Back in the 1990s, both Loughborough University and Coventry University became acknowledged leaders in the field of university-wide mathematics support. They developed impressive track records, both individually and collaboratively, of providing exceptional mathematics support services. They established UK-wide and international dissemination activity to benefit those providing maths support in other HEIs. They provided leadership, and played key roles in relevant national projects. Their expertise and success would become recognised by the 2011 THE Award for Outstanding Student Support.
In 2005 a collaborative bid by Loughborough and Coventry to HEFCE as part of their Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning programme was successful, and in 2005 sigma was established as a collaborative Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) in the provision of mathematics and statistics support. The sigma CETL project ended on 31 July 2010. Its website (www.sigma-cetl.ac.uk) is now a legacy site, but remains a fascinating and valuable resource. See Celebrating Success for an overview of the sigma CETL project.
From 2010 until 2012, sigma was funded by the national HE Stem Programme to continue to work with the mathematics and statistics support community. It established a network of regional hubs, provided funding and other assistance to establish new maths support centres and enhance existing support provision, and supported specfic projects. More than the sum of its parts reports on progress in 2010/11 and And the winner is celebrates the growth and successes of maths support over this period.
From 2012 onwards, the work and spirit of sigma is upheld by the sigma Network, managed by a steering group of members from each of the regional hubs. This re-branded website, plus a new JISCMail mailing list, will help the sigma Network to continue to champion the cause of cross-university mathematics and statistics support, and provide developmental activities and expert mentoring for those who work in this area.
The sigma Network will also continue to organise the annual Continuing Excellence in Teaching and Learning in Maths, Stats and Operational Research Conference. The 2013 CETL-MSOR Conference will take place at the University of Coventry on 10th and 11th September 2013.