In 2020 IES, the English Association and University English launched a new series, Speaking for English Studies in UK Higher Education, which aims to help all colleagues – from early to late career – sharpen their advocacy and leadership skills.
Below find a statement from Jenny Richards, Chair of the English Associations Higher Education Committee, on how we are supporting English Departments.
We all know that many of our English departments are facing a challenging time, as the number of students taking the English A-Level (language or literature) continues to fall in a context in which the removal of caps on student numbers has allowed some departments to expand at the expense of others. At the English Association we are often asked about what we are doing to help departments cope with this situation. We are working continuously and in confidence with departments who contact us: sharing resources, offering collective expertise; and writing letters of support. By ‘we’ I mean not only colleagues from the English Association’s Higher Education Committee, but also members of the Executive of University English and the Institute for English Studies, with whom we have long been collaborating to present a coordinated response in these challenging times. To give you an example of how we can help: any department who needs support – for example, advice on a business plan or a counterproposal defending their colleagues from the threat of job cuts – can get in touch confidentially with me, Jenny Richards (Chair of EA’s HEC), or Alex Thomson (Chair of University English) or Clare Lees (Director of the Institute for English Studies, School of Advanced Study). Our volunteers comment on drafts of business plans and counterproposals and share facts and figures to support cases. Many of us are, or have been, heads of department, directors of institutes, and university deans. If you have expertise that our colleagues can benefit from, and you’d be willing to share it, please get in touch with me.
We are now building a toolkit for heads of department and their teams to use, sharing what we are learning. Last year we launched a new series, Speaking for English Studies in UK Higher Education, which aims to help all colleagues – from early to late career – sharpen their advocacy and leadership skills. We will do much more of this work in 2022, when we have stories to tell about the kind of impact English studies has in the world, and its new interdisciplinary directions, sharing ideas and advice on how we can move our discipline forward together.