Summary: In his latest blog, Professor Harden discusses the relationship between funding and excellence in teaching, an update on abstract submissions for AMEE 2015 and an insight into his next travel plans. Description: Funding to universities in England based on the results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework has just been announced.  While some universities showed a gain, others are faced with a reduction of up to 17%.  Articles in the Times Higher Education (26 March 2015) suggest that universities are basing decisions on research priorities more than ever.  The government’s claim in the 2011 White Paper on Higher Education ‘Students at the heart of the system’ that ‘we want there to be a renewed focus on high quality teaching in universities so that it has the same prestige as research’ is being forgotten.  The White Paper promised ‘higher education institutions concentrating on high quality teaching and staff earning promotion for teaching ability rather than research alone.’  The Times Higher Education asks – has the vision failed?  At the University of Surrey job cuts are proposed for a department with an admired teaching record.  It is noted that there is no direct financial reward for good teaching or penalty for bad, whereas there is a very clear penalty for a poor research score.  There is a need for a teaching as well as a research excellence score.  The ASPIRE-to-Excellence initiative was set up in medical education two years ago with this aim and is attracting much attention.

Work has continued this week with the assessment of the poster submissions for AMEE 2015 in Glasgow.  As with the short communication and workshops we received many more submissions than it is possible to include in the programme.  All have been out for review but the final decision as to which to include is not easy.  Each year the standard appears to increase.  Some tackle big issues such as PBL and TBL, the hidden curriculum and the role of the patient.  Others address more specific questions such as the role of speed dating in career choice and what happens when a student is invited to talk over dinner with a retired physician.  I have always been a strong advocate of admission to medical school direct from school and have never been convinced by the arguments for graduate entry.  I was, therefore, interested in two posters, one which argues that age of students is not a problem in tackling difficult humanity problems and another which found that older students, while perhaps doing as well or perhaps even better during medical school, do less well after qualification.

I leave in about 10 days’ time for Malaysia where I am attending the Academic Council at the International Medical University and also taking part in the International Medical Education Conference.  I have been working on a new presentation for a plenary on Authentic learning and moving from the ivory tower to the real world.  I am also running a workshop on assessment to competence to practice.  I will be going on from Kuala Lumpur to Perth where we are looking at some of the arrangements for the Ottawa 2016 conference.  I think that Perth will be an excellent venue. I would look forward to meeting you in Perth.