In the second in this series on issues in Higher Education, this article will explore how the changes to funding might create a greater need for good teachers at HE level.
Prior to the implementation of the new funding regime, many universities preferred to employ researchers of international reputation rather than focus on people with excellent classroom skills. Of course it is possible to be an excellent researcher and teacher, but many scholars find it hard to develop their profile so that it is equally strong in both areas.
Previously in the government’s audits such as the RAE and REF, research reputation has been a key part of determining the amount of money a particular department receives.
Why might this change?
Increasingly universities are going to be under pressure to market themselves more vigorously to attract the best quality students and to ensure their student numbers remain buoyant. Falling student numbers could leave departments vulnerable to closure or merger and might even result in redundancies for academic staff.
One way of attracting students in the future will be to emphasise the quality of the teaching offered at the institution. So applicants who have focused on improving their own teaching practice might be seen as increasingly more attractive.
How will this affect jobseekers?
Publications and achieving external funding will continue to be seen as crucial, so make every effort to boost these areas of your CV. However, it will also be important to consider your teaching profile as well.
It is vital to acquire as wide a range of teaching expertise as possible, in a range of institutions and on a variety of courses. It is also important for junior scholars to take an HE teaching qualification as early as possible in their career. If you are offered this opportunity while doing your PhD or immediately afterwards, then take it. Otherwise you will be required to take this qualification when you get your first permanent job.
Once you get further on in your career, make sure that you focus on your continued professional development. Your university will offer day or short courses that enable you to hone your teaching practice or theory. And make sure you keep a record of these courses so that you can add them to your CV.
Being seen as innovative and inspirational in some way will also be impressive, especially if you can illustrate results. This can be a challenge, especially at the start of your career when you are struggling to keep on top of a heavy teaching load, but it is important to develop your career in this way.
Why is teaching important?
You not only have to show that you are an innovative teacher but also that your results have achieved significant changes for your department. If you have created a new teaching approach or technique that has been adopted by your department or faculty, this is an excellent example to include on your CV.
However, also important are teaching methods that change student experience. This is what hiring committees will be most interested in during the coming years and months. So, for example, if you developed a new way of teaching that resulted in improved student satisfaction with the course, or improved students’ results, then it will be vital to describe this in either the covering letter or CV on your next job application.