Trojan horse needed

April 7, 2000

I was disappointed to read that women in the Association of University Teachers have called for a union ballot to consider rejecting the Institute for Learning and Teaching, on the grounds that it puts too much financial and time pressure on individuals ("Women attack ILT red tape and sexism", THES, March 24).

I started my career as a lecturer 30 years ago. When I wrote my first course and gave my first lecture I had nothing to draw on except my experience of being a student.

Some five years later at another institution, I joined fellow enthusiasts at a monthly forum to discuss, develop and test our competence as lecturers, tutors and course designers. Our reward for this: a certificate of attendance.

Today when new staff join the University of Portsmouth, they are required to take our postgraduate certificate. They are supported by a mentor and allowed time for study. The course is accredited by the ILT - it was the first such course to be accredited - and it provides a route to membership, which institutionally we encourage.

Why? We support the ILT, believe it is genuine in its aspiration to involve its membership and are sponsoring initial membership of all staff.

Yes, the application requires reflection and takes time. But if women in the AUT are worried about the gender balance and representativeness of the accreditors' panel they can nominate or stand themselves.

Angela Glasner. Pro vice-chancellor (academic). University of Portsmouth

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