BRUSSELS – “The European Union’s recommendations on quality teaching should go beyond that. They should be implemented by the respective authorities and students are ready to take their share of responsibility in that,” says Karina Ufert, Chairperson of the European Students’ Union (ESU).
On 16 June, the EU high-level group on modernisation of higher education published sixteen recommendations that include a call for mandatory certified trainings for professors and other education teaching staff and a sharpened focus on measures that would help students develop entrepreneurial and innovative skills.
“We particularly support the recommendations that stress the importance of supporting academic staff with the relevant pedagogical training. In the past several years, ESU has been advocating for a paradigm shift in the education system from teaching to learning, placing the learner at the center of the process. A growing diversity within student populations, greater demand for transversal skills as well as the potential to use ICT in education, request a new approach from teachers. Besides providing additional training schemes, it is important that the leadership in higher education recognises and rewards the exceptional role that teachers play in each society,” says Ufert.
European Academy for Teaching and Learning
The group has also suggested that the EU supports the establishment of a European Academy for Teaching and Learning that would be led by stakeholders and taking the recommendations forward.
“With the help of such a stakeholder-driven initiative we could improve the communication flow regarding all the different initiatives that aim at enhancing and rewarding the quality of teaching. Teaching is one of the core missions of higher education institutions and has to be adequately supported,” Ufert states.
Students role highlighted
Many of the recommendations are also dedicated to the role of students to improve their learning experiences. The importance of students’ feedback is underlined in detecting problems and improving teaching and learning environments. Student performance in learning activities should also be assessed against clear and agreed learning outcomes that are developed in partnership by all faculty members, according to the group.
ESU has followed the process behind this European Agenda for the modernisation of higher education closely and provided decision makers with an input on students‘ opinions in that respect. Now that the high-level group has published its first recommendations, it will continue its mission by examining the impact of new methods to deliver quality higher education. The recent development surrounding massive open online courses (MOOCs) will be one of the major issues that will be researched. It is expected that the group will publish its next report in June 2014.
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The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit www.esu-online.org. ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.