A long-anticipated merger between the Higher Education Academy (HEA), the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) has been confirmed. LFHE chair Alison Johns is to chair the new agency, whose name is yet to be unveiled.
It follows the recommendations of the Bell review for a single sector agency for learning and teaching, equality and diversity, and leadership and governance in higher education. Hitherto the HEA has had a focus on teaching, the LFHE on management and leadership in higher ed, and the ECU on diversity among teachers and students.
A three month consultation, said to include "institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally" will begin in February, with a "revised offer and structure" in place by August.
The high-profile HEA Fellowship scheme is to continue, meaning that staff who teach or support teaching and learning may continue to apply to have their work and commitment to teaching and learning rewarded under the scheme. HEA Fellowship post-nominals, currently held by almost 100,000 HEA Fellows around the world, will also be unaffected by the merger.
Similarly, institutions with HEA Accredited programmes will continue to confer HEA Fellowship on successful participants on those programmes. The single agency will continue to accredit new programmes and continuous professional development schemes for teaching staff.
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, chair of the HEA Board and vice-chancellor and principal of Canterbury Christ Church University, said, “The Board fully supports the merger of the three agencies which we believe will be stronger together, offering a single channel to focus on teaching and learning, equality and diversity, and leadership and governance. We are pleased that HEA Fellowships and the HEA post-nominals will be retained, given that they are widely known both in the UK and internationally.”