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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