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This briefing focuses on perhaps the most fundamental aspect of university student learning– the role of teaching staff at universities. It does so by reporting insights from both teaching staff themselves and the students whom they teach. If the scholarship of teaching requires bridges to be built between teachers and learners, this briefing examines the structural integrity of those bridges in contemporary university education in Australia. In doing so it focuses attention on perhaps the most obvious but most woefully neglected aspect of quality in higher education – the role which teaching staff play in inspiring, challenging and engaging students.