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Education focussed roles: redefining best practice for tertiary education? (sponsored by The University of New South Wales)

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 4:30pm – 5:30pm parallel symposium



Room 1 – 302-G20, Case Room



Associate Professor Louise Lutze-Mann
Director, Education Focussed Career Development

Dr Eser Zerenturk



The Australian higher education sector has experienced significant change in the last 20 years. As institutions adapt to demographic, funding, and political changes, the nature of academic identity has evolved, including the emergence of education (teaching) focussed roles, part of the increasing differentiation of the academic workforce. This conception of the academic is characterised by a requirement for high quality teaching and an engagement with pedagogic scholarly research (Flecknoe et al., 2017), balanced against an increasing need to deliver education at scale. Driven by a range of factors, such as widening participation, the internationalisation of higher education (Probert, 2013) and the rise in importance of metrics comparing university performance (Marginson, 2007), education focussed roles serve multiple purposes, for both individual academics and their institutions.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) aspires to be both research- and teaching-intensive. Education focussed roles were introduced to recognise and further develop excellent educators at the university, in pursuit of educational excellence for students. To achieve these aims, UNSW has instituted changes to the recruitment, promotion and support of these roles. For individual academics, education focussed roles represent an opportunity to engage more deeply in and be recognised for their passion for education. While the nature of the education focussed role remains contested, it also delivers benefits to universities, academics and their students.

Since the introduction of education focussed roles in 2017, UNSW has supported this community of academics through strategic financial investments, bespoke professional development programmes, and the formation of communities of practice centred on specific educational projects. Challenges have been identified at UNSW and other institutions who have adopted education focussed roles, including raising the status of teaching, balancing teaching workload with scholarly research, and providing a framework for promotion that incorporates recognition of teaching excellence. Despite these challenges, education focussed staff at UNSW have reported high levels of satisfaction in their new roles and have been successful in promotion at all academic levels, including to full professor.

In this session, with your input, we will explore what it means to be an education focussed academic and how this is being developed at different institutions. What can be expected of education focussed academics and how can institutions best support them? What does a successful education focussed academic look like? More importantly, this session will focus on a way forward, in order to ensure that education focussed roles are a viable, attractive, and sustainable career option for academics.



Flecknoe, S. J., Choate, J. K., Davis, E. A., Hodgson, Y. M., Johanesen, P. A., Macaulay, J. O., Murphy, Kim; Sturrock, W. J., and Rayner, G. M. (2017). Redefining academic identity in an evolving higher education landscape. Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, 14(2).
Probert, B. (2013). Teaching-focussed academic appointments in Australian universities: recognition, specialisation, or stratification? Office for Learning and Teaching, Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.
Marginson, S. (2007). Global university rankings: implications in general and for Australia. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 29(2), 131-142.
Macfarlane, B. (2011). Prizes, pedagogic research and teaching professors: lowering the status of teaching and learning through bifurcation. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 127-130.


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