The importance of a staff-student partnership for excellent teaching
Across the course of my year as Education Executive Officer, one of the points I have repeatedly made is the importance of a partnership between staff and students.This partnership can take a variety of forms – between Union and University; between a Programme Representative and the staff with whom they work; or simply between a student and their lecturers. What is most important, however, is the creation of environment whereby these two bodies can collaborate towards great teaching. I firmly believe that this is the culture that we have developed at Loughborough.
Whether it be through the usage of the Staff-Student Liaison Committee, or through talking to a lecturer to solve a problem, I think that we have developed a system here at Loughborough that means that great teaching can thrive. This can be evidenced through our recent successes in the National Student Survey, the Times Higher Education Student Experience survey, and the WhatUni Student Choice Awards, alongside other awards and recognition across the last few years.
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has been a large part of recognising our excellent teaching offer here at Loughborough. Whilst I ideologically disagree with the marketisation of Higher Education, the TEF has given us an opportunity to gather increasing amounts of evidence around our current teaching provision – however, more importantly than this, we have used the TEF as a means to identify areas of weakness within our current situation. This is a key facet of what makes Loughborough University so special – we are constantly striving to improve. A key example of this would be the “Excellence in Learning and Teaching” workshop hosted in November 2016. This event saw students, academics, professional services staff, and Union Executive collaborating to discuss areas of strength, weakness, and what excellence would look like. I can remember an academic commenting that at their previous institution, they had never witnessed anything like this, and that is what separates Loughborough from other top ten universities. It is not unusual to see a group of students and staff sitting down to discuss ways in which they can improve the overall experience here, and both parties must be commended for creating a culture of genuine partnership which leads to such positive student outcomes.
However, as excellent as Loughborough might be, it remains clear that there is always work to do. Our team of incredible Programme Presidents and Representatives are constantly seeking out new areas for improvement, and in order to continue to focus an excellent relationship to ensure great teaching, students’ feedback must continue to be heard. I have no doubt that this will remain the case going forwards. The ambitious nature of both our students and staff ensure that Loughborough will always strive to be the best – and I don’t think our students will be satisfied until the days of Oxbridge have ended, and are replaced instead with “Loxbridge”. This competitiveness, allied with our strong partnership, is so crucial to ensuring that our culture of excellent teaching will not only remain, but will improve in future.
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