The Aga Khan University has become the first higher education institution in South Asia and East Africa to be recognised by Advance HE, a global body that strives to promote excellence in teaching and learning in higher education.
AKU President Firoz Rasul announced the University’s three-year reaccreditation with Advance HE while addressing the inaugural session of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Conference in Karachi. Advance HE, based in the United Kingdom, works with higher education institutions across the globe to benchmark teaching quality against the rigorous UK Professional Standards Framework, UKPSF.
The Aga Khan University is a pioneering institution of higher education that works to improve quality of life in the developing world and beyond. The University operates programmes in campuses in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and the United Kingdom, and treats more than 2 million patients per year at seven hospitals and more than 350 medical centres.
While talking about the importance of effective teaching and learning methodologies, President Rasul noted their role in engaging students and bringing excitement and stimulation into the classroom. This encourages students to be responsible for their own learning, he added.
The keynote address was delivered by Debra Dawson, director of the Centre for Research on Teaching and Learning in Higher Education at Western University in Canada. She stressed that creating a teaching culture within universities that values quality teaching is important both to motivate faculty members and to create an environment that leads to student success.
“Specifically, institutional teaching culture has been found to be related to student outcomes such as persistence, learning, and engagement,” she said.
Setting up a network to enhance teaching quality in countries with no tradition of support for faculty is a long journey. Tashmin Khamis, associate vice provost of AKU’s Network of Quality, Teaching and Learning and a principal fellow of the Higher Education Academy spoke about how it takes time to build and to find the people or institutions that can offer support.
“Our partnership with Advance HE has enabled AKU faculty to access higher education teaching qualifications that are benchmarked against international best practice. I see HEA fellowships as an incentive to transform teaching, as well as a great opportunity to reward and recognize faculty for their commitment to teaching and learning,” she said.
All universities in the UK are members of Advance HE as well as partners from 15 countries around the world and this gives us an unprecedented chance to be part of a larger community of practice, Khamis concluded.
The two-day SOTL conference on Evidencing teaching practices for effective learning in higher education focused on efforts to improve student learning experiences in order to drive positive change in the higher education sector as a whole.