The University of Birmingham has a long and proud tradition of providing professional training in fields ranging from social work and education to nursing, medicine and physiotherapy, to sports coaching and health management. For example, the University was the first in the country to offer a social work degree programme, and has been training future practitioners since 1908. The University’s long running teacher training programme has consistently been recognised as ‘outstanding’ by OFSTED. This activity has recently taken a new turn with the successful proposal to create a University secondary school. Both nurse and physiotherapy training are well established, although there are ongoing debates about the links between academic programmes, professional training and local hospital trusts. The Health Services Management Centre teaches the national Management Training Scheme for future NHS leaders, which consistently features at or near the top of national graduate scheme league tables.
The history of and commitment to professional training at the University of Birmingham are not in question, and it is clear that some of the provision is of very high quality. Yet, ongoing changes in higher education mean that current approaches to professional training may need to evolve, particularly in research-intensive universities such as those in the Russell Group. The issues to be confronted are not entirely new, but they have been brought into sharp relief by the recent increases in tuition fees and the threats to professional bursaries and other educational funding streams, particularly for those in the public sector. Moreover, a growing emphasis on employability and meeting the specific needs of the workplace is raising age-old questions about the relative value of ‘academic learning’ and ‘practice application’ (albeit placing them in a false dichotomy). Finally, for academic staff working in research-intensive universities, the challenges of delivering high quality (and time-intensive) professional education while developing research of international quality can be particularly challenging. Yet, if research-intensive universities cannot offer research-based professional education, questions will be raised about their role in the whole endeavour.
It is clear that concerns about the place of professional training in research-intensive universities will intensify as financial pressures increase. Against this background, a one-day IAS workshop is proposed for Spring 2013 to address the question: ‘What is the future for professional training in research-intensive universities?’
The aim of the workshop is to bring together academic colleagues involved in professional training across and beyond the University of Birmingham, including two colleagues from the University of Illinois UC, to identify new ways forward for both teaching and research. The first part of the workshop will focus on identifying shared challenges with a comparative keynote from Prof. Bill Stewart (Dean of the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and a colleague, UCUC). The second part of the workshop will begin with a keynote presentation on inter-professional education by Prof. Hugh Barr, Emeritus Professor of Inter-professional Education, Honorary Fellow at the University of Westminster and President of the Centre for the Advancement of Inter-professional Education (CAIPE) (tbc). This will be followed by inter-professional action groups that will explore opportunities to develop a new model of research-led inter-professional education at the University of Birmingham in collaboration with colleagues from UIUC if feasible. Sources for further funding will be identified.
Proposed invitees: a workshop for up to 25 participants covering the range of professional education courses offered at the University of Birmingham including: Sue White and Gary Hickman, Institute of Applied Social Studies; Alison Rushton plus a colleague, Physiotherapy; Paul Stewart, John Skelton plus a colleague, Medicine; Yvonne Sawbridge and Robin Miller, Health Services Management Centre; Hwyel Thomas, School of Education; Kyriaki Makopoulou, SportEx.