Harmonising Approaches to Professional Higher Education in Europe

Programme Team

Learning Environment refers to the surroundings and conditions in which learning takes place. The core criterion for it in PHE, is that the learning environment includes experience within institutions as well as outside, in the world of work. Significant practice phases and/or job experiences serve to reflect theory in a practical context.

The following are best practice examples of implementation of this criterion:

PHE teaching teams in Flanders – Institution-specific ways to balance academic and professional expertise

We found a variety of approaches how PHE institutions or departments seek to establish a balanced combination of staff with academic background and relevant experience from the world of work:

Some institutions/departments set targets for the percentage of teaching staff with practical experience. Those professionals from the world of work might be offered (limited) teacher training modules. The staff members who both teach and work usually can rely on appropriate scheduling and are granted exception from some organisational obligations at their institution. Many PHE departments hire ‘visiting staff’ with specific professional experience and promote those positions in the world of work. The regular HEI teaching staff, on the other hand, is encouraged to take “work experience” periods to enhance or update their knowledge and skills.

Often teaching staff is involved in practice-oriented research projects and thus keeps good relations with the world outside his or her institution.

Although not being a PHE staff member, the assignments during work placements are co-guided by a dedicated professional at the different companies.

Teaching PHE on Saturdays to involve working professionals and work-specific locations

Author: Stéphane Lauwick, Vice-President (International Relations), Association of IUT Directors

In many French IUTs, the work week has been extended to include Saturday mornings. This enables professionals, consultants, company staff (technicians, executives) to devote time for students and teaching classes, facilitating project work or mentoring without interfering with their workload during weekdays. Classes can furthermore be delivered in work-specific places and give students the opportunity to become acquainted with compatible behaviour and attire. A number of IUT seminars take place in the premises of the Chamber of Commerce, often in the Chamber’s Council amphitheatre.

Legal requirement for teaching staff: Three years of world-of-work experience

Baden-Württemberg state law requires DHBW professors to have a minimum of three years of experience outside of academia.

It is also legally required that a large percentage of the teaching staff at the DHBW is part of the world of work. While holding management or other positions those visiting lecturers present real cases and up-to-date knowledge to the PHE classroom.

Introducing national regulations for teaching staff qualification in Portuguese polytechnics

Authors: Joaquim Mourato, President of Polytechnic Institute of Portalegre, Portuguese Polytechnics Coordinating Council (CCISP) & Armando Pires, Head of International Affairs / Full Professor at Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, CCISP & José Miguel Nunes Pereira, Adviser, CCISP

In PHE, the criteria for hiring and evaluating teachers include academic, as well as professional experience. Teaching staff qualification at the academic and professional level has increased significantly over the past few years. Much of the full-time and part-time teaching staff hasobtained academic degrees(master or doctor) and/or the title of specialist, which requires ten years of work experience. In 2002, the polytechnic system only had 690 PhD professors (7% of the total teaching staff), and in 2014, about 3100 teachersheld a PhD (32% of the total teaching staff). Along the same lines, we can say that, in the polytechnic system,many teachers have previous experience in the world of work in their specific field of teaching.

This increase in academic qualification and years of work experience among PHE teaching staff can be explained by new national regulations and strategic decisions of most institutions to support their teaching staff qualification.  In 2007, a new framework created title of “specialist”, which is conferred to someone with more than 10 years of working experience in a given area after a passing a public exam. At the same time, a new law was passed to regulate higher education institutions. This new framework stated that at least 15% of the teaching staff must hold a PhD and 35% the title of specialist. In 2009, the new career framework for Polytechnics[1] limited access to the teaching career to specialists and individuals with a PhD.

Evolution of the teaching staff academic qualification[2]

[1] Decreto-Lei n.º 207/2009 Estatuto da Carreira do Pessoal Docente do Ensino Superior Politécnico retrieved from http://www.dges.mctes.pt/NR/rdonlyres/600EE55A-EA38-41D8-B083-ADEC8266C250/4640/DL_207_2009.pdf

[2] In Directorate-General for Statics of Education and Science http://www.dgeec.mec.pt/np4/EstatDocentes/

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