Roles and Responsibilities
Frances Dow and DES Truman
Many universities are privileged to have a large community of active, committed postgraduate students who are willing to undertake part-time teaching duties. Many are also in the fortunate position of being able to draw on other suitably qualified members of their local community, for example, clinicians and practising lawyers and accountants, to undertake part-time teaching roles. In a time of scarce resources, the contribution which these tutors, demonstrators, and other part-time staff make to the teaching provision of a university is not just valuable : it is vital. Without it, we would not be able to maintain the quality of the teaching which is such a distinctive feature of UK higher education. In any resource scenario, the standard and type of teaching which is offered to undergraduate students would be much diminished if tutors and demonstrators were not involved, for they can often fulfil some roles much more satisfactorily than more senior staff. Of course, their principal roles are the ones they share with all other teaching staff. There is, first, the academic role of supporting and enhancing student learning and, second, the pastoral role of enabling students to deal with their own personal and welfare concerns. Both of these are examined more fully in the rest of this chapter. But in addition, postgraduate tutors and demonstrators can have a special 'bridging' role to play between the worlds of teaching and research, and they can often be very effective role models for first-degree students. Many universities in their mission statements have committed themselves to sustaining and developing teaching in a research-led environment, and it can often be postgraduates who, in their daily working lives, do most to bring these two aspects of universities' work together. This is not because postgraduates are expected to make their...