Glasgow dismay at 'catastrophic' blow

4th July 2003 at 01:00
A MAJOR internal row has broken out at Glasgow University over the failure of its education faculty to be given a leading role in the pound;2 million educational research programme announced by the Scottish Executive last week.

This is the latest bout of unrest to hit the faculty, already wrestling with problems following the absorption of the former St Andrew's College of Education and the Scottish Council for Research in Education. A paper circulated to more than 100 members of Glasgow's education faculty, by leading professors Stephen Baron and Eric Wilkinson, describes the situation as "grave".

They add: "The significance of the outcome is potentially catastrophic, not only for the future status of the faculty of education in research terms but also in terms of the faculty being considered as a centre of excellence for education, including initial teacher education, in Scotland and beyond."

The contract for the applied educational research scheme, designed to support the Executive's national education priorities as well as to improve the quality of research, was awarded to a consortium led by Edinburgh, Strathclyde and Stirling universities.

While the Executive says that all universities carrying out education-related research will be involved, Glasgow's nose has clearly been put out of joint by having to line up alongside the smaller faculties of Aberdeen, Dundee and Paisley universities. The Baron-Wilkinson paper puts the blame squarely on Glasgow itself for "mismanagement" in allowing the Scottish Council for Research in Education to put in a bid, which was ultimately unsuccessful, outwith the consortium. This was "a catastrophic error" which leaves "a legacy of monumental significance".

Glasgow, through the SCRE centre, eventually submitted a separate bid for projects on truancy and teacher career patterns. This was rejected by a panel chaired by Professor Donald McIntyre of Cambridge University, which also included Graham Donaldson, head of the inspectorate, and Colin MacLean, head of the Executive's children and young people's group.

The panel criticised the Glasgow-SCRE bid for its lack of "a coherent longer-term programme of research" and for doing little to develop new research skills.

Hirek Kwiatkowski, dean of Glasgow University's education faculty, says the outcome is "regrettable" but the university has to move on. Discussions with other deans, he told The TES Scotland, have made it clear that this initiative is aimed not just at the consortium but at all the education faculties.

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