Tag Archives: Teaching Excellence Framework

Minister sets the scene for Higher Education: some brief comments

On the 9th September 2015 Jo Johnson MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, delivered a speech entitled ‘Higher education: fulfilling our potential’. The speech begins to lay out the direction of travel after a period during the coalition where there was much thinking and little action.
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Click image to view a larger version.

Word clouds are a crude device, but it is interesting that the big words are:

Students

“Students are the primary source of income for undergraduate study, but their interests are insufficiently represented in our structures and systems.”

It seems that now students are customers they should have more representation. Yet students do not generally see themselves in this way. Representation is not quite the same as partnership, which, although more challenging, would perhaps result in much more debate about what a university education should be all about.

Providers

“To ensure students have real choice that reflects their diverse needs, we must continue to open up the higher education market and put in place a regulatory framework that reflects today’s challenges.”

The idea of the development of new or much modified regulatory institutions that would, for example, take on the validation of degrees so that new providers do not need to partner with existing institutions would indeed open up the market. The question is, what sort of regulation, and how would it affect existing institutions? Martin Paul Eve of Birkbeck is clear in his blog that the aim is a huge financial shake-up of the whole system, using the proposed Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) as a key tool .

Participation

That is, widening participation (WP), remains firmly on the agenda with a plan to provide much better data so that work can be done to address issues around specific underrepresented groups. It is good news that WP is not being side-lined, which many thought might happen.

Teaching

There were some harsh words about the perceived variability of teaching quality in the speech;

“This patchiness in the student experience within and between institutions cannot continue. There is extraordinary teaching that deserves greater recognition. And there is lamentable teaching that must be driven out of our system. It damages the reputation of UK higher education and I am determined to address it.”

He went on to say;

“The new framework will aim to give students more information about the actual teaching they will receive, drive up student engagement with the learning process and reward universities that do most to stretch young – and also not so young – minds.”

On that last point, Johnson mentioned mature students in his speech but, as Mark Leach points out in his WonkHE blog, there is no reference to part time study. Indeed, there is nothing on postgraduate study either. The now much vaunted Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is not one of the big words in the word cloud, because as yet there is no clarity at all as to what TEF will look like or how it will be managed. There is a lot of discussion. A Green Paper is due in the autumn (that is, by the end of December), so there is very little time to move from muddle to clarity, and, if other sources are right, to get TEF1 in place for 2016 and to produce metrics that inform funding decisions. These decisions would then allow some institutions to raise fees in line with inflation, based on what can only be a very crude measure of teaching quality.

 

Anne Qualter

Learning & Teaching Conference 2015: Recognising and Sharing Teaching Excellence

This year’s Learning and Teaching conference, held in the Foresight Centre on the 2nd July 2015, once again showed an increase in the number of presentations and attendees discussing innovative practice in learning and teaching across The University of Liverpool.

Professor Daniella Tilbury, inaugural Vice Chancellor of the University of Gibraltar, opened the conference by asking staff to discuss the meaning of ‘Learning to Change’ and ‘Sustainability’ amongst themselves before presenting a talk that asked delegates to think hard about the purpose of a university education for students and society.

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Professor Daniella Tilbury, inaugural Vice Chancellor of the University of Gibraltar, delivering her keynote speech

This set the tone for a lively, engaging, and enjoyable conference with a record number of delegates able to choose from 58 presentations and workshops on offer (all abstracts available here) from staff from across the university and some of our partner institutions. A number of the presentations were co-delivered with students, which always adds an additional perspective.

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Jimmy Fan Zai Fu from the Singapore Institute of Technology (a University of Liverpool partner institution) presents ‘Adopting the principles of Taichi in teaching: a Singapore story’
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Dr Luciane V Mello from the School of Life Sciences presents ‘Reflective research project assessment using PebblePad’
Drs Faye Bradshaw and Matthew James from the School of Health Sciences present 'An Adventure in Team Based Learning'
Drs Faye Bradshaw and Matthew James from the School of Health Sciences present ‘An Adventure in Team Based Learning’

Professor Gavin Brown, our new Pro-Vice Chancellor for Education, gave the afternoon address. His presentation comprised an overview of the fast-changing national context for Learning and Teaching, including the ‘hot off the press’ setting up of a process to develop a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). He then spoke about the university strategic review and his early thoughts on an Education Strategy.

Two further presentations showcasing innovative learning and teaching practice were delivered by two Faculty winners of the Sir Alistair Pilkington awards for teaching excellence – Dr Georgina Turner from Media and Communications, and Dr Ali Al-Ataby from Electrical Engineering and Electronics. The conference was also the launch event for the new lecture capture software developed by the Computing Services Department.

Overall, the conference provided an opportunity for many colleagues to share their enthusiasm for learning and teaching, and to learn about other innovative learning and teaching practice that is happening across our institution.

Trish Lunt and Patrick Doherty