In a month where the Nobel Prize winning Vice-Chancellor of Australia National University (ANU), Professor Brian Schmidt, has become a Senior Fellow of the HEA, Kathryn Harrison Graves, Head of International Services at the HEA, reflects on the HEA’s growing collaboration in learning and teaching with institutions in Australia and New Zealand and HEA’s growing global community of teaching practice.
I must to start by congratulating Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice-Chancellor of Australia National University (ANU), on becoming a Senior Fellow of the HEA – it’s great news. I’m confident that Brian is the first Nobel Laureate in our growing ranks of Fellows! We are delighted to welcome him.
Brian’s quote following his successful application for Fellowship is important: he said, “I urge others to take this opportunity to have their engagement with our students valued and recognised”. I couldn’t agree more with his rallying-call: HEA Fellowship is a tangible demonstration of a professional commitment to learning and teaching; and I think that’s as important for the individual with the FHEA post nominal as it is in building trust with students and helping prospective students make their choices, and knowing more about the teaching quality in institutions. I’m not just beating the drum – we have the evidence of direct link between HEA Fellowship and effective student engagement.
While the status of teaching is ‘on the up’ it remains a challenge to gain parity with research - not just in Australia, New Zealand or the UK - but many HE providers, to properly reward and recognise great teaching and to use that recognition as a spring board in the pursuit of teaching excellence. It’s been our business to encourage institutions to lead from the front in doing this.
As part of our global strategy which, incidentally, now sees us working in more than 25 countries, we’ve been collaborating with institutions in Australia, and in New Zealand through a partnership with Ako Aotearoa, the National Centre Tertiary Teaching Excellence and to reward and recognise great teaching by accrediting courses and recognising staff through HEA Fellowship.
Using the (UK) professional standard framework (PSF) as a starting point , and contextualising it where necessary to meet country specific needs, institutions, and individuals for that matter, have a comprehensive set of professional standards and guidelines, tried and tested – unique in the world in fact - for all staff involved in teaching and supporting learning in HE; and it can be applied to personal development programmes at individual or institutional level to improve teaching quality. That’s what’s happened at ANU, one of four universities in Australia to subscribe to the HEA, where over 300 members of staff now have HEA Fellowship.
Other subscribing institutions are Queensland University of Technology (QUT), with over 100 HEA Fellows. QUT has a suite of HEA accredited programmes and professional development opportunities including a prize winning programme for those new to teaching. And following a successful pilot of an innovative new programme for lecturers, Murdoch University became a HEA subscribing institution and further developed the new course as a HEA accredited programme. With a growing team of Senior Fellows, the Murdoch teaching and learning team are now running the HEA accredited programme across the institution. At the University of Canberra, they are working with the HEA through an online project to support a number of key members of staff achieve their own professional recognition as either Senior or Principal Fellows of the HEA.
One of the great strengths of these interactions is growing network for learning and sharing in teaching excellence which is encouraging the development of best practice across the globe. And it firmly is an interaction – no single country or single institution has all the answers. At the University of Tasmania, one of the first of the HEA’s international subscribers, they have recently successfully accredited a professional development package for staff across the institution. They have used the PSF in some key institutional policies and strategies such as their ‘Teaching Performance Expectations’ which set out the institutional expectations in relation to teaching quality and support faculty in making applications for promotion based on the teaching performance.
As the National Centre for Tertiary Teaching Excellence, Ako Aotearoa, has supported a year-long initiative for three New Zealand universities to explore the professional standards framework, HEA recognition, and accreditation as an appropriate approach for the NZ HE sector. Through face-to-face workshops, webinars and virtual support Massey University, Auckland University of Technology and Unitec Institute of Technology are all supporting groups of staff to achieve international professional recognition as Fellows of the HEA. In addition to this, AUT have integrated the PSF with their newly developed Ako Aronui framework. Within the Ako Aronui framework, the key dimensions are taken from the PSF but contextualised with Maori philosophies, worldviews and values. This innovate approach has really shown the flexibility of the PSF and how it can be transferred to underpin developments in teaching and learning globally.
So this is snapshot of what’s being done in New Zealand and Australia. An important part of our role is share through communities of practice and I’ll be inviting those institutions to share their individual learning with us through this blog platform.
Find out more about the HEA's international services here: www.international.heacademy.ac.uk/