Letter: ILT inequalities

August 3, 2001

I am writing to support Gillian Howie's position on accreditation and the Institute for Learning and Teaching (Letters, THES , July 20).

Professional bodies already accredit many higher education courses in a process that involves a very thorough investigation of the department and teaching staff.

In addition there are very thorough teaching audits by the higher education councils, as well as the teaching quality auditing procedures of institutions themselves.

Academic and academic-related staff are already overworked and joining the ILT will add to the paper trail.

It is not clear what, if anything, the ILT will offer members for their application and annual membership fee. Many of the older universities already provide a wide range of free training and professional development courses, whereas ILT training costs money and is frequently inferior in scope and quality. It would be preferable to encourage other universities to develop their own training courses.

The ILT is unlikely to offer much to academic-related staff, who will probably be less likely to gain membership. Their exclusion could support attempts to deprofessionalise academic-related staff. Indeed, it may worsen the position of the increasing numbers of both academic and academic-related staff who are hourly paid or on short-term contracts, especially if departments make membership of the ILT de facto compulsory.

Marion Hersh
Department of electronics and electrical engineering
University of Glasgow

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