Midwifery teaching pressures 'threaten quality'

A worsening in the student-to-staff ratio in midwifery courses in recent years could be compromising the quality of teaching, a union has warned.

January 12, 2012

A Freedom of Information request by the Royal College of Midwives found that, of 49 institutions that responded, 41 do not adhere to the recommended ratio of one teacher to every 10 students.

The level was set by the English National Board for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting in 1993 as a required standard for such courses, but the obligation was dropped when the Nursing and Midwifery Council took over their regulation in 2002.

Despite this, both the RCM and the NMC have retained the ratio as an informal guide to teaching quality.

The FoI request found that the average student-to-teacher ratio nationally rose from 13 to 13.6 students per teacher between the academic years 2009-10 and 2010-11.

Thames Valley University, now the University of West London, had the worst ratio, with 23.5 students to every teacher. At the other end of the scale, the University of the West of England had the best, with 5.8 students to every teacher.

The study also found that fewer new teachers were being recruited, with only 6 per cent of midwifery teachers under the age of 40. The RCM called this a "growing cause for concern".

Cathy Warwick, general secretary of the RCM, said there needed to be a "sea change" in the investment and support given to recruiting and retaining midwifery teachers.

"The future of midwifery will be shaped and determined by leadership in education and research today. Protecting and nurturing midwifery educators is a major challenge for the whole profession and one that we must all embrace," she said.

She also complained that there was a paucity of information about the state of midwifery courses, something that she said needed to be addressed with further research.

sarah.cunnane@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Worried man wiping forehead
Two academics explain how to beat some of the typical anxieties associated with a doctoral degree

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

Cricket player and umpire exchanging bribe

The need to accommodate foreign students undermines domestic practices, says Lincoln Allison, spying parallels between UK universities and global sports bodies such as Fifa