Progressive Teaching Ensures Business School Competitiveness

Torben Jensen

Torben K Jensen has been Centre Director at the Centre for Teaching and Learning, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus University, Denmark , since 2003 and has been conducting research, teaching and developing university teaching full time. Before that he was an associate professor in political science. www. bss.au.dk www.cul.au.dk / a

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Teaching all too often receives a lower priority than research and funding. This is a strategic mistake, argues Torben Jensen, since better teaching is essential in order to future-proof business schools in the competition for accreditation, funds and talented students.

At the School of Business and Social Sciences, a broad business school at Aarhus University in Denmark, the development of teaching-related activities is a strategic priority. Hence the school has established the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CUL), an independent facility that conducts research into university pedagogics, executes interdisciplinary development projects and implements mandatory training courses on teaching for all lecturers– even the most experienced researchers.

CUL has 13 full-time employees, which means that there are two employees per department. But how can a business school justify spending resources on the development of teaching-related activities when these resources could be spent on more teaching or research?

The reason that the School of Business and Social Sciences, one of Europe’s largest business schools, has chosen to focus specifically on teaching development is primarily based on strategy. Better teaching is indeed indispensable in order to ensure the school’s competitiveness, both now and prospectively, in connection with internationalisation, recruiting the most talented students and securing funds.

Why progressive teaching development is a strategic necessity

The Scandinavian context

Around 50% of the school’s revenue derives from student fees. But part of the external research funds is also dependent on the number of students and the quality of the teaching. If this is included, up to 70% of the school’s revenue is based on teaching. Teaching is therefore of major direct importance to the school’s financial situation and space for action in the future.

Teaching development ensures accreditations

Even for business schools that are publicly funded, ensuring teaching development is essential. Although for these schools external funding is not necessarily dependent on teaching, the quality of teaching is included in the assessment of business schools in other ways, for instance through accreditation. For example, teaching is at the heart of EFMD EQUIS accreditation.

The management of business schools should therefore keep abreast of this development by constantly improving teaching in order to achieve or maintain their accreditation– the most important mark of quality for business schools with international impact.

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