Traditional models of curriculum design are predicated upon the notion of the educational professional as expert. The curriculum of Continuing Professional Development is therefore usually ‘handed down’ to employers and employees as fixed and non-negotiable. The University of Bolton’s (UoB) strategic aim is to be a Professional, Employer and Community Facing University where the needs of employers and learners drive both curriculum content and mode of delivery.
The University intends that its academic practitioners will deliver professional higher education in partnership and in negotiation with employers and learners. This model is at the heart of a revolutionary approach to Continuing Professional Development (already underway) that will empower purchasers of higher-level skills to participate in the design and accreditation of their own learning and determine the time and place in which it is delivered. The JISC call enables us to focus our staff on a re-engineering of the professional curriculum.
In this model, the starting point for curriculum development and design is the needs of the learner (and their organisation) negotiated and delivered in partnership with full recognition of in-work and experiential learning. This curriculum re-engineering is vital to our institutional strategic mission, informs our strategic dialogue with HEFCE about employer co-funding expansion.
We already have a major stake in employer led and work-based programmes through our work with sector skills councils, professional bodies, the NHS, the Employer Based Training Accreditation (EBTA) framework and the Greater Manchester Lifelong Learning Network with over 50% of our students studying part-time. This platform is the basis for our strategic transformation into an employer facing university with the agile curriculum design and delivery systems to underpin our mission. The JISC call is therefore a timely catalyst for our institutional curriculum remodelling.