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Deja vue

The teaching excellence framework seems familiar to those working in healthcare education, writes Fiona Ross.

That the government should assume teaching is not “at the heart of the system” and needs a good shake up is both challenging and combative. But its response—a teaching excellence framework—is not entirely new. A very similar system has been in place in healthcare programmes for almost a decade, although it was designed to improve employer rather than student choice. Subjecting all university programmes to the kind of performance management already seen in healthcare both feels like deja vue and offers an opportunity to share some lessons.

It was Margaret Thatcher’s ideology of the internal market that led to the purchaser-provider split in healthcare education in the late 1980s. At the same time there was a mass move of large contracts for nursing and midwifery into higher education. Universities became, in the language of that government, “providers” of healthcare education for nurses, midwives and allied health professions and subject to performance assessment. Although the health portfolio can be a large business and strong income stream for universities, this performance management is often hidden from view. It it tends to be managed in-house by faculties and separately from the rest of the academic portfolio. But perhaps it won’t be invisible for much longer. And it offers useful insights as universities prepare their responses to the consultation on the teaching excellence framework.

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