Following last week’s announcement of an £11m investment in education and student experience at LSE over the next three years, Pro-Director for Teaching and Learning Professor Paul Kelly fills us in on the detail.
First of all, what is the context for the investment in education?
Several factors combine to make investment in education a priority at LSE. First, we want the reputation and performance of LSE’s teaching to be as highly regarded as LSE’s research. Second, we want to enhance LSE’s educational offer so that our students are prepared for and can contribute to the complex and challenging world into which they will graduate. And, third, we want to refresh the tradition of LSE as a dynamic learning community, where students, staff, alumni and others interact in ways that reflect the School’s distinctive identity. In order for these ambitions to be achieved, we have produced LSE’s first ever Education Strategy and are investing over £11m across the next three years to implement and deliver it.
How will the £11m be spent?
Broadly, we’re investing £2m on teaching excellence, to support the funding of educational projects, awards for exceptional teaching and developmental collaborations across the School; £4m on new posts in academic departments for the development and delivery of new and redesigned courses and programmes; and £5m on a new academic, personal and professional development centre for taught students called LSE LIFE.
So that’s £6m in total on teaching-related academic posts and developing teaching excellence. What can staff and students look forward to?
It is a big investment, designed to signal loudly and clearly that teaching and teachers are as important to LSE as research and researchers. Not all academics can, or should, devote equal time to both activities and the balance between the two will change throughout academics’ careers, so the investment in new posts (and promotions in existing posts) is a way of ensuring a ‘groundswell’ of targeted, dedicated and sustained teaching expertise within academic departments, so that flexibility between research and teaching can continue to be offered where desirable. What students will notice when those posts are in place is a range of high quality and challenging courses and programmes on offer, taught by inspiring and expert teachers.
The investment in developing teaching excellence will support several new initiatives: a Pro-Director Vision Fund that provides £100,000 in each of the next three academic sessions for developmental projects that deliver enhancements and innovations in teaching and learning; Excellence in Education Awards (totalling £1m over the next two years) to reward the highest quality contributions, by individuals and groups within and across departments, to students’ educational experiences; and significant investment in development opportunities for academic staff at all levels, as well as departmental-professional service collaborations that expand opportunities for both staff and students. Together, these are designed also to indicate the importance we attach to education, by developing, recognising and rewarding talent and contribution. But they are also aimed at serving the LSE community as a whole by getting staff, students, alumni and visitors involved in the evolution of education at LSE and enabling them to benefit from it.
LSE LIFE sounds interesting. Can you tell us more about that?
Yes. LSE LIFE will integrate for the first time the many academic, professional and personal development opportunities offered by different LSE departments and services – and add many new such opportunities – in one new specially designed centre on the ground floor of the LSE Library, opening this September. So students will be able to come to LSE LIFE to develop academic, communication, numeracy and research skills, learn languages, get advice on personal effectiveness and in making life choices, and gain insights into graduate recruitment and career paths, as well as to participate in intensive activities such as interdisciplinary research projects and experiential learning programmes with external organisations.
It’s a little like the PhD Academy but for taught students, the idea being that such a comprehensive and coherent programme of activities will not only complement students’ learning on degree programmes, but also help equip them for life beyond LSE as responsible and engaged citizens.
This interview was first published on the LSE Teaching Blog.