Agony aunt

September 7, 2001

Sally Brown Director of membership services, Institute for Learning and Teaching

The Institute for Learning and Teaching was set up as a result of the 1997 Dearing report with a remit to enhance the status of teaching, improve the experience of learning and support innovation in higher education.

Since it was set up, we have worked closely with the two main teaching unions, both of which are represented on our governing council.

Joining is straightforward. You may be automatically eligible if:

  • You have completed one of the 90 ILT-accredited teaching programmes (listed on our website at )
  • You are registered with the UK Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting with a recorded teaching qualification
  • You hold the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work practice teaching award.

Alternatively, until July 2002, you can apply through the initial entry route for experienced staff, if you have been teaching in higher education for at least three years (one year for associates).

This involves providing an evaluative account of your work in relation to planning and preparation, teaching, assessment and feedback and developing the educational environment and reflection.

Each section should be about 500 words long and the application needs to be supported by two referees who know your work. The website provides more information.

More than 5,000 people have applied this way, and many of them have said it is a great way to reflect on your teaching. Most say completing the application form takes between two hours and a wet Sunday.

Annual membership is £75 (£49 for associates) and is tax deductible. The initial entry route has a processing fee of £25. Members' benefits include regular updates on research and developments in learning and teaching through our publications (journal, newsletter and books) as well as fortnightly members-only email briefings via the members' resource area of the website.

Members can also attend free or low-cost regional members' forums and can receive discounts at our annual conference.

Lots of people would encourage you to go ahead with your ILT application. The National Union of Students and the National Postgraduate Committee advocate ILT membership to ensure that students are taught by well-qualified and experienced staff.

ILT membership and associateship offer post-nominal letters, and higher education institutions across the UK promote ILT membership among their staff, in many cases linking membership to some form of career advancement. Indeed, 86 per cent are paying members' fees for the first year.

But do not join the ILT because someone else expects you to do it. Membership should be compelling rather than compulsory. Join, like the 8,500-plus applicants to date, because it will help you to do your job better, to be part of a wider learning and teaching community and to get recognition for the effort, energy and expertise that you put into your teaching role.

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