Learning development 2030


  • Ed Bickle Bournemouth University
  • Steph Allen Bournemouth University
  • Marian Mayer Bournemouth University




Whilst the widening participation agenda and the impact of COVID-19 has arguably increased the importance of learning development (LD) within the UK Higher Education Sector, it is widely acknowledged that the role, and indeed title, of the learning developer varies greatly between institutions. Some staff are employed on academic contracts with research requirements, others not. Similarly, some staff are faculty based whilst others are employed within a central team. This means that as Bickle et al. (2021) explain: LD operates in a ‘third space’. The disparity within the profession has meant that the role of the learning developer is multi-faceted, reflected in Hilsdon’s (2011, p.14) definition of LD:


“Learning development is a complex set of multi-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary academic roles and functions, involving teaching, tutoring, research, and the design and production of learning materials […]”.


This workshop provided participants with an opportunity to untangle the complex LD web and map out ideas for the future of the LD profession. Acting as newspaper editors, participants got out their crystal balls and produced a front page of a newspaper in 2030 where the main headline has been dedicated to the field of LD. Perhaps a LD staff member has won a prestigious award, maybe LD has received some form of international recognition. After presenting their front pages, participants engaged in a discussion around how as a profession we can achieve some of these aspirations. Participants took ideas with them that they could apply to their own practice.

Author Biographies

Ed Bickle, Bournemouth University

Ed Bickle is a Lecturer in Learning Development at Bournemouth University. He has extensive experience in widening participation research, and his primary interests lie in the lived experiences of widening participation students. He is currently undertaking research that examines the future role of Learning Development within the Higher Education sector.

Steph Allen, Bournemouth University

Steph Allen is a Senior Lecturer in Learning Development and Academic Integrity at Bournemouth University. Steph is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research interests are focused on learning development, academic integrity, academic offences, and the student and staff experience. She is involved in academic integrity projects within the university and is also a committee member of the University and College Union (UCU) focusing on working conditions.

Marian Mayer, Bournemouth University

Marian Mayer is a Principal Academic, leading a small team of Learning Development practitioners at Bournemouth University. Her research interests include challenging neoliberalism in higher education, transformative education, widening participation, the student experience, HE policy, and student retention and success. Marian has published on the subjects of reclaiming higher education, the neoliberal agenda in HE and transformative education. Marian’s praxis is deeply embedded in research and education practice, primarily within the context of Learning Development.


Bickle, E., Bishopp-Martin, S., Canton, U., Chin, P., Johnson, I., Kantcheva, R., Nodder, J., Rafferty, V., Sum, K., and Welton, K. (2021) ‘Emerging from the third space chrysalis: experiences in a non-hierarchical, collaborative research community of practice’, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 18(7), pp.35-158. Available at: https://doi.org/10.53761/ (Accessed: 21 October 2022).

Hilsdon, J. (2011) ‘What is learning development?’ In: Hartley, P., Hilsdon, J., Keenan, C., Sinfield, S. and Verity, M. (eds.) Learning development in higher education. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp.13-27.

Whitchurch, C. (2008) ‘Shifting identities and blurring boundaries: the emergence of third space professionals in UK higher education’, Higher Education Quarterly, 62(4), pp.377-396. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2273.2008.00387.x (Accessed: 21 October 2022).




How to Cite

Bickle, E., Allen, S. and Mayer, M. (2022) “Learning development 2030 ”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (25). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi25.972.