The EU high-level group on modernisation of higher education published its first report on improving the quality of teaching and learning in universities.
The group, chaired by former President of Ireland Mary McAleese, makes 16 recommendations which include a call for mandatory certified training for professors and other higher education teaching staff, the integration of the assessment of teaching competence alongside other factors for academic staff entrance, progression and promotion and higher education institutions and supporting academic staff to develop skills for new forms of teaching and learning opened up by the digital era.
The Group found that many higher education institutions place insufficient emphasis on teaching on comparison with research and calls for a stronger attention to and recognition of the role of teaching in defining academic merit, especially in career terms. The greater diversity of the student body, in terms of cultural, economic and social backgrounds, makes the case for specific pedagogical training. In the same way as Europe already has a quantitative goal that 40% of its young people should achieve higher education qualifications by 2020, every teacher in higher education should be a trained professional teacher by the same date, to ensure the quality of those qualifications.
The High Level Group’s next report, to be published in June 2014 will examine “new modes of delivering quality higher education”, such as massive open online courses (MOOCS).