A study trip to the UK that took place from 5 to 11 November 2017 was organised for the Working group and members of the Educa-T project team. The purpose of the study trip was to get acquainted with the good practice and regulations in the area of enhancing competences for academic teaching in the United Kingdom
The participants of the study trip visited the following institutions: Universities UK, SEDA (Staff and Educational Development Association), Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), Quality Assurance Agency and Brunel University, all situated in London; Higher Education Academy in York and Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership at the University of Edinburgh.
The Universities UK is the voice of universities, helping to maintain the world-leading strength of the UK university sector and supporting their members in achieving their aims and objectives. A representative of the Universities UK presented an overview of the higher education system in the UK, the assessment framework, the teaching excellence framework and the UK professional standards framework. The mission of the Universities UK is to shape the higher education policy agenda, engaging directly with policy makers and other stakeholders. They also maintain strong and proactive relationships with the government, the private sector, professions and sector agencies.
SEDA is a professional association for staff and education developers in the UK, promoting innovation and good practice in higher education. A SEDA representative presented to us its core mission: the advancement of education for the benefit of the public, particularly through improving educational and professional development in higher education. To this end, SEDA offers its members and the wider education community, including university- and college-based higher education, relevant and valued activities, professional recognition opportunities and publications. The conversation with the SEDA representative was guided by our previously submitted questions, as well as the questions asked during the meeting.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funds and regulates universities and colleges in England. It invests on behalf of students and the public to promote excellence and innovation in research, teaching and knowledge exchange. The HEFCE representatives introduced us with its work and presented the latest developments in the Teaching Excellence Framework.
The Quality Assurance Agency’s (QAA) mission is to safeguard standards and improve the quality of higher education in the UK wherever it is delivered around the world. The QAA is an expert independent quality body supporting a diverse system of co-regulation of higher education in the UK. The QAA also delivers valued services that provide assurance and drive quality enhancement, using their international reputation and partnerships to benefit higher education in the UK. A QAA representative gave us insight into the key elements of QAA reviews, the recent higher education policy developments in the UK, a new regulatory and policy framework for higher education in the UK and the work of the QAA.
The Brunel University London celebrated 50 years as a university in 2016. The University currently has 12,746 students – with 3,309 students engaged in postgraduate and research study. The Head of the Department of Education and Head of Academic Practice presented the activities of the University, its structure, opportunities and requirements for academic staff development and the programme for teacher education at Brunel. In this context, a special emphasis has been given to The Staff Development Strategy 2016-2020 as a key document for professional development of academic staff at Brunel. This staff development strategy aims to cultivate and celebrate a community of staff committed to excellence and to uphold the University values. Our hosts presented the examples of good practice at Brunel such us The Academic Leadership Programme and Peer Enhancement of Practice.
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is a national body which champions teaching excellence. The HEA works with governments, ministries, universities and individual academics in the UK and around the globe. The HEA also provides value to the HE sector by focusing on the contribution of teaching as part of the wider student learning experience. The HEA representatives introduced us with its activities, as well as with its practice. The participants of the study trip got acquainted with the teaching and learning strategy, policy and legal conditions, as well as the teaching and learning policy, professional standards, competence frameworks, staff recognition and quality enhancement.
The final part of the study trip was dedicated to the Institute for Education, Teaching and Leadership at the University of Edinburgh. The representatives of the Institute presented the higher education system in Scotland and their best practice related to the support to teaching staff. One of the programmes for enhancing teaching competences is The Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice (PgCAP). Its aims are: to introduce the course participants to significant issues in relation to academic practice at a research-intensive institution and to provide the opportunity for participants to develop their academic practice in line with the vision set out in the UK Professional Standards Framework. This programme combines reference to theory and educational literature with practical application and makes use of a wide variety of teaching and assessment strategies to demonstrate good practice.