To coincide with the launch of CDN’s Research and Enhancement Centre, CDN’s National Research and Improvement Manager Dougie Smith explains why it’s important for the college sector…

CDN is launching a brand new service for the college sector in Scotland called the Research and Enhancement Centre (REC).

The Research and Enhancement Centre is a direct response to demand within the sector in Scotland for a coordinated and collaborative approach to research and enquiry in colleges, and the reaction we’ve had to our plans so far has been unanimously positive and optimistic.

This is a challenging time for colleges in Scotland, but it is also a time of huge opportunity for the future. There have been a series of reports over the last few months with recommendations directly and indirectly related to the future of Scotland’s colleges – including the Cumberford-Little Report, The College of the Future, the SFC Review, CDN’s International Ambitions Report – and more, with further reports and reviews in the pipeline. This feeds into the REC’s first aim – to coordinate existing research and enquiry work in an easily accessible central location, to allow key recommendations and themes to be displayed and explored. We’ve designed a new page on the website with this in mind and brought much of the existing work together, and we will continue to update it as new material is produced to make sure we help to create a coherent vision.

The second aim of the REC is to drive new research and enquiry in the sector – ensuring it is relevant, applicable and useful. We can only do this by working with staff in colleges – we want the work to reflect the realities and ambitions of the people of Scotland’s colleges. There will be scope to do many different kinds of research, including action-based research looking at the impact and practicalities of course delivery; as well as the opportunity for more conceptual, future-focused research pieces. The work of the REC so far reflects this balance, with research on internationalism, virtual governance, poverty, and school-college partnerships all featuring.

The final aim of the REC is to drive the improvement work emerging from the research – ensuring that the findings are taken forward in a collaborative way for the enhancement of college progress and student success. This means not creating research and reports with recommendations that sit untouched or unread – but for CDN to work with colleges across the country to work out how best to progress, both at an institutional and at a national level. We’ll work with our existing networks, look at setting up short-life working groups attached to any research recommendations, and work across the sector to make sure that our research leads to enhancement.

The REC is driven by Scotland’s colleges, for Scotland’s colleges – we want the topics, methods and ideas to come directly from the sector. We want to ensure that Scotland’s colleges continue to innovate and lead the way through informed and evidence-based thinking.

We are hosting an online launch event of the Research and Enhancement Centre on Thursday 22 April, with speakers including Grant Ritchie (former Principal at Dundee and Angus College and CDN Fellow and Associate), Julia Belgutay (Head of FE at TES), Christine Calder (Academic Development Lead at Dundee and Angus College and Researcher at CAIRN) and Marin Doel (Chair of FE Leadership at FETL and Professor at UCL). The event is free to attend – simply register below.

Book your place today

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