National Teaching Fellow 2007
Tim Bilham is Director of Education Research & Development in the School for Health at the University of Bath.
He has had a hugely varied career, working with learners all over the world, but says that he is “still humbled, and inspired, by the commitment and dedication shown by adult learners in so many walks of life: learners for whom higher education opportunities have been often denied.” He cites a young student from a mining community in South Yorkshire as an early inspiration. This student had to hide her books in a locker at the University because her husband would not have tolerated her studying there. This was pre-Educating Rita, but, Tim says, was typical of the commitment shown by students.
Throughout his career, Tim has demonstrated that widening access while retaining standards is not only possible but actually results in some of the very best learning opportunities available. He has taught adults in all sorts of places, including pubs and church halls, Wakefi eld High Security prison, Africa, and, increasingly, online.
At Bath, Tim established the fi rst distance learning, e-learning and adult education programmes. He began using interactive learning activities as early as 1974 when he created an integrated audio and illustrative text for an OU technology course. At Bath he has used technology in increasingly more sophisticated ways and leads teams at the forefront of e-learning delivery.
Working with healthcare professionals, he initiated a project called ‘GPConnect’ within a large general practice, designing a private online environment for doctors to share professional concerns (PUNS – patients’ unmet needs) and to continue their education (DENS – doctors’ educational needs). He also initiated ‘virtual clinics’ in a postgraduate course for doctors to bring authentic, practice-based learning to healthcare professionals studying at a distance, including overseas.
Tim has been influential nationally. In 1995 he took part in the HEFCE Continuing Vocational Education Advisory Board, which started the first major strand of funding for universities and colleges in England in support of widening access. Shortly after this, he became a consultant for UNCTAD and the World Trade Organisation and the Latvian Ministry of Education, and was Director for two major development aid projects in open and distance learning in Namibia and Botswana.
Direcyor of Studies: Primary Care
University of Bath