Towards the end of last year a number of comments appeared in the blogosphere about the proposed demise of the Higher Education Academy Subject Centres. At that time my teaching was in full swing so formulating a response was limited to a few retweets on Twitter.
I now have time to write a few more words. As a departmental rep for the UK Centre for Bioscience and participant in some of its events I found the announcement incredulous given the impact and usefulness of the activities of the Centre. The Centre has been hugely supportive of teaching in the Biosciences and has produced a number of very useful guides and resources to support lecturers. Its Bioscience Education journal is an excellent platform for the dissemination of good practice in teaching and learning, and in recognition of excellence in teaching there is the highly supportive process that defines the Ed Wood teaching award (now Bioscience Teacher of the Year Award). All these along with the myriad of useful workshops, conferences and events organised by the Centre make the decision to cease funding all the more unbelievable.
Other bloggers weighed in early with their responses such as Chris Wilmott who wrote his “Obituary The Death of a Dear Friend?” For me that could be extended to “two dear friends” as I have also in the past participated in the Variety in Chemistry Education events run jointly by the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Physical Sciences Subject Centre. Both Centres have been hugely successful in supporting teaching and innovation in teaching.
In the wake of the announcement a petition was launched to help save the Subject Centres and over 790 signatures have been received to date. This is further testament to the depth of feeling that exists around the issue.
In my assessment the Higher Education Academy will have it’s work cut out in trying to inculcate centrally the supportive environment that already exists through the Subject Centres.
Despite the bad news it is great to see the Bioscience Centre forging ahead with many great events in support of teaching. In many regards, on the surface at least, keeping calm and carrying on.