Will we mourn HEA subject centres?

HEA doesn’t need subject centres, advocates argue, but critics disagree. Jack Grove reports

The Higher Education Academy’s plan to scrap its teaching support centres sparked an outcry when it was announced last autumn.

More than 1,000 people signed a petition calling for the body’s chief executive, Craig Mahoney, to reverse the decision to shut the 24 subject centres, while MPs raised their plight in the House of Commons. Others registered their concern in the press, including a letter of protest to Times Higher Education in November signed by 180 academics.

But despite the unease, the shake-up has continued apace.

Roaming discipline and subject leads have now started to replace the centres, which will be phased out by the end of the year. The overhaul will result in the loss of the equivalent of 130 full-time posts, with the HEA’s workforce falling to about 120, of which 80 are “academically focused”.

The question now is whether the streamlined HEA will have enough staff and the right structures in place to fulfil its remit of helping academics to improve as teachers.

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By admin

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

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