New vision for Jordanhill

26th June 2009 at 01:00
University still to pursue `Scottish MIT' idea, but insists teacher education will not be downgraded

Strathclyde University has a new "vision" for teacher education.

It comes after The TESS revealed last week that its Jordanhill campus will no longer be a standalone education faculty and that plans to house it in a purpose-built Pounds 50 million city centre building have been abandoned.

The university confirmed our report that it sees its future as "an international technological university", which has been dubbed a "Scottish MIT" - an attempt to emulate the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But it emphasises that "strong, vibrant social sciences", including education, are a key element in its plans.

Jim Love, deputy principal, told The TESS: "There is no intention to diminish the role of the faculty of education, or the activities within it. This is about enhancing all of the social sciences, not relegating them."

Part of the university's plans, which will see education merged with the faculty of law, arts and social sciences from August 2010, involve the establishment of a dedicated "centre of excellence in teacher education". This would "focus on high-quality teacher education, developing strong partnerships with the General Teaching Council for Scotland, local authorities and partner schools", a statement said.

Jill Bourne, dean of the education faculty, commented: "We refresh ourselves by working with colleagues from other disciplines. There is no intention of downgrading teacher education; it will be protected. Our mission is still to produce excellent teachers for excellent schools."

Professor Bourne said the combined faculty would enhance the university's educational research, following a disappointing showing in this year's research assessment exercise for higher education.

The university's strategy is part of a wider Pounds 300m estates strategy, known as Campus Vision 2020, which will include a Pounds 90m capital investment programme to improve facilities for social sciences, teacher education, student services, the university library and sport and health. It was approved by the university court on Tuesday.

The court met amid protests from students and unions at staff cuts and the sale of 40 per cent of campus buildings; a voluntary severance scheme affecting 140 jobs has already been announced.

The university says its decision affecting education followed a detailed review of all its social sciences activity. Some strong common research themes emerged: the development of professional practice, leadership and management; innovation; science, technology and society; international business; governance; and equity and social justice.

A spokesman said: "The aims of bringing the faculties together are strengthening the profile of the social sciences, including education, through greater collaboration to enhance the quality of research and teaching."

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