University of Helsinki to launch Teachers’ Academy

The University of Helsinki is the first university in Finland to establish a teachers’ academy — a network of university teachers recognised for their merits in the development of teaching.

University of Helsinki to launch Teachers’ Academy

The Academy will promote teaching and improve its standing in the academic community. The idea was adopted from other top universities in the world.

As Rector Thomas Wilhelmsson pointed out in his address at the opening ceremony of the University’s academic year, “our strategic objective is to rank among the 50 leading universities in the world. This requires great effort in the development of teaching. At a top-level university the quality of research and teaching go hand in hand. In the long run, one cannot exist without the other.”

The Teachers’ Academy also attests to the appreciation of pedagogic expertise among the university community. “Teaching is an integral and valuable part of academic work,” says Wilhelmsson. “Like research, teaching can be developed in a goal-oriented manner and expertise shared collegially.”

“When we support our teachers and their professional skills, we also enhance learning results among our students,” Wilhelmsson adds. “The Teachers’ Academy will offer the most distinguished teachers a multidisciplinary community of peers that promotes the dissemination of good teaching practices and new teaching methods at the University.”

Membership in the Teachers’ Academy is a significant recognition of merits and qualifications in teaching. Teachers’ Academy fellows receive a two-year grant, while their home unit is granted a performance reward for the same period. The University hopes that this will boost interest in the further development of teaching.

“International research on university-level teaching has revealed that performance-based rewards have had a wide impact on academic teaching and learning cultures and their development,” affirms Wilhelmsson.

The application period for the Teachers’ Academy ends in mid-October and the selection will be made in early 2013. In the present round of applications, the University will select the first 30 founding members of the Academy, and subsequently appoint about 20 fellows each year. The selection will follow established procedures of the academic community and be based on peer reviews and statements by panels of assessors.

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Text: Hannamaija Helander
Photo: Ari Aalto
Translation: Language Services, University of Helsinki
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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