Experience in teaching itself can be hugely beneficial to higher education (HE) practitioners that implement university policies on learning and teaching. For Osama Khan, PVC (Academic) at the University of Surrey, teaching corporate finance has allowed him to stay up to date with teaching trends and gain first-hand knowledge of how policy affects the learning experience.
Osama spoke to Kira Matthews, GoodCourse Community Engagement Lead about authentic communication with students, enhancing the learning experience post-Covid, and more.
First and foremost I’m a teacher, I’m a Professor in Practice and I teach corporate finance to mainly MBA students. My substantial role is PVC (Academic) at the University of Surrey. We’re a research intense institution that has a real connection to solving the problems existing in the world and in business.
I look after the education side of things — our style of pedagogy, how we survived the pandemic as well as some substantial professional services like the registry, mental health and wellbeing and student support. I have an amazing colleague, Kerry Matthews, Chief Student Officer, who I collaborate with a lot.
I’ve always loved educating and interacting with students — the twinkle in their eyes when something clicks. It helps that I know the coalface of teaching, because everything I implement I also know how it feels as a teacher. If I implement new technology for example, I will end up using it so I will discover whether it aids/impedes the teaching process.
Balancing teaching and learning is important. I know what I want to teach, what topics I want to cover, what technical capabilities I want my students to have and so on. What I don’t know is what it feels like for an 18-year-old in 2022 to learn about corporate finance. Computer-aided education in particular is unknown to me, so we have to be innovative and enterprising.
The Solent teaching and learning institute was an incubator for discussing these challenges and finding ways to support learning. Our job is to take this innovation and implement it in our modules. At Surrey, we have a similar institute, called the Surrey Institute of Education.
We try our best to work together seamlessly to deliver a quality university experience. A learner’s journey through higher education won’t be complete if it isn’t scaffolded by other support. Things have changed, and now the UK has an ambition to be a knowledge economy, there is more emphasis on keeping people in the system and supporting their complex needs through that journey.
We try our best to work together seamlessly to deliver a quality university experience. A learner’s journey through higher education won’t be complete if it isn’t scaffolded by other support.
Learners should bring their whole selves to university. I’m a Muslim, Bangladeshi immigrant, somebody’s dad, husband and son. I’m an educator and PVC and I should be comfortable in any skin that I’ve had while I’m at Surrey.
Our professional services have evolved — Surrey students can go to a portal, book their appointment and thus don’t have to turn up to a physical space to get an appointment, whatever it’s related to.
We were very proud of our pandemic intervention, student satisfaction throughout the sector went through the floor — but we were one of six institutions that managed to buck that trend.
In terms of education, within health and safety, we knew we needed to provide human interaction as much as possible. We had lots of students on campus still, 62% of our education was face-to-face in the first year, which increased to 92% in the second year. We offered the choice of coming in or staying on zoom — which we called roomers or zoomers.
If people had to lock down, they were looked after by well-being ambassadors and were able to report things on our support app. There was a real ethos of looking after each other, and connecting as much as possible.
For academics, no matter what pressure you’re facing, do not shy away from innovating. Don’t just take pedagogical advice from above, or what has come before you — try new things out, as students tend to be receptive to this!
For students, I would say make the most out of your university experience — you aren’t just there to get a degree. You’ll also learn from making friends, hosting parties, participating in extra-curricular activities and much more.
Dr Gurnam Singh — he’s an Associate Professor in race equity (sociology) but he’s dedicated his entire life to race equity in higher education. He’s scholarly, thought-provoking and disruptive in a positive sense.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I bought 150 copies of this book and attached a personal note to each one, because I’m giving them out to my colleagues here at Surrey.