University of Leicester
The University of Leicester is a leading UK University committed to international excellence through the creation of world-changing research and high-quality inspirational teaching. The university was the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2008-9. In awarding the title the judges cited Leicester's ability to "evidence commitment to high quality, a belief in the synergy of teaching and research and a conviction that higher education is a power for good". Leicester was "elite without being elitist".
Achievements that have been documented in recent years include:
- Research published in February 2011 rated Leicester 3rd in England after Oxford and Cambridge for the quality of lecturing staff.
- The research conducted by the University has the strongest impact of any university in the UK Midlands region measured by citations per academic.
- Leicester has one of the highest proportions of research-active staff in the UK, with some 93% of staff submitted for the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise.
- Leicester is the most inclusive of Britain's top-20 leading universities with the greatest proportion of students from under-represented groups.
- Leicester has one of the highest student completion rates - 91% of students leaving the sector with an award, as per UK Government performance indicators.
- Leicester has the department with greatest concentration of world class research of any department of any discipline in the UK - the Department of Museum Studies.
- It was at Leicester that DNA Genetic Fingerprinting was invented by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys.
- The university has 23,000 students; it directly employs over 3,500 people and indirectly supports the employment of just under 3,000 others.
The Beyond Distance Research Alliance is a unique R&D unit that researches learning technologies and builds capacity within the University and the UK university sector. It collaborates with academic departments and senior management to identify appropriate ways to underpin the University's learning and teaching innovation strategy and policy for the future. It is one of the UK's premier centres for research into online and distance learning, facilitating change in the sector by informing best practice in teaching, based on the findings from research.
Research here is evidence-led rather than target-driven: the credo of the unit is innovation to mainstream; research to practice, with emphasis on low-cost, high-impact technologies that enable appropriate, learner-centred learning and teaching.
The achievements of Beyond Distance are twofold: (i) in high-quality research undertaken and widely disseminated; (ii) in contributing to the University's strategic vision and positioning in e-learning and distance learning. In the past two years the unit's strategic activity has included drafting policies, procedures and guidelines for the integration of OERs into curriculum design and delivery, fuelled by findings from the JISC- and HEA-funded UK-OER project, OTTER (http://www.le.ac.uk/otter. Knowledge gained from this project is currently being cascaded to other universities in UK through two new projects: OSTRICH (http://www.le.ac.uk/ostrich) and TIGER (http://www.northampton.ac.uk/tiger). A significant focus for all these projects is to set in place appropriate OER policies and strategies. Additionally the SPIDER project (http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/beyond-distance-research-alliance/projects/spider) builds on the foundations of the OTTER project, and shares knowledge and practice about OERs.
The unit shares its research outputs and best practice both internally and across the Higher and Further Education sectors. It has established a culture of open sharing via Creative Commons-licensed artefacts wherever possible, even supporting presenters at its online conferences and dissemination events to release their presentations as OERs. The repository is held at http://www.le.ac.uk/oer - all the OERs are also available on JorumOpen.