Teaching paths

September 21, 2007

Bristol University's initiative to provide a career "pathway" for its teachers ("Bristol opens career path to give teachers equal footing", September 14) is welcome, but its proposals raise important issues:

It would appear to be mainly concerned with the "hidden workforce" via what it calls "pathway three".

It does nothing for those in the mainstream with duties to teach and research who wish to be considered for rewards in both areas, as against the still strong culture that "considers teaching to be a normal duty of all academic staff, while it considers research to be - in a telling phrase - an academic's 'own work' and administration a 'chore' that at times ought to be rewarded just because it is a chore".

Indeed, it strengthens the divide between teaching and research by the unnecessary nomenclature "professorial teaching fellow" instead of "professor" and so on, which in today's climate will devalue the perception of the new grades.

I hope Bristol will take due note of the recommendations in my and Patricia Partington's 1993 report to the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, Teaching Standards and Excellence in Higher Education , from which the quote in point two is taken. It covers the concerns of the university and much more and is as valid now as it was then.

Lewis Elton
Honorary visiting professor
Manchester University

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