (C&IT manager). The centre will operate mainly through a website and discussion lists, supplemented by national and regional conferences and workshops, and institutional visits. Its website, which goes live this summer, is intended be a major resource for good practice and innovation in teaching the disciplines. Its office is in Baines Wing G34 (ext 4184;

The Bioscience centre, housed in the School of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, will receive an annual HEFCE grant of £240k and a contribution to infrastructure costs by the University. Its subjects range from cellular and molecular biology, anatomy and physiology and genetics, to agriculture, forestry and ecology. Its director will be Professor Ed Wood, with Professor Ian Hughes as co-director.

Further information is available on the following web pages:

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