Why is EUR ranked last in that list?
According to figures recently published by VSNU, 47 per cent of EUR lecturers held basic teaching qualifications in 2015, while 48 per cent did so in 2018. These figures lag well behind the national average. Nationwide, 62 per cent of all lecturers working at Dutch universities hold basic teaching qualifications. Jeroen Jansz, the Managing Director of the Community for Learning & Innovation (CLI), says that EUR’s low percentage is partially due to the large number of lecturers on temporary contracts. “We don’t require such lecturers to obtain their basic teaching qualifications. We made a conscious choice not to do so.”
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Aren’t all lecturers working at universities required to obtain basic teaching qualifications?
Only lecturers on a permanent contract are required to obtain a basic university teaching qualification (or are exempted from doing so due to extensive teaching experience). They have the course fees reimbursed and are allotted time to do the course work, but lecturers on temporary contracts are neither allotted this time nor reimbursed for the fees. “It’s the eternal struggle to find enough hours in the day, because obtaining basic teaching qualifications is both time-consuming and expensive,” Jansz explains. “And many of our staff don’t have that time.”
So does this mean that half of my lecturers are teaching courses without ever having received any form of teacher training?
No, that is definitely not the case, Jansz explains. The university does quite a bit in terms of professional development for its lecturers. In addition to the courses that result in lecturers obtaining their basic or senior teaching qualifications, the university teaches many other courses for everyone who has ever been in charge of a room full of students.
For instance, teaching assistants and tutors teaching seminars attend training courses at the Tutor Academy. Lecturers on temporary contracts, too, are welcome to attend teacher training courses at EUR, free of charge. For instance, they can do so at the micro labs taught by the Community for Learning & Innovation (CLI). Each session takes a few hours and deals with a particular aspect of teaching. Everyone who successfully completes a session gets a special mention in EUR’s human resources records. However, these mentions do not constitute a formal basic teaching qualification, meaning they are not included in VSNU’s records. “But there’s obviously a bit more to this story than what VSNU’s figures seem to suggest,” Jansz says in conclusion.
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So how many of my lecturers have actually received any kind of teacher training?
To be honest, we have no idea. Jansz is unwilling to hazard a guess, too because the differences between the faculties are large. According to EUR’s annual report 2018, 65.8 per cent of the university’s assistant professors, associate professors and full professors either held basic teaching qualifications in that year or were exempt from obtaining such qualifications due to extensive teaching experience. At the time the annual report was written, 16.4 per cent of lecturers were working towards basic teaching qualifications, and a mere 18.1 per cent were still to embark on their training. However, many members of staff with teaching duties were not included in those figures. In the same year, 117 lecturers attended a micro lab session, while 44 lecturers held senior teaching qualifications, and training courses were being taught to tutors and PhD students, as well.
“In 2019, one hundred employees started working towards their basic teaching qualifications. Lecturers on permanent contracts who wish to be granted senior researcher or senior lecturer status must obtain senior teaching qualifications. They are allotted time and financial resources to obtain those qualifications.”
Many plans have been drawn up for the next few years to improve EUR’s degree programmes and lecturers’ teaching skills. These plans will be financed from the funds that became available when student grants were abolished. “It’s an ongoing process, but we’re heading in the right direction,” says Jansz.