Question put at Vice-Chancellorís
http://streaming.oii.ox.ac.uk:554/ramgen/archive/adm/vc23022006/livestream.rm starting at 20í00íí minutes from the beginning and lasting 8 minutes.
SVH There is a startling contrast between the current extremely vigorous transfer market in outstanding academics who are research stars, and the complete absence at any time of any market, nationally or internationally, for those who are teaching stars.† Do you accept that this is one of many convincing pieces of evidence that excellent teaching is inadequately recognised, and if you do, what are you doing to alter both Hefce funding mechanisms and Oxford's own policies so as to put some bite into the mainly toothless platitudes about the importance of first-rate teaching in universities?†
Dr Hood (V-C).† Well first of all let me say that I regard high-quality teaching as of fundamental importance to this university, and I hope to the life of all universities. Having said that, and having heard the emotion in your question, I think you are correct that there is no obvious financial incentive built into the funding streams both public-policy-wise or institution-wise to recognise on a consistent basis high-quality teaching.† You will be aware of course that quality of teaching is something that is taken into account here in tenure decisions.† Youíll also perhaps - †and colleagues elsewhere will also be aware - that our departments and divisions are in their own planning at the moment and in recent times thinking very carefully about the way in which they think about the quality of teaching and the way in which they might better reward teaching.† So for example the Social Science Division is looking at this on a departmental basis, the Medical Science Division is looking at it on a divisional basis and both divisions are looking at recognising their teaching stars and providing some kind of financial reward for those teaching stars as a result of the recognition. I personally come from an institution before I came here where we took very seriously teaching and whereby annually we had distinguished teaching awards which were presented initially at a special ceremony and subsequently at graduation ceremonies, and the citations were read out by students in recognition of the quality of the teaching received by the stars in their particular period. †And there was a very fine memento of that award as well as some funding to reinvest in pedagogy and so forth.† I think itís also important though, in the context of this university and I suspect also in others that have a very strong research orientation, to say that our teaching links intimately with our research and that we want our students in this institution to be being taught by those who are not only active at the cutting edge of research but recognised internationally for the quality of their research and for their ability to translate that into their teaching programmes.† So I think thatís not necessarily the case in all institutions but itís certainly the case in this institution.
To the question of what am I doing to convince the authorities to put more money into quality teaching I have to confess that I have not done anything in the 16Ĺ months Iíve been here to convince Hefce that they should put more money into this.† There was I understand a considerable debate in this country through the latter Ď90s and early into this decade about whether or not there should be a teaching quality funding stream provided by Hefce and as many will know there were various assessments done of the teaching quality in universities that rated scores I think out of 24 from memory, but of course the sector could never come to a consensus as to (a) whether that was a sensible methodology - and the answer was Ēpossibly notĒ - or secondly how a methodology might be derived to provide some premium funding stream for quality teaching.† Now I am not sure whether itís appropriate that I should myself at this stage say Iím prepared to wage a campaign to reinstate that debate; but I am prepared to continue to challenge EPSC on the subject of teaching quality which I have done in the 16 months I have been here and which I will continue to do, in the hope that we will constantly look for ways in which we can better recognise those who are making that extra effort.
SVH: Well thank you and thank you too for
addressing both parts of the question.†
You emphasised particularly the impact on the individual in the first
part of your answer which of course underlies my question but deliberately was not
explicit. I do hope that you will find some way of adding
Dr Hood (V-C).† Well I donít have any evidential basis certainly that I have seen since Iíve been here that could lead me to answer your question one way or the other.† I have seen a number of surveys of student experience which would indicate to me that by and large they are very very satisfied with the quality of teaching that they are receiving. When I say I havenít seen any evidential basis I think one would need to see far more than just student survey data to come to the sort of conclusion youíre asking of me.† So Iím sorry that I canít give a more accurate answer to that question.† Iíd be interested in your own views.
SVH If you want a quick answer to the question about distortion, the answer quite obviously from the way I phrased it, is: yes I do believe that is highly distorting of our preferred academic emphases overall , that we are under an umbrella of a rťgime that does distort what we would like to do, and that it ought to be altered.
Dr Hood (V-C).† Might I make just one comment about that?† Itís an observation I made yesterday.† I wonder whether also thereís a possibility of a conflation of two things here.† I do think that relative to norms that one would see in other leading universities we are by and large asking of our colleagues that they teach more hours than we would see in those other institutions so, while this is not an answer to your specific point, I think it may ultimately - if we can succeed in becoming through time a wealthier institution - be one of our priorities and that is to lessen those teaching demands as we are able, so that colleagues feel that they can contribute more easily to the teaching challenges that they have.