Anthony Manning is Dean for Internationalisation at the University of Kent and is also Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In this blog Anthony describes how the developments in his international career in globally-focused Higher Education encouraged him to apply for Principal Fellowship.
Throughout my career, I have worked in educational roles which have a strong global focus. This is also what has ultimately led me to my current position as Dean for Internationalisation at the University Kent. Through this position I am fortunate to be able to collaborate with a diverse range of students and colleagues from across the academic disciplines in the pursuit of internationalisation in our institution’s education, research and engagement. This also involves working with students and colleagues in higher education institutions at a broad range of overseas universities. Through these activities I have an invaluable opportunity to learn from a global network of people with experience of international educational systems and different approaches to solving problems and identifying solutions.
Although I have now worked in positions in Higher Education in the UK, Europe and Asia for more than 20 years, my first experiences of teaching were through language assistant roles overseas and through training to be a secondary school teacher. I was first inspired to become a school teacher given the extremely positive experience that I had as an undergraduate student studying languages at the University of Lancaster. As a first-generation university student from a single parent family, going to university was a really transformational experience for me. Consequently, becoming a secondary school teacher through taking a PCGE at the University of York was a natural choice for me. I wanted to be part of helping others to broaden their horizons through education.
During and after my degree, I had the exciting and rewarding opportunity to live and teach in France, Germany, China and Japan, where I taught English in secondary and tertiary institutions. This gave me an interest in higher level study through an MA at the University of Leicester in Applied Linguistics and encouraged me to move into a career in Higher Education. When I returned from working overseas, I started to work in universities in the UK in the teaching of English for Academic Purposes and leadership of academic pathway programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate international students.
I first gained my FHEA while I was a module convenor and course tutor at the University of Reading. At that point, I hadn’t completed my Doctor of education degree which I was working on by distance at the University of Leicester and so pursuing recognition through my FHEA , felt like a really important way to demonstrate that I was a skilled and experienced teacher in the Higher Education environment. Having originally come from a secondary teaching background, applying for FHEA felt like a key marker of my transition and recognition into Higher Education. It was also shortly after this that I gained confidence to start publishing educational textbooks for teachers and students in the fields of language learning and the study of academic skills.
When I first started work at the University of Kent in 2010, I was appointed as Director of the Centre for English and World Languages, which added back into my role the leadership of world language teaching for home and international students. That was a really exciting opportunity to work with students from across the University.
Although I already had my FHEA for about 10 years, I was very well supported by my institution when I sought to take the PGCHE at Kent a few years ago. I had previously done another course while at Reading, which led to FHEA, but it felt like time for an update of my skills and this was the perfect opportunity.
I decided to consider applying for PFHEA in 2017 as I felt that my career had taken another major turn, as I had moved into my role as Dean in 2015. I felt that my influence and impact could be recognised and strengthened, by gaining Principal Fellowship.
My next step was to attended a writing retreat in London, led by the HEA. This one-day session was delivered by Sally Bradley, who filled me with confidence to pursue the PFHEA application. Sally’s support also didn’t end after the one-day session. I felt that having someone to review elements of my writing was amazingly useful, during the reflective process. When you are completing the PFHEA application process, sometimes you do need advice to help you to realise when you need to be more specific, especially when you're providing evidence of the dimensions of the UKPSF. In some cases, you know you’ve achieved something in your own mind but making it clear in writing may need some extra detail for the reader to grasp this. This is where a coach or a mentor comes in really useful.
My career has involved a great deal of teaching and continuous critical reflection on my methodological approaches. This is also what has led me to take on my current role as Dean, given the potential influence that it has on international education across the institution that I work for, and beyond.
I have always greatly enjoyed teaching and leading and developing teachers in Higher Education. I am passionate about international education, language learning and curriculum internationalisation. For transnational education to succeed, I believe it is essential for there to be high quality learning opportunities which lead to meaningful and transferable learning outcomes. Working towards HEA Fellowship is a very useful way to encourage staff to maintain a principled, informed and outcomes-driven approach to their teaching and involvement in student experience.
Now that I have moved into a leadership role, I don’t spend as much time in the classroom as I once did, but through the teaching activities which I am able to undertake, I teach on international pathways, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and staff training. This gives me an invaluable and up-to-date insight into the lives and challenges of our students and staff at a range of levels. However, in my position as Dean, I have frequently felt that colleagues are not always aware of the teaching and education experience which has played a role in preparing me for my current position.
Gaining recognition as one of the few PFHEAs in my institution is particularly important to me as it provides sector-level recognition of the contribution which I have made to teaching and student experience in international Higher Education, across my career. It also validates the commitment I have to continue to be involved in the education of students from all over the world who chose to study at Kent. This is through both leadership and teaching activities.
Gaining PFHEA also brings with it an additional sense of responsibility to ensure that my teaching practice continues to set a high standard. As I’m now in a senior leadership role, it has also given me strong impetus to keep involved with teaching as much as I can, alongside my other priorities and duties. In some situations, senior colleagues may argue that there isn’t time to teach, but I feel that for those of us who have taught, it is important to remain involved or there is risk of becoming disconnected from what is such a crucial and rewarding element of Higher Education.
For more information about Principal Fellowship please click here.