Investing in teaching can create a more efficient university

Good teaching can have a positive impact on a university’s efficiency levels. Lucy Haire of the Higher Education Academy explains the benefits of investing in good teaching.

What is the one, and possibly only thing that all higher education institutions have in common? They all teach.

The consequences of bad teaching can be dramatic – underperformance, higher dropout rates and much missed potential. It’s inefficient for the individual, the institution and wider society. Underperforming higher education teachers are losing out too if they are not being given opportunities to make best use of their time.

So it makes sense, in fact it is critical, to strive for better teaching at the stretch end as well as the baseline. It’s worth investing in best practice and providing opportunities for those prepared to engage.

The Higher Education Academy (HEA), where I have had the privilege of working for the past nine months, encourages good teaching through frameworks, tools and opportunities to share best practice.

For example, we run three student surveys – the UK postgraduate research, postgraduate taught, and undergraduate engagement surveys – which go beyond simple satisfaction statistics to provide data on how students are engaging with their studies.

The HEA offers formal recognition too to those involved in elevating higher education teaching through its fellowship scheme. There are also masterclasses, coaching, national teaching awards and regular opportunities for higher education staff at every level to network. Operating as a national body, the HEA works with a critical mass of institutions which allows for benchmarking and scaled collaboration.

Tangible cost savings

There are so many efficiency benefits for universities which invest in better teaching. Attainment, engagement and satisfaction levels improve and make an institution more attractive. A more attractive institution finds it easier to recruit both students and staff which can feed directly into tangible cost-savings.

In the spring 2015 Hepi/HEA academic experience survey, students valued their lecturers’ teaching qualifications much more than their research credentials. There is an increasing pressure on teaching staff to gain some sort of formal accreditation.

Higher education as a marketplace is unusual. The buyers (students) are largely making a one-off decision about which university or college to attend. They need help, and so do the sellers.

There’s certainly a growing appetite for the HEA’s teaching enhancement offer. Fellowship has reached record levels, with nearly 63,000 fellows now registered. And more and more countries across the globe are seeking our services to develop their own frameworks, toolkits and best practice.

Lucy Haire, partnership manager, the Higher Education Academy

  • The views expressed are my own.
Lucy Haire
Lucy is head of sales and marketing at LiftUpp