This Autumn the Higher Education Academy has launched The Student-Led Teaching Awards scheme, together with NUS. This award scheme gives students the chance to define “good teaching” and reward lecturers who they feel provide it.

The HEA says: “During 2011-12 the partnership program will support up to 20 students’ unions across the UK to create the Student-Led Teaching Awards (SLTAs). Each union will receive a grant of up to £1,500 to help them deliver the award scheme”.

Existing schemes such as the National Student Survey (NSS) allow students to comment on lecturers and courses after they have completed their third year.

However, the new Teaching Awards Scheme will potentially allow students to shape their course during their time of study. Examples of categories include “most organized module” and “best 21st century teaching”.

This initiative comes at a crucial time in Higher Education when teaching budgets are shrinking. Usman Ali, Vice President of the NUS, said: “In this time of ever-increasing focus on research, we need to ensure that great teaching is rewarded and recognized by students, staff and senior management.”

Imi, a third year English student,  said: “It’s good to show appreciation for lecturers who really engage with their students instead of just talking to them.

You get the old style of lecturer who’s really distant from their students, but others deserve recognition for going the extra mile”.

However lecturer Dr Sharif Mowlabocus expressed his concerns: “This new initiative builds on existing strategies that recognise and celebrate high-caliber teaching at Sussex. While such initiatives aim to promote innovative teaching and learning methods there is always the concern that conveners and tutors who are tasked with delivering less ‘glamorous’ courses may find it especially hard to ‘score’ well in such schemes. In my experience awards have gone to dedicated and hard-working teaching staff.
“However, I do also worry that such ‘competitions’ risk reducing the issue of teaching quality down to a popularity contest that has less to do with teaching skills and more to do with personality”.

Sussex is as yet undecided as to whether they will apply for the scheme. If you have an opinion on Sussex’s inclusion, please send a letter to

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