Our three stakeholders are an important part of the Scholarship Project. Each stakeholder organisation is committed to enhancing students’ teaching and learning experience in their college Higher Education (HE) journey.
The HEA is the national body which champions teaching quality in higher education through its focus on professional recognition and continual professional development of individuals. With the UK Professional Standards Framework at the core of what they do, their aim is to improve learning outcomes by raising the quality and status of teaching in higher education as an essential driver for student success.
The HEA currently works with over 250 HE providers including over 75 college higher education (HE) providers who the organisation has worked with to support the enhancement of their HE teaching and professional recognition of their staff. As part of their mission to drive continual enhancement, the HEA has for over 10 years invested in a broad range of research to ensure that improvements are evidence-informed and underpinned by appropriate scholarship.
The organisation recognises that the college HE sector has a unique and vital role in the delivery of HE provision and whilst the Academy has supported key publications in this area, there still lacks a cohesive and widely-accepted definition of scholarly activity appropriate for colleges.
QAA is focused on assuring quality in the UK HE system through review and enhancement. The relevant aim from the QAA strategy 2014-17 is to enhance the quality and secure the standards of UK higher education wherever delivered in order to maximise public confidence.
QAA expanded its subscriber base in September 2013 and now has almost 200 subscribers from further education colleges delivering higher education. This reflects a number of policy changes subsequent to the publication of the White Paper in 2011 by BIS, Students at the heart of the system, resulting in:
an expanded and more diverse higher education sector, with further education colleges able to bid for their own student numbers
a significant growth in the number of higher education students in colleges, together with a substantive change in the nature of the colleges’ relationships with universities as collaborative partners, because the reliance on funding franchises is decreased increased autonomy in college HE because of the rise in the number of further education colleges applying for and obtaining FDAP and TDAP.
These factors have contributed to a change in the nature of QAA’s engagement with further education colleges and expectations for college HE in respect of both academic standards and the student experience.
NUS are a membership organisation of over 600 student unions in further and higher education across the UK. Its mission is to make a real difference to the lives of students through developing strong student unions and advocating students’ interests on matters directly or peripherally affecting them as students or in which they have a concern.
For NUS, the Scholarship Project is important as it will provide opportunities for students to work with staff on enhancing the integration of theory and practice in learning contexts. In broad terms, higher education aims to develop learner autonomy, community and change agency. These are all domains that align with research practices and scholarly activity and through which students can exercise agency. The techniques and disciplines of scholarship therefore can support learners to develop a sense of ownership and ability to make decisions about their own learning progression. Community relationships are also important in producing new knowledge and we should be seeking to build learning relationships within which knowledge is produced and contested.
In addition, the process of students and staff working in partnership to produce enhancements to teaching & learning and the college community is also arguably a form of applied scholarship. It will involve addressing problems without immediately obvious solutions; evidence gathering and exploration of effective practices; innovation, testing, refining and evaluation; and the findings will often have value to a wider community of practice.