In 2016, I applied for a senior fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) in the UK. But why, as a teacher from the Netherlands, would you do this? Especially as it is quite expensive. A question that colleagues have asked me often, as I already have a senior qualification in teaching of our own university. What is the added value of having another acknowledgement of my achievements in education besides the one recognised by Utrecht University?
My main answer would be that applying for the senior fellowship of the HEA corresponds with my teaching philosophy. I believe in challenging and activating students, and stimulating them to reflect on their own learning. As you should practice what you teach, I also want to challenge myself and think outside the box. Reflection is a key element of developing myself and life-long learning, and what better way of doing that than writing an application for a senior fellowship. An added value is that a fellowship of the HEA is internationally recognized.
The HEA defines four types of recognitions described in the UK professional standards framework (UKPSF): Associate Fellow (for staff who support education or beginning teachers), Fellow (comparable to our BKO), Senior Fellow (comparable to our SKOw) and Principal Fellow (for insititutional or national leaders in education). The application for senior fellow is divided in to two parts: 1. an account of professional practice, which is a reflective commentary on your higher education roles, responsibilities and professional experience, and 2. two case studies outlining contributions you have made to learning and teaching in higher education, which demonstrate how you have organised, led and/or managed specific aspects of teaching and learning. And all of that, including references, in a maximum of 6000 words. I especially liked writing the case studies. It was a great way to reflect on two major projects that I had undertaken the last years and it really helped to outline my professional experience. Something that you could also use when you are working on your BKO or SKO for the UU.
When you want to apply for a Fellowship of the HEA it is a good idea to contact someone from the UK who is aware of the UKPSF, to ask for feedback on your draft application. In my case that really helped me to sharpen my application. All the effort payed off and the senior fellowship was granted. Are there extra benefits or do I get a certain position now? No, but it really gives me a feeling of satisfaction, and the reflection process definitely has been a part of my own further development as a teacher.
Want to have a go or just interested? You can find more information here