The learning circle of life

October 6, 1995

I was interested to read your article (THES, September 29) on the support and training for new academics. South Bank University has been at the forefront of these developments, offering an 'M' level Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education for academics keen to enhance their understanding of the process of teaching and learning in higher education.

The initial two units are mandatory, taught on one afternoon each week for the first year, the final two optional units being completed as staff choose over the following three years.

We have found that this not only gives academics a transferable qualification, but also provides them with a highly supportive network of colleagues across the university, enhancing their sense of belonging to an academic community.

Unlike a short "crash" course, our PGCHE allows time for staff to reflect on their teaching experiences with their peers, providing a valuable "learning circle". As part of the course, staff are able to take initiatives within their schools in improving the quality of teaching and learning and undertake research projects which make a useful contribution to their publications portfolio. The value of our in-depth programme was recently commended by Higher Education Quality Council auditors.

About 40 academics have enrolled on this autumn's course, both experienced and newly-appointed colleagues. With several subject quality assessments this year, the importance of demonstrating quality teaching alongside quality research cannot be underestimated.

Priscilla Chadwick

South Bank University

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