Ability to link teaching and research should decide jobs, academy says

November 4, 2005

An academic's success in landing the right job and climbing the career ladder should depend on his or her ability to link teaching and research, the Higher Education Academy said this week, writes Anthea Lipsett.

Mike Prosser, the academy's director of research and evaluation, told The Times Higher that all types of institution - research-intensive and teaching-led - must develop the link between teaching and research.

Dr Prosser was speaking ahead of next week's HEA conference on teaching and research links at which the agency will launch a guide on encouraging such links.

"To be appointed, academics would have to show they integrate research and teaching, and a key aspect in staff getting promoted would be manifesting that research in their teaching," Dr Prosser said.

"Students should graduate having developed inquiry and research-based skills, which needs a good relationship between teaching and research.

"Institutions have to set out to develop that relationship and set up structures, policies and processes to allow that to happen."

The HEA conference comes on the back of £25 million in government funding to encourage research-informed teaching announced in October.

Dr Prosser said that while universities were not obliged to forge links between teaching and research, it was definitely in their interests to do so.

He said: "Different sorts of institutions will think about it in different ways. Most will want to ensure their curriculum is informed by the most up-to-date research in their field.

"I would also like to see the research aspect of the university integrating with teaching."

For instance, he said, one of the criteria for securing a research grant from the US National Science Foundation was to show how research related to the undergraduate student experience.

The guide was written by Alan Jenkins, higher education professor at Oxford Brookes University, and Mick Healey of Gloucestershire University.

It is designed to help institutions review their policies and decide on what other measures they might introduce to strengthen the teaching-research relationship.

Professor Jenkins said: "We must move away from this exclusive and very narrow emphasis on the individual teacher being both a good teacher and researcher to an emphasis on student learning.

"The key thing is to organise institutions and departments so that all students have research-informed teaching, since that's what distinguishes higher education."

The guide is available at www.heacademy.ac.uk/resources.asp .

Hea strategy

  • Develop curriculum requirements to link teaching and research across all courses
  • Develop specific projects that link institutional teaching and research strategies to benefit student learning
  • Fund projects to support innovations in particular areas of the curriculum, such as dissertation
  • Ensure the promotion structures reward staff who effectively link teaching and research
  • Ensure that research strategy helps support the (undergraduate) curriculum

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