Student - September 6, 2016

Relatively many teachers at Wageningen uncertified

Rob Ramaker

Compared with other universities, few teachers at Wageningen University have a University Teaching Qualification (UTQ), the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg reports. Wageningen University says the institution is catching up and offers arelatively demanding programs for teachers.

Photo: Guy Ackermans

Figures from the Interstedelijk Studenten Overleg (ISO) show that on average, 70 percent of the teachers at universities in the Netherlands have a UTQ teaching certificate. Only 48 percent of the teachers at Wageningen University are certified. The institute is nationally lagging behind. 

Wageningen University is working to catch for several years now, says Emiel van Puffelen, head of Corporate Education, Research & Innovation. The number of certified teachers has increased since 2011 from 24 to 48 percent (on December 31st 2015). This year the percentage rose above 50, he adds. But there are no up to date figures. He has knowledge of some 250 teachers are trying to get their certficate within the next three years. 

The ISO wants universities to stop employ uncertified teachers as soon as possible. They want the UTQ certifcate to be mandatory. Which is sort of the case already in Wageningen, says Van Puffelen. For example, the certificate is a mandatory course in the career program Tenure Track. For current employees there is no obligation to get the certificate ('some of them are two years away from retirement'). For younger researchers – PhD students and postdocs – the programs are tailor made, says Van Puffelen. PhD students are different and the more they teach, the more counsel they get. 

The universities agreed in 2008 that as many teachers as possible would get a didactic training: this became the University Teaching Qualification (UTQ). Each university has its own lateral certified program. There are big difference in the programs, one is more demanding than the other. Van Puffelen sees the Wageningse UTQ program as one of the more difficult and extensive versions of the programme. 

The ISO are not the only ones worried about the quality of education at universities. PhD student teachers think they can be better prepared for the job. Half of them are unhappy about the counselling they get and only eleven percent of them are in the UTQ program, research shows done by the ISO and other parties half a year ago. Yet the PhD students are willing to get the certificate, 90 percent of them wants the get the opportunity UTQ certificate.