UK engineering academics believe that the quality of their teaching has little value on their careers, according to a report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The report, "Does teaching advance your academic career?", based on interviews and surveys of the engineering academic community, found a profound difference between the perceptions of university managers and those delivering education through teaching.

Almost three quarters (74%) of engineering lecturers considered that teaching was not an important criterion for promotion to professorship, while over three quarters (77%) of senior managers reported teaching excellence to be "very” or “somewhat” important for promotion at their institution.

Dr Rhys Morgan, Director of Engineering and Education at the Academy, said:

“The main conclusion we draw from this this study is that there is a negative perception among engineering lecturers of the extent to which teaching is valued by their academic institutions, despite the latter declaring teaching as a key priority. There is a risk that such attitudes may affect the quality of teaching itself, with lecturers investing less effort in an activity that they see as not being relevant to their career prospects.

“Universities need to take action to change these perceptions among academics and show, through their promotions procedures, that teaching quality does matter to them. The Royal Academy of Engineering will work with the academic engineering community to build robust measures of teaching excellence for academic progression and promote them across the higher education sector.”

The report identified a series of issues deeply ingrained in university culture including the overwhelming emphasis on research reputation and income when it comes to promotion, academic mobility and allocation of resources.

Although its results are drawn from within the engineering education community, its conclusions and recommendations are widely applicable to the UK university system.

The report proposes four initiatives to encourage recognition of teaching excellence and to reinstate trust within the academic community:

  • Improve the transparency of promotion decisions
  • Develop a robust set of metrics to demonstrate teaching achievement
  • Clarify the teaching-based promotion criteria for both teaching-focused and “standard” teaching and research (T&R) promotions
  • Realign departmental resource allocations to reflect the quality of teaching.

 

Notes for Editors

  1. The report: "Does teaching advance your academic career. Perspectives of promotion procedures in UK engineering schools", will be available to download on the Academy’s website at www.raeng.org.uk/teachingpromotion
  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering.

    We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges: Drive faster and more balanced economic growth; foster better education and skills; lead the profession; promote engineering at the heart of society.

For more information please contact:

Giorgio De Faveri at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0655
E: Giorgio De Faveri

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