High-flying lecturers wooed with lucrative awards

June 25, 1999

A new Pounds 1 million per year award scheme is about to be launched for outstanding lecturers

Outstanding lecturers will be eligible for a share of a new Pounds 1 million scheme designed to encourage teaching excellence in higher education.

The Higher Education Funding Council announced this week that it would be launching the first national teaching fellowship award worth Pounds 1 million a year from 2000. The scheme, which echoes similar initiatives in the US, is to be run by the new Institute for Learning and Teaching. Chief executive Paul Clark stressed that the fellowship idea was still in its infancy and detailed arrangements had yet to be worked out. "These prestigious awards will give proper recognition to the contributions made by first-class teachers in a wide range of subjects," he said. It is likely that about 20 awards will be made each year and universities and colleges will be invited to nominate individual lecturers. Successful applicants could each be awarded around Pounds 50,000, and the money is designed to be an incentive to further develop teaching initiatives rather than simply to reward high-fliers.

Dr Clark said he thought the award was likely to be used to relieve academics from some of their duties, enabling them to be dedicated to a teaching-related project for a period of time. This might be, for example, developing new teaching materials, textbooks or new technology tools, or improving delivery methods or assessment practices.

Judging criteria will be worked out by an advisory committee set up by the Institute. "Nothing of this scale has so far been available in the United Kingdom and we expect a significant response from the sector," Dr Clark said.

HEFCE described the fellowship scheme as fundamental to the delivery of its new learning and teaching strategy, which is designed to redress the balance between teaching and research in universities. Sir Brian Fender, HEFCE chief executive, said the council's approach was aiming to create an impact at both national and local level. "This two-pronged strategy will help to elevate the status of learning and teaching in a way which will recognise the important contribution that they make to students, the economy and society," he said.

In April, HEFCE announced it was setting up a Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund worth Pounds 26 million in 1999-2000, rising to Pounds 32 million in 2001-02. In addition, HEFCE is expecting to issue guidance to institutions next month on developing learning and teaching strategies to enable them to improve their own reward systems for high-quality teaching.

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