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IBLC11-Abstract-The role of Critical Friends in supporting institutions in moving from innovation to institutional enhancement.

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Nannayi Dakat
16 May 2011

Author: Prof Peter Chatterton


In recent years, HE institutions have undertaken numerous innovation projects funded by agencies such as the Higher Education Academy and JISC. It has been found that effective support to such innovation projects is essential to their success, particularly in ensuring sustainable innovation, embedding of new practice and ultimately, institutional enhancement. The Higher Education Academy and JISC have experimented with and evaluated different models of project support, through initiatives such as Pathfinder, the latest Academy enhancement work and a number of JISC innovation programmes e.g. Users and Innovation ( and Curriculum Design/Delivery ( One increasingly popular support approach is the use of the ‘Critical Friend’ (CF), often (but not exclusively) associated with CAMEL groups where projects come together in a spirit of open collaboration to share ideas/experience (see 

This paper will highlight how the Critical Friend role can, and has been used to support institutions in ensuring innovation projects lead to institutional enhancement and will draw on the experiences of CFs, project teams, the Academy and JISC. It will offer responses to key issues such as:

•  What “effective” critical friends do in helping institutions move from innovation to institutional enhancement.


•  What are the key skills and experience required of critical friends. 


•  How innovation projects can exploit critical friends to ensure a strong focus on institutional enhancement.


•  What are the potential disadvantages or issues with this role and how does this role differ from other established roles in project support, such as evaluator?


•  How can projects ensure the quality and effectiveness of their Critical Friends?


In preparation for the session, participants are invited to review the current guidance on the role of Critical Friend at Participants will be invited to contribute to the ongoing development of the associated community of practice.


Keywords: Critical Friend; Institutional enhancement; CAMEL groups; project embedding; sustainability.

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You can view the "Critical Friends and Effective Practice" web-site at

Peter Chatterton
16:03 on 1 June 2011

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