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Civil servants put your pens down

Monday 04-01-2016 - 17:05

We’ve already written a teaching and learning excellence framework that’s actually about teaching quality

During a period when teaching quality is a hot topic, currently even being weaponised by government to pursue their agenda, I’m pleased to take this opportunity to launch two new NUS resources. They are designed to support students’ unions working on enhancing education in their institutions, what we mean by teaching quality.

We’ve responded to requests from students’ unions and policy passed at National Conference by developing education benchmarking tools and have now compiled these into a ‘Comprehensive Guide to Learning and Teaching’ and a new interactive tool: ‘Education Benchmarking Online’.

NUS and students’ unions exist to improve the education available to our members and harness the collective power of students for campaigning to change their education experience for the better and for future generations. However, improving learning and teaching can often feel complex and overwhelming. Often institutions will tell you that things are too difficult, or not possible, or that its students’ fault that they do not find their education engaging.

We have consistently argued that higher fees and marketisation will not lead to improvements in quality, but rather real partnership and honest conversations with students. Indeed, whilst there is no evidence to suggest that higher fees and a competitive sector have led to improvements in students’ learning experiences (as was hoped for by the 2010 reforms) and might achieve the opposite, we know that student voice and input is essential. The Higher Education Academy has highlighted how NUS have become central to nationwide initiatives to improve learning and teaching, and how students’ unions are central to institutional initiatives.

Student engagement is about more than pointing out the problems with higher education courses and instead starting to suggest solutions, mobilising and working together with staff to improve our academic communities.

These resources aim to do just that. With ‘Education Benchmarking Online’, you can share your evaluations of your institution’s provision with other unions, to find out new areas of good practice in other universities. With the ‘Comprehensive Guide’, you can explore common problems in learning and teaching quality, and evidence the need for change at your institution. Some might say we’ve already written a teaching excellence framework that actually is about teaching quality…

We need to be more bold, creative, radical and inclusive about how we work to ensure every single student can have the opportunity for fulfilling and rich higher education experiences. NUS and students’ unions need to lead the way on transforming education for the better.

As I’ve already written, everything we do for progressive educational change is fundamentally political and can change students’ lives. Students have always been at the vanguard of change, let’s keep it that way.

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