Dearing standard

May 9, 1997

THE CONCERN over the rumours of Dearing favouring a national training standard for university lecturers (THES, May 2) is understandable. If we are to take a student-centred rather than an institutional approach, the notion of a training standard becomes even more complex.

As well as the staff development associations, SEDA and UCoSDA, the Department for Education and Employment has been funding a Continuing Education Staff Development Network, (Empowering Education and Training Network) to examine a national training standard for lecturers working with part-time higher education students.

Our research indicates that part-time mature students have different learning needs. They often undertake their higher education studies in different arenas, including, the workplace, at home and in further education, rather than in higher education institutions.

Any initial or continuing professional training would need to take account of the very different needs of the (necessarily) increasingly diverse higher education student body. We are already working towards a properly recognised and standardised training framework for lecturers. We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Rather, why not draw together all those interested parties who have worked in the area over some time and pool expertise?

I am dismayed that the extensive work done over the last few years by different networks could be lost by yet another new network. Surely it is simply a waste of resources to start all over again.

Mary Stuart Chair, Empowering Education and Training Network University of Sussex ALAN THOMSON's report of my prepublication critique of the Dearing report (THES, May 2) was an admirable precis of my comments save in one respect, research.

What I actually said was "so let the best, which in Britain may number no more than six world-class research universities, be supported without distraction (that of teaching undergraduates) but with social and economic need and purpose being transparent".

For the rest, I advocated "a demonstrable commitment to scholarship, including pedagogic reflection, to the advancement and application of knowledge and to the training of future researchers".

Brian Roper

Vice chancellor

University of North London

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