The AoC Scholarship Project framework – what’s in it for me?

Chris Dows at conference

In June 2015, the Association of Colleges launched the Scholarship Project, a HEFCE Catalyst-funded research project in collaboration with the QAA, HEA and NUS. Its aim is to enhance the perception of College-Based Higher Education through the promotion of scholarly activity for HE staff and students working and studying within CBHE. Starting with four pilot colleges acting as leads to their associated partner colleges, the number of participants expanded to the current total of 45 FECs in early 2016.

By July 2017, the ‘Trial and Test’ phase closed with the development of multiple strategies aimed at promoting scholarly activity and, ultimately, a HE ethos within FECs delivering Higher Education. Now into its third and final year, the Scholarship Project is developing a framework of toolkits, processes and procedures based on the results of the Trial and Test stage for adoption by any FEC with Higher Education provision. Scheduled for launch by May 2018, the framework will consist of a comprehensive suite of materials for HE providers of any size or maturity. All well and good, but why would an FEC sign up to it?

One of the most important factors in answering this question concerns those involved in the development of the framework. The 17 lead college Scholarship Development Managers have considerable CBHE experience between them. They know the challenges HE within FE faces, from the lack of coherent scholarship policies promoting staff’s research profiles to relevant, appropriate OTL systems. Furthermore, the project has been coordinated by Dr John Lea, a recognised expert in College Based Higher Education, and a vocal supporter of the qualities Further Education providers can bring to HE teaching. In short, the framework is being designed and built by those who have worked and continue to work within the sector – people like you.

Framework architects aside, the primary objective of the project – to help FE colleges encourage staff in their scholarly endeavours and enhance the student learning experience – is another reason to adopt it. While it is still a work in progress, the various constituent elements will range from strategies to engage all HE staff in scholarly activity to promoting employer engagement in HE curriculum development. Once finalised, details of the contents will be disseminated on a bespoke web site, with full access provided on subscription.

There is a final reason to sign up. Because the framework will promote, support and capture scholarly activity, it will generate data that not only informs internal academic, CPD and quality processes, but can be used in three crucial external HE processes – the QAA’s Annual Provider Review (APR), applications to the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and Foundation or Taught Degree Awarding Powers (FDAP/TDAP). All require evidence of scholarly activity to best promote an FEC, and many elements of the framework will directly generate this information or create a context in which it can be evaluated and explored.

For more information on the framework or if you wish to be an early adopter, contact Nick Davy at the AoC -

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