During the week of 8-12 July, the Director of the National Forum, Dr Terry Maguire, was invited to visit a number of locations in Portugal to share the ongoing work at national level in Ireland as those working in the Portuguese higher education system look to build structures and capacity to support teaching and learning enhancement.
A workshop was held on 8 July during a retreat for new lecturers in Monção focused on building student engagement and partnership in teaching and learning. The workshop allowed an opportunity to consider how best those who teach can support student learning and involved a discussion of insights from approximately 4000 students across the Irish higher education sector who nominated teachers for the National Forum Teaching Hero Awards in 2014 and 2016. A second event, on 10 July, was the first ever large-scale teaching and learning gathering at Universidade do Minho in Guimarães, attended by all staff of the University. A National Forum talk at this event focused on the importance of disciplines and programme teams to the enhancement of teaching and learning. Finally, on 11 July, in a keynote for a national teaching and learning conference in Santarém, an overview of Ireland’s approach to supporting teaching and learning enhancement at national level was presented.
The higher education system in Portugal has a similar landscape to Ireland in that there are two main subsectors comprised of 15 universities and 15 polytechnic institutes, as well as a number of privately-funded institutions. This opportunity to share approaches and practice from Ireland was warmly welcomed by staff and senior managers across Portuguese higher education institutions, who voiced an intention to explore the possibility of establishing a body similar to the National Forum in Portugal.