The national library of Israel on the Givat Ram campus, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Council for Higher Education unanimously approved a set of criteria for improving teaching quality, which all academic institutions in Israel will have to abide by, it announced on Wednesday.
“Education is supposed to improve all the time and our students deserve this. I attach great importance to the issue of teaching quality and I intend to promote this field within the plan’s five-year framework in the higher education system,” CHE head and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said.
“As part of the global world we live in, it is our duty to provide the future generation – the student population – with the best tools to acquire higher education,” he said.
The CHE decision stipulates that all institutions be required to implement a number of basic mechanisms for improving the quality of teaching. Non-fulfillment of these criteria will “constitute a violation” for which the academic institution will face an oversight committee for review and enforcement.
To promote and encourage institutions to embrace the criteria and improve teaching quality, the CHE will allocate NIS 9 million over the next three years to institutions that go “above and beyond” the basic criteria. The CHE provided a list of eight supplementary criteria, such as training staff in new technology, holding departmental seminars, and holding activities for both “weak” and “excellent” teachers to improve teaching quality.
Institutions implementing supplementary criteria will be budgeted for each addition, and will be eligible for a grant of up to NIS 75,000 per year.
Furthermore, the CHE will award, on a competitive basis, up to NIS 1m. every year for three years to institutions that improve teaching quality in an original and innovative manner.
Among the criteria, the CHE called for each new faculty member at all levels – including external teachers and teaching assistants – to undergo professional training in the field of teaching, such as attending workshops, seminars and conferences on relevant educational issues.
The new guidelines also call for students to fill out a teaching evaluation questionnaire at the end of every semester for each course held at the institution. The institution will be responsible for providing aggregated results and student comments to each lecturer with a ranking for comparison. The guidelines call to establish a mechanism for dealing with lecturers whose survey results are below or above standard.
The CHE criteria further mandate that academic institutions establish an accessible system for student complaints against teachers and outline clear procedures for lecturers vis-à-vis the students – such as arranging office hours, course timetables and requiring lecturers to provide a syllabus for each course.
The National Union of Israeli Students praised the decision on Wednesday.
“As students, the way we learn is just as important to us as the content,” said Gilad Arditi, head of the Student Union. “Our desire is to see more and more challenging courses in which the content and teaching quality are dramatically strengthened.”