Liam Burns, the president of the National Union of Students, has led calls for higher education lecturers to be in attainment of formal teaching qualifications before taking up teaching positions in university, in a bid to ensure that students paying high tuition fees are getting the best possible teaching standards.
Burns believes that universities now need to recognise the need to make improvements in their teaching standards, starting with seminars and lectures. Burns includes those seminars that are led by postgraduate students, something that universities are increasingly using as a cheap alternative to professional academics.
A recent report from the NUS on university experience says that teaching standards are the most important ingredient for a successful university career, and actually outweighs other factors such as facilities or contact time. Speaking on the eve of the annual NUS conference, Burns spoke of his shock that it was not already legal obligation for university lecturers to gain formal qualifications.
Burns said: “From our point of view, fees or no fees, we should always expect lecturers to try and improve the quality of teaching that students receive. I don’t think we make arguments on value for money. Personally, as a student, I don’t think it is that controversial for my teachers to be qualified to teach.”
This week’s National Union of Students conference will be Burns’ first since taking over as NUS president last year.