ILT to revise unwieldy membership plan

May 14, 1999

The Institute for Learning and Teaching is to scrap its proposed membership scheme, which many academics have criticised as unscholarly.

Roger King, vice-chancellor of Lincolnshire and Humberside University and chair of the ILT's planning group, said that more than 300 responses had made it clear that a new route to membership with "a much lighter touch" was needed. The details will be worked out in the next fortnight.

Membership of the body recommended by Sir Ron Dearing to raise the status of university teaching will not be compulsory for lecturers, but it is expected to become the norm for all staff. Membership is likely to be a condition of promotion and could be a factor in university funding formulas.

But when academics received proposals for routes to membership that required them to present evidence of competence in 24 "teaching outcomes", many were outraged and said the approach was unworkable (THES, April 9).

The new route to membership is likely to focus on just five broad competences. These are: designing and planning a course; teaching and supporting learning in a subject; assessing students' learning achievements; contributing to student support systems; and evaluating and supporting the teaching process.

It has yet to be decided whether lecturers will need to present evidence of ability to teach if they have successfully completed a probationary period.

The institute is to be launched at its base on York University's science park on June 23 by further and higher education minister Baroness Blackstone.

* Lecturers who can demonstrate exceptional teaching ability will be able to bid for a national teaching fellowship if plans are ratified by the Higher Education Funding Council for England next month.

The scheme is expected to attract a substantial sum from HEFCE, whose board will see an outline of options next month.

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