Academic Leadership

Within UK Higher Education programme leaders are under increased pressure to be more productive and are expected to undertake a complex range of demanding activities. However, perceptions of the role through the lens of the programme leader have not been explored sufficiently. The need for a review of programme leader training and support was reinforced through the experience of facilitators at programme leader workshops within the University. Critically, these workshops have highlighted a need to review and enhance the preparation and on-going training and support available to programme leaders. To inform our practice and academic leadership training specifically a qualitative study was undertaken to explore the role of the programme leader in order to gain an in-depth understanding of what the role involves and a detailed appreciation of the knowledge and skills required to discharge the role effectively and efficiently. Such insight enabled Centre for Academic Quality Assurance (CAQA) and Centre for Learning, Access and Student Success (CLASS) to review the provision of initial and on-going training and support workshops for new and experienced programme leaders and drive improvements in programme leader performance at the University

The findings of the study provided a solid research base for programme leader induction and ongoing training and support at the university. The creation of a multifaceted programme leader development programme followed using a blended learning approach which is now well established, having been very positively evaluated particularly in terms of academic leadership training and support, programme leader skill, confidence and competence and the facilitation of the enhancement of the student learning experience. The development programme has been shared with a range of other HEI providers and practices elsewhere have been adapted as a consequence.

Cahill, J., Bowyer, J.,  Rendell, C., Hammond, A. and  Korek, S. (2015) An exploration of how programme leaders in higher education can be prepared and supported to discharge their roles and responsibilities effectively,  Educational Research, 57:3, 272-286, DOI: 10.1080/00131881.2015.1056640