The prospect of a compulsory training scheme for lecturers has prompted vice chancellors to set up a working party on teaching chaired by former Oxford Brookes vice chancellor Clive Booth.
The group will meet for the first time in June to thrash out a mechanism for training ahead of any recommendations from Sir Ron Dearing's inquiry. Early indications are that Sir Ron considers initial training of lecturers a priority and that a universal qualification could be introduced by next year.
Vice chancellors want to ensure that they are in control of the change and Dr Booth said he hoped the group would work out a "classically British" flexible solution. "Everyone expects Dearing to give a strong push towards a systematic approach to the delivery of teaching and learning in universities," he said. "The important thing is not to attempt to force institutions into a national straitjacket."
The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals which established the working group said it supported the idea of national accreditation for training courses and that the sector wanted to take responsibility for its formation.
But deciding which model to adopt is causing disagreement among competing organisations.
A CVCP seminar in London yesterday explored international perspectives on training lecturers. Graham Gibbs of the Open University said there was now conclusive evidence that academic excellence in research was unrelated to excellence in teaching. However, the "vast majority" of academics in higher education still had little or no training as teachers.