Core to the work of the National HE STEM Programme was building upon the effective practices or approaches that already existed within the higher education sector, including those developed through the four disciplinary pilot projects. While this approach underpinned all aspects of the Programme’s work, and as such is described within the National HE STEM Programme final report, several innovative schemes were established with the aim of transferring and embedding effective practice within the higher education sector.
Collaborative Projects Initiative
One of the first specific initiatives to support this aim established by the Programme was a Collaborative Projects Initiative, launched in late 2009, which issued an open funding call for one-year projects with the remit of transferring proven practices into, between, or within, higher education institutions. In effect this scheme took a successful activity, resource or approach that had been developed elsewhere, possibly in a different discipline, and enabled others to implement it within their institutions. The intent was to encourage and develop collaborations that were self-identified and self-led rather than brokered by the Programme. Twenty individual proposals were supported following a highly competitive selection process. The case studies arising from this initiative, along with the learning and findings from implementing such a scheme, can be found in the Collaborative Practice Transfer Fund case studies report.
Menu of Activities
The National HE STEM Programme ‘Menu of Activities’ initiative was established in the summer of 2010. It involved the identification of a range of activities, derived from the work of the four disciplinary pilot projects, that could be directly ‘adopted’ and implemented by higher education institutions without the need for further developmental work. The initiative involved providing ‘pump priming’ funds to enable universities to undertake the activity, but more particularly provided access to expertise from those who had worked on the activities as part of the pilot projects; this also included the provision of a range of resources to aid implementation of the activity.
Two open calls to participate in this scheme were offered to the higher education sector: one in October 2010 and the second in March 2011. A series of 36 case studies emerging from this initiative, along with an analysis of its impact, are available in the Case Studies Arising from the National HE STEM Programme ‘Menu of Activities’ Initiative report.
Practice Transfer Adoption Scheme
The Practice Transfer Adoption Scheme was the most innovative of all the Programme’s approaches to disseminating its work. It provided a focused opportunity for universities who had not previously participated in a specific activity to directly ‘adopt’ the intervention for themselves. The Practice Transfer Adopters scheme was deliberately designed to be an active form of dissemination, uptake, that would enable practices to be embedded within the sector. Financial support was provided to the ‘adopting’ universities to adapt and embed the activity within their curriculum, and to enable the existing project leads to provide ongoing advice and guidance during the implementation process.
This initiative alone resulted in 84 examples of effective practice being transferred across the higher education sector. It demonstrated it was effective at sharing practices between individuals who had not worked together previously, often subsequently engaging them in new networks or communities, and at transferring approaches across disciplinary boundaries. More details on this initiative, including its impact, can be found within the National HE STEM Programme final report.