The HEA champions excellent learning and teaching in higher education, and we award our highest level of recognition, Principal Fellow status (PFHEA) to individuals who demonstrate a sustained and effective record of impact at strategic level, as well as a wider commitment to academic practice and strategic leadership in teaching and enhancing the student learning experience.
At the time of writing, more than 877 experienced staff have taken the opportunity to gain recognition as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA). Not just in the UK but globally. Furthermore, Principal Fellowship is not restricted to teaching-focused institutions but evident across all mission groups. Why? Because senior staff are taking a lead, demonstrating the personal importance they place on teaching and being a role model for colleagues.
The number of researchers who have gained Principal Fellowship is growing - indeed one of the first PFHEAs was a research professor. And we also have Vice-Chancellors at research intensive universities who are already Fellows, including Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt, Vice Chancellor of Australia National University (ANU) who has urged staff at his university to, “Take this opportunity to have their engagement with our students valued and recognised.”
ANU is one of a number of institutions outside the UK which have an HEA Accredited CPD scheme. And, to date, 11 institutions are fully-fledged international subscribers to the HEA.
Our first Vice-Chancellor of a Russell Group university to gain PFHEA status was Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost, University College London.
He explained: “Teaching has always been on the map alongside research, as far as I’m concerned. They are of equal importance in universities and I have sought to highlight that wherever I have worked.
“At UCL, we have got a huge push on research-based teaching. I am passionate about it and the benefits for students. I wanted to send a loud signal that we are focused on excellent teaching. The HEA is the senior professional body for learning and teaching. What better way to demonstrate my commitment to excellent teaching than by taking part in the application process and becoming an HEA Principal Fellow.”
Professor Bob Cryan, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield agrees that achieving recognition through the UKPSF allows universities to “publicly demonstrate the professionalism of our teaching staff, which is something we are very proud of.”
Huddersfield was the first higher education institution to celebrate 100% of its teaching staff achieving HEA Fellow status in 2012, an achievement which Bob believes contributed to a greater level of student satisfaction. And in 2017, the University won the inaugural HEA and Time’s Higher Education Global Teaching Excellence Award (GTEA), the first award that creates a global benchmark to showcase exceptional institution-wide commitment to the pursuit of teaching and learning excellence in higher education. Huddersfield’s winning entry demonstrated outstanding world-class teaching and impact on student success, in developing students to be independent learners and critical thinkers.
Professor Martin Hall, former VC of the University of Salford, is now Emeritus Professor at the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, and Research Director for GetSmarter, which provides online courses for working professionals in partnership with leading universities. Martin was one of the first Vice-Chancellors to gain Principal Fellow status, and explained that HEA Fellowship is a “great way” to “improve the quality of learning and teaching and the student experience.”
He explained that he wanted to “lead by example” in recognising the vocation of teaching, adding that although applying for PF was one of the “most challenging things I’ve ever done”, the process of application was “actually very valuable in itself…as it requires you to completely re-think what you think about yourself. It forces you into contemplation about what you’re doing.”
For further information about becoming a Principal Fellow please click here.