While it is universally accepted that the teacher is the pivot of the educational system, our educational system needs to provide adequate opportunities for their professional development. It is, therefore, necessary to develop inbuilt mechanisms to provide opportunities for teachers within the framework of knowledge society. It was believed in the past that college or university teachers learnt their art of teaching on the job by emulating outstanding models such as their own teachers or senior colleagues. However, today, it is no longer possible to expect newly appointed teachers to acquire the art of teaching by emulating their peers. Furthermore, there has been knowledge explosion in every discipline. College and university teachers have to continuously update their knowledge in their chosen fields of expertise, or run the risk of becoming totally outdated in a very short period of time. While the really motivated and industrious teachers use their own resources to keep themselves abreast of new knowledge and to train themselves in the latest processes, methodologies and techniques of teaching, it is necessary to provide systematic and organized orientation programmes for the large number of teachers at the college and university level.
The National Policy on Education (NPE) 1986 in its programme of action also makes a pointed reference to the crucial link between teacher motivation and the quality of education and recognizes the need for improving the status of the teacher and proposes to provide opportunities for professional and career development so that teachers may fulfill their role and responsibility within the system of higher education. It was proposed to enhance their motivation skills and knowledge through systematic orientation in specific subjects, techniques and methodologies, and thereby inculcate in them the right kind of values that would in turn encourage them to take initiatives for innovative and creative work. In light of these aims and objectives, 66 Academic Staff Colleges have been established in 26 states across India so far with a view to organize specially designed orientation programmes and refresher courses in pedagogy, educational psychology and philosophy, Information Technology and socio-economic and political concerns for all new entrants at the level of lecturers, covering every teacher at least once in three to five years and to encourage teachers to participate in seminars, symposia, workshops, etc.
UGC-Academic Staff College, University of Kashmir was established in the year 1987 with an aim of generating awareness among the teaching faculty particularly among freshly appointed teachers about linkages between society, environment, development and education, about philosophy of education, higher education system and pedagogy, resource awareness and knowledge generation and about management and personality development. Overall aim is their professional, personality and career development. To achieve this aim, Academic Staff College of the University of Kashmir endeavours to design, organize, conduct, monitor and evaluate General Orientation and Refresher Courses for college and university teachers; interaction Programmes for doctoral and post-doctoral scholars; short-term courses for senior administrators, heads of departments, principals, deans and other decision makers and teaching programmes for non-teaching staff, in accordance with UGC guidelines. Besides imparting knowledge and skills to participants of these programmes, Academic Staff College envisages to provide them opportunities to interact with eminent resource persons and facilitate their exchange of ideas with peers from various parts of the state and country as well. This considerably helps in an overall improvement in the quality of education and research in higher education institutes by enhancing the competencies of the teachers.