The heads of schools group within ECLAS aims to provide a platform for those who are responsible for running departments or programmes to discuss issues of common and mutual interest. The term Heads of School refers to anyone – it could be the dean of a faculty, head of department, head of a programme or programme group – who has responsibility for aspects such as student recruitment, programme development, staff management, budget responsibility, research management. Many schools are struggling financially, some face pressures from university administrators who do not understand that landscape architecture does not fit neatly into a pigeon hole, some have student recruitment problems, face challenges over teaching quality, space resources etc.
The group was set up informally and met in Istanbul at the 2010 conference. A group of people who fitted the criteria as noted above met over lunch and informally presented themselves and raised issues which were of interest. This kind of meeting continued in Sheffield in 2011, Warsaw in 2012 and in the Rome Landscape Forum in 2013 the group was finally able to move from short meetings with no substantive content to carry out a concrete task of writing a position paper on the possible role and focus of the group. This was discussed further in Hamburg 2013 and in Porto in 2014 a longer a richer meeting will be held with a formal agenda and a lot of things to discuss.
In 2014 the first survey of the status of the academic discipline across Europe was carried out. This asked many questions related to the viability and sustainability of the discipline among the member schools. The results are being compiled into a report which will be available here (coming soon).