The paper reports on emerging findings from an Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) special initiative project that maps resources, activities and processes supporting the development of national tertiary learning and teaching (L&T) grant applications. The project is developing an online resource which outlines the various practices institutions are utilising to support the development of competitive applications. The resource is designed to assist institutions to benchmark their practices, including related professional development, against those utilised by other institutions. Competitive L&T grants have risen to prominence in Australia in the last decade. This in part is due to the emphasis on L&T quality, which is a core focus of tertiary institutions in an increasingly competitive and complex global education and workplace environment. Paradoxically, little has been known of the nature and variety of approaches that are utilised. Smeal et al. (2011) observed that “[l]iterature on critical factors in embedding sustainable university-wide engagement in external awards and grants funding is limited” (p. 300). What is emerging from the research is that while some institutions have highly-structured, well-resourced and explicit, systematic internal processes that support the development of L&T grant applications, others have a less prescribed and less resourced approach. While the approach of any institution is shaped by a variety of contextual factors and ‘one size’ will not fit all, some resources, activities and processes, including professional development for applicants, are more supportive and effective than others. This can create conditions to make applications robust and relevant to the interests of the funding body and which are ready to undergo a rigorous peer-review process. This paper will provide an evidence-based account of the diversity and characteristics of resources, activities and processes supporting the development of national tertiary learning and teaching grant applications.
Addressing the theme/s of the Conference:
The paper addresses the theme ‘Navigating uncertainty and complexity’. Developing applications for national tertiary learning and teaching (L&T) grants is resource intensive and a high stakes activity; made more so by increasing competitiveness and occasionally short timelines between announcements of project opportunities and deadlines for submission of applications. Further, the recent classification of OLT L&T grants as Category 1 research income has resulted in a heightened awareness of their availability in a broader cross-section of tertiary staff. This potentially good news is presently offset by an increasing number of L&T grants applications from staff who are inexperienced in researching the L&T environment. This is an emerging and complex pressure point for a range of stakeholders, e.g. applicants, institutions, and presumably the funding body. By documenting the nature of resources, activities and processes used by institutions to support individuals and teams to develop competitive applications, this OLT special initiative project makes a timely and useful contribution to assist institutions to benchmark their practices.