The LERU has gathered data from its member universities to get an insight in to how students are educated at research-intensive universities. This data suggests “that in research-rich universities students do not just learn about research; they also undertake research and enquiry within and across disciplines. Their active engagement with cuttingedge enquiry leads to a wide range of learning outcomes needed for professional life, including critical thinking, the ability to solve complex problems and ethical awareness.”
Lack of stable funding
There are however barriers to the provision of proper education. “These include internal barriers, such as structures and processes, and organisational cultures that may traditionally have valued research more highly than student education. External barriers include limited funding in a time of massive growth in student numbers, lack of stability with funding and policy, and insufficient resources nationally and internationally for undertaking evidence-based studies into the effectiveness of higher education practices. “
The LERU concludes that their member universities – within these barriers – are actively working to enhance their educational provision. There are several approaches being taken to enrich the educational opportunities. Nevertheless the LERU has made some recommendations for universities as well as national and international policymakers to create an atmosphere in which education can foster.
On par with excellent research
Most important is the recognition of education within academia. “Regard excellent teaching and education-focused scholarship as activities on a par with excellent research,” the LERU writes. This means that excellent university teachers should be rewarded and promoted. This means there should be additional incentives for people working in academia to pursue a career in teaching.
Furthermore “universities should allocate an appropriate budget to education that takes into account the increase in student numbers, the growing need for the development of new educational technologies, and the need for professional staff to support this.” This allocation of funding also poses questions for policymakers on the national level.
According to the LERU “national systems for funding universities should provide the greatest possible stability, in order to allow long-term planning.” Also the evaluation system of education should shift its priorities, LERU notes.
“Governmental evaluation systems should avoid reducing the quality of teaching and learning to simple metrics. They should recognise that the characteristics of teaching and learning in general, and research-based education in particular, can best be conveyed through qualitative case studies of impact on students and society.”
Read the full paper here