Teachers as brokers: adding a university-society perspective to higher education teacher competence profiles

Carla Oonk*, Judith T.M. Gulikers, Perry J. den Brok, Renate Wesselink, Pieter Jelle Beers, Martin Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Higher education institutions are increasingly engaged with society but contemporary higher education teacher competence profiles do not include university-society oriented responsibilities of teachers. Consequently, comprehensive insights in university-society collaborative performance of higher education teachers are not available. This study empirically develops a teacher profile for an exemplary university-society oriented, multi-stakeholder learning environment and builds an argument for university-society collaborative additions to existing higher education teacher profiles. A showcase example of a new university-society collaborative, multi-stakeholder learning environment, the Regional Learning Environment (RLE), provides the context of analysis. Thirteen RLE establishments were included in the study. The study uses a descriptive qualitative design, triangulating data from RLE documents, teacher interviews and focus groups with teachers and managers on RLE teacher roles, tasks and competencies. The resulting RLE teacher profile comprises nine roles, nineteen tasks and 21 competencies. The new profile echoes scattered indications for teacher responsibilities as identified in previous studies on teaching and learning in university-society collaborative learning settings. The study argues that the role of broker, including boundary crossing competence, and the competency ‘stimulating a collaborative learning attitude’, might be added to existing higher education teacher competence profiles. Adding this university-society engaged perspective to existing teacher competence profiles will support higher education institutions in developing their university-society collaborative responsibilities and subsequent teacher professionalisation trajectories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-718
JournalHigher Education
Early online date2 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Boundary crossing competence
  • Higher education
  • Teacher competence profile
  • University-society engagement


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