The evaluation of 'research excellence' is well established in many parts of the world, resulting in a range of rankings and league tables. There is also a new international focus on measuring 'teaching excellence' and metrics are being developed in a number of countries including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada. The UK’s 'Teaching Excellence Framework' (TEF) is being watched with interest, with proposals to develop and pilot a workable subject-based TEF of particular interest.
In the UK as elsewhere, research-intensive universities (RIUs) have been challenged to provide evidence of how the ‘research-led teaching’ they claim to offer results in a superior learning experience for students. Responses to this challenge have been variable, and politicians in the UK remain unconvinced of the inherent value of ‘research-led teaching’.
There are lessons here for RIUs around the world. In a higher education context that is characterised by a growing consumerist view of university education, greater accountability for outcomes, pressure to equate teaching quality with the number of contact hours, and a trend towards open - and much quicker - access to research findings which are freely available to teachers in all types of institutions (beyond RIUs), there is a need to redefine the unique nature of education in a research intensive university.
At the University of Birmingham, we are reframing the concept of ‘research-led teaching’ with a shift to the more dynamic concept of ‘research-intensive learning’. Over the next year, we will be asking ourselves (staff and students) what it means for students at all levels of our provision to be engaged in research-intensive learning, and what kinds of teaching and assessment are most likely to deliver our ambitions.
Take part in the Big Conversation themed discussion on defining research-intensive learning, launched on Monday 23rd October, 2017.
Also take a look at a U21 Position Statement that was developed here at University of Birmingham last autumn.
Also in 'Our University'