HLSS Teaching and Learning Away Day

Corinne and I have just returned from a very interesting away day for the Health, Life and Social Sciences faculty in the University. The day focused on the Teaching and Learning strategy for the university and, specifically, how HLSS as a faculty is going to take this forward.

After two introductory, scene-setting talks by the Dean of Faculty Prof. Sara Owen and Prof. Mike Neary Dean of Teaching and Learning, we split into groups to discuss seven different aspects of the strategy, from support for staff and students to using technology in teaching and learning. Karin Crawford had invited us to lead a presentation and facilitate a discussion on funding activity for teaching and learning.

The discussion in the funding group centred on three key areas:

  1. Using existing FED (Fund for Educational Development) bids to leverage further funding. Taking Mark Baron and Jose Gonzalez-Rodriguez’ FED bid as a starting point, we discussed how using small pots of funding like this is a great way to convince external funders that you have a project worth funding. This project enables first-year chemistry undergraduates to produce short youtube-style video clips explaining key aspects of the course. The joint JISC/HEA scheme to support Open Educational Resources was mentioned as a highly likely funder for developing this activity. It was also suggested that we conduct an “audit” of all successful FED bids across HLSS and the institution, and work with staff to turn these into potential external funding projects.
  2. Identifying funding “quick wins” and targeting these to staff. Building on this idea is the related concept of identifying targeted funding opportunities, particularly small grants, that are likely to have higher success rates and be more accessible for early career researchers, or academics who have less time to devote to putting bids together. ESRC small grants, the British Academy and Leverhulme were all discussed, as was the Higher Education Academy’s ESCalate programme.
  3. RAE money used to build research capacity. Following our strong results in the recent RAE, the attention will now turn to how to use the QR funding made available. Although we don’t yet know the precise amount of funding we’re likely to receive, it’s important for faculties to think about how they might best use it. It was generally agreed that using it to attract more high quality research students is high on the agenda. Another idea suggested was using it to create small pots of internal research funding, like FED, which staff from across the faculty could apply for to run small-scale pilot projects. These could then be converted into larger bids to research councils, the EU and other funders.

We also discussed free online resources staff can use to search for funding, such as delicious and researchresearch, which we will be covering in more depth in the training workshops we’ll be running with CERD and LLR staff over the coming months. In addition, some concerns were raised over post-award grant management procedures and costings which URO will seek to address in future training sessions.