Talking Teaching: Why I became a HEA Fellow, by Professor Jane Thomas

Professor Jane Thomas

“The HEA is doing brilliant work to raise the recognition of teaching and teachers across the disciplines.”
– Professor Jane Thomas, Deputy Head of College for Human and Health Sciences (Learning and Teaching), Swansea University

Professor Jane Thomas is Deputy Head of College for Human and Health Sciences, (Learning and Teaching) at Swansea University and a Higher Education Academy Principal Fellow.  Here she talks about why being a HEA Fellow is a positive  and affirming experience.

I feel nothing but positive about my HEA fellowship. I found the whole process to be very affirming – in fact I was surprised by how much I felt this – and the HEA were very supportive.

My Principal Fellowship has helped to highlight the importance of good teaching in this university, which is particularly important at the moment with the Teaching Excellence Framework on the horizon. Being a Principal Fellow has enabled me to build internal and external esteem for teaching. Fellowship helps to give teaching a voice.

It has also helped to build my credibility in the university. Before I was a Principal Fellow I think I was seen as just an enthusiast for teaching, but Fellowship gives teaching gravitas, and helps to give it parity with research. It is my privilege now to be able to work with other teachers in the university to help give them a greater voice through working towards HEA Fellowship with our internal scheme.

Principal Fellowship has also helped in my role as an Assessor in Public Health. We know that when people know they are going to be assessed, they check out the person doing the assessing. Being a Principal Fellow – and a National Teaching Fellow – helps me professionally. And access to the community of Principal Fellows has made such a difference to me personally.

The developmental approach that HEA Fellowship uses is fantastic and embodies the true spirit of the HEA. This is partly to do with the UK Professional Standards Framework, the backbone of the HEA’s Fellowship scheme. The Framework is flexible in its application to institutional needs.

The HEA is doing brilliant work to raise the recognition of teaching and teachers across the disciplines and at all levels. This has an impact on students. It’s a generalisation but teachers at the start of their careers tend to be the most enthused. The different levels of Fellowship help to maintain that enthusiasm throughout people’s careers, which of course impacts positively on students.


If you're preparing an application for HEA Senior or Principal Fellowship, attending one of our professional recognition writing days will provide you with time and space to think, discuss and reflect on professional practice and draft a narrative for your Fellowship submission. Find out more about HEA writing retreats for Senior and Principal Fellowship on the HEA website here.