Professor Grahame Bilbow, Director of the Centre for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at the prestigious University of Hong Kong, has been recognised as a Principal Fellow of the HEA.
With an impressive career spanning 38 years to date, Grahame considers that he has always been, first and foremost, a teacher. His HEA Principal Fellowship is just that latest aspect of his increasing involvement the strategic leadership of teaching and learning: for example, as First Secretary for Education with the British Embassy in Beijing, where he coordinated the UK’s strategy for cross-border cooperation with China in the area of English language teacher training.
Grahame spoke to us about what Principal Fellowship meant to him.
“It is very rare that as teachers and academics we take the opportunity to sit down and analyse what we do and why. One of the most valuable parts of Principal Fellowship for me was that chance to sit down and reflect. Given the stage I have reached in my life, it was a welcome chance to seriously think over my whole career.”
For Grahame, Fellowship of the HEA promotes reflection on individuals’ own teaching practices, their attempts to help others in the academic profession, and on the ways they seek to influence the bigger picture of teaching and learning in higher education. He describes HEA Fellowship as “something like a Russian doll, with Principal Fellowship including all other aspects of Fellowship – at the very centre of this doll is a belief in transformative teaching”.
Hong Kong has very mature teaching excellence award schemes, both at the institutional level and as one of China’s Special Administrative Region territories, where all eight publicly funded universities compete.
The University of Hong Kong also has awards at faculty level and four levels of award at institutional level. Grahame feels, however, that there is still a gap that HEA Fellowship can fill, and this is a gap he has identified at several of the institutions in which he has worked over the years: “Like most universities, there are systems for recognising and rewarding excellent teaching - however, they often attract just a few staff whom we know to be ‘stars’.
“What I want to foster is a way of recognising teaching excellence that is systemic and sustainable. I think we’re still missing something there, and, to be honest, this is why I’m interested in Fellowship.”
The HEA currently has over 75,000 Fellows, of whom nearly 2,000 are International.
The HEA is internationally reecognised for its knowledge and expertise in promoting teaching excellence in higher education. The HEA supports governments, ministries and universities in over 25 countries, including China & Hong Kong, the USA, New Zealand, Australia, Bahrain and Singapore.