NUS calls for lecturer qualifications

Sophia Klein - News Reporter 27 April 2012

President of the National Union of Students (NUS), Liam Burns, has called for university lecturing staff nationwide to obtain teaching qualifications as a prerequisite for securing their positions.

Burns argued that with students now funding the university system considerably by contributing up to £9,000 a year in fees, expectations of teaching standards have risen significantly. He said: ‘it is not controversial for my teachers to be qualified to teach’.

The suggestion to improve academic standards by expecting lecturers to acquire teaching qualifications was offered by Lord Browne in a review of university funding in 2010, but was met with such opposition from universities attempting to protect ‘institutional independence’ that it was never pursued.

A spokesperson from the University of Cambridge said: ‘the University recruits the best academics from an international pool, and believes that local provision is more appropriate than a national arrangement.’ Whether the NUS are campaigning for the enforcement of a national teaching standard for university lecturers or simply more teaching support and mentoring within each individual institution remains unclear. The University of Cambridge also emphasises student feedback as being ‘extremely important’ in their assessment of teaching standards.

Morgan Wild, CUSU Education Officer, spoke in favour of Burns’ claim: ‘no academic or postgraduate can reasonably be expected to be naturally talented at all of the skills that effective and inclusive teaching requires – everyone who teaches students should be provided with an extensive programme of training in how to teach: ‘To do otherwise is unfair on academics and unfair on students.’

He added: ‘CUSU has long campaigned for all supervisors and lecturers to receive mandatory training (an objective we’ve achieved for postgraduates) and we welcome NUS’s attempts to tackle this issue at a national level.’

Sophia Klein – News Reporter