A STRATEGY to ensure that its lecturers are the best qualified in UK Higher Education has led to the University of Huddersfield surging up tables compiled by the sector’s official statistics agency.
Huddersfield has retained its first place ranking for the proportion of staff who hold a teaching qualification. It also leads the university sector for the numbers who hold postgraduate degrees. And it is making exceptional progress in its drive to ensure that all lecturers have doctorates – the gold standard for expertise in their subject areas.
New figures show that the proportion of Huddersfield staff who have been awarded PhDs is already one of the highest out of the 164 institutions surveyed by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), which just released data for 2016-17. And because all full-time lecturers at Huddersfield are required to register for doctoral study, this figure will rapidly increase.
Already, with 66.48 per cent of staff holding doctorates, Huddersfield is well inside the upper quartile for the UK Higher Education sector, ahead of 135 institutions that include the universities of Leeds, Birmingham, Hull, Lancaster, Cranfield and University College London.
As more and more Huddersfield staff complete their doctoral projects, it seems certain that the University will soon surpass even Cambridge University, where 66.61 per cent of lecturers currently hold PhDs.
The figures from HESA also show that 94.1 per cent of academic staff at Huddersfield hold Master’s degrees or higher, including doctorates. Only two very small, specialised institutions have returned a higher figure.
It was in 2013 that the University of Huddersfield’s official strategy first insisted that all full-time, permanent lecturers have a doctorate or study to acquire one. HESA’s data show that rapid progress has been made towards this goal.
In 2013, 39.32 per cent of teaching staff had PhDs. Now it has climbed to 66.40 per cent. In 2011, the figure was 33.04 per cent, meaning that it has doubled in well under a decade.
Delighted by the latest HESA figures, the University of Huddersfield’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Thornton, said: “It is part of our strategy that 100 per cent of academic staff should hold or be registered for a doctorate because this qualification is absolute proof of their right to teach at university level, and it helps to guarantee that our students receive a first-class education from people whose expertise includes original research in their subject areas.”
Since 2016, Huddersfield has also headed HESA’s table showing the percentage of staff with an academic teaching qualification. With a latest figure of 94.1 per cent – up from 93 per cent in the last data set – it has retained the top spot among English universities. The next-placed institution is at 92.2 per cent, and many return considerably lower figures.
In 2017, the high proportion of staff with teaching qualifications, alongside factors such individualised learning support and rapid feedback on coursework, helped to secure Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) introduced by the Government to “provide clear information to students about where the best provision can be found”.
Also in 2017, the University was the inaugural winner of the Global Teaching Excellence Award, beating a shortlist of over 20 leading institutions across five continents.