Royal Society calls for teaching boost

January 17, 1997

THE ROYAL Society has told the Dearing inquiry into higher education that a teaching and learning council should be created to encourage innovative, high-quality teaching in universities, writes Kam Patel.

The society also argues that, given funding restraints, research funds should be allocated more selectively and arrangements made to help promising work outside established departments. It believes that most of the main benefits of the research assessment exercise have been achieved.

"A more streamlined process should be introduced, with fewer administrative demands made on university departments," it said. The society also calls for a study of "inadvertent effects" the RAE may have had on the nature of research.

* The Institute of Education argues that the ability of the United Kingdom to create a "learning society" should be one of the key issues addressed by the inquiry.

Unlike the "information society", a learning society, in which everyone is an active learner, is not inevit- able: "It is a question of policy. For the Dearing committee it could be said to be the central question."

Coordinated academic research will be crucial for creating this environment. The institute wants a subcommittee to be created at the Economic and Social Research Council so that the council can better judge research proposals in the disparate areas of education.

The institute says that as teachers can now earn more than university lecturers, it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit to the institute bright, able lecturers who can bring both scholarship and professional expertise.

The institute also recommends that all teachers in higher education undergo training for teaching, for which they would receive a certificate or diploma or some form of professional accreditation.

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