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HEFCE backs Sunderland College innovation in learning and teaching

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SUNDERLAND College is one of 67 universities and colleges to be awarded a share of £2.8 million to develop small-scale experimental innovations in learning and teaching.

The College received £50,000 to help improve employability skills and further align courses to meet the needs of communities and regional businesses.

The funding will also go towards programmes to enhance accessibility, allowing people access to more innovative ways of learning, whether that is at home or via technology.

HEFCE (the Higher Education Funding Council for England) is supporting a range of projects across higher education institutions and further education colleges in England.

Each project has successfully bid for up to £50,000 each from the Catalyst Fund to develop innovations in learning and teaching for either undergraduate or postgraduate taught provision.

Sunderland College director of higher education, participation and skills, Sally Dixon, said: “What this funding will help us do is support local needs – the needs of new learners, employers and communities.

“We are always looking at ways of making learning more accessible and this funding allows us to create new and enhance current programmes to help people who may already be at work study from home. We can also further develop technology-supported learning and generally boost employability skills.”

All HEFCE-backed projects will develop and evaluate small-scale, experimental innovations with specific cohorts of learners. Projects will run for a period of 18 months.

Active student engagement is a key aspect of the projects’ approach. The projects address a wide variety of themes including learning analytics, interdisciplinary learning, academic and employability skills, peer-assisted learning, assessment and student co-creation of learning resources.

HEFCE’s Chief Executive, Madeleine Atkins, said: “We were delighted by the level of interest from universities and colleges in developing new ways of working and are pleased to be funding such an exciting range of learning and teaching innovations. We look forward to working with the project organisations to share the lessons across the sector.”

A total of 139 bids were assessed, with advice from the Higher Education Academy, Jisc, and a student representative, to ensure that the selected projects would fully engage students in the innovation as leaders and co-creators, as well as demonstrating a clear and robust approach to project management, methodology and evaluation.

HEFCE will work with the projects to support their networking, evaluation and dissemination, so that the innovations and lessons learnt are shared with other providers across the whole higher education sector.


The projects have been funded by HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund (www.hefce.ac.uk/funding/catalyst/), which aims to drive innovation in the higher education sector, enhance excellence and efficiency in higher education, and support innovative solutions. The projects reported here are funded under Call A of the ‘Innovations in learning and teaching, and addressing barriers to student success’ strand of the fund, detailed in HEFCE Circular letter 20/2016 (www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/year/2016/CL,202016/).

Funded projects (www.hefce.ac.uk/lt/innovationfund/projects/).

Matt Jennings | Catalyst Fund Manager0117 931 7157 | www.hefce.ac.uk | Twitter @hefce|Bloghttp://blog.hefce.ac.uk/ | m.jennings@hefce.ac.uk

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