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Centre for Higher Education Practice

Professor Shelley Parr BSc; PGCert; PhD; PFHEA

Director, Research & Enterprise Professional Development Lead

Professor Shelley Parr's photo

Professor Shelley Parr is the Director of the Centre for Higher Education Practice at the University of Southampton. The Centre for Higher Education Practice (CHEP) was recently formed to transform the professional learning of staff and doctoral students for their academic activities, and Shelley is responsible for leading this change as well as developing and implementing a strategic plan for the new Centre.

CHEP will promote academic professional learning for every member of University staff, in all areas of academic activity and at every stage of their career. Working in partnerships with faculties, CHEP will enable staff to reach their full potential and achieve more together.

After attaining a first class degree in Biological Sciences (Physiology) and PhD in Medical Physiology (Thesis title: Deafness in Meningitis) at the University of Birmingham Prof Parr undertook one postdoctoral research position (Effectiveness of Ginkgo biloba in treating tinnitus) and successfully published her findings in the BMJ before deciding to actively pursue a career in teaching and learning in higher education (in preference to a career in medical research). Prof Parr was appointed as a Teaching Fellow at the University of Birmingham in 2000 and subsequently Lecturer upon completing a PGCert in Teaching and Learning. Prof Parr moved to Cardiff University in 2004 for a similar post. In both posts she was responsible for delivering teaching, assessment and student support to science, medical and dental students and a range of module, programme and curriculum change leadership responsibilities. Before leaving Cardiff Prof Parr was the Deputy Subdean (Academic) for the Medical Programme meaning she was responsible for all of the academic aspects of years 1 and 2 of the BM programme.

In 2007 Prof Parr made the decision to step out of medical education and take up an educational developer appointment at the University of Southampton to advance and widen her knowledge, understanding and experience of educational theory, evidence and practice whilst also developing and widening her skills in staff development, quality assurance and quality enhancement. She was responsible for leading a range of university wide enhancement activities including the PGCert in Academic Practice for which she was awarded a University Vice Chancellors teaching award in 2011. She worked with HR for the PVC (Education) to lead development of a new Framework for the professional development of staff at Southampton with respect to Education that was accredited by the HEA and is now in place as PREP.

In January 2011 Prof Parr went back into Medical Education as the BM4 (graduate entry medicine) Programme Leader in the Faculty of Medicine and successfully lead this programme until April 2017 when she finally accepted she needed to relinquish the role due to her significant other responsibilities.  In 2014 Professor Parr was successfully appointed to the role as Head of the Academic Unit for Medical Education (HoAUME), however she relinquished this role in 2015 to act as the interim Associate Dean (Education for the Faculty). Upon Appointment of a permanent, Associate Dean Prof Parr chose to take on the role as Director of Undergraduate Programmes rather than return to her HoAUME role.

In 2014 Prof Parr lead a team of staff and students who submitted a successful application on behalf of the Faculty for an international ASPIRE student engagement award.

Professor Parr’s sustained and significant skills, experience and reputation for academic excellence in learning and teaching was recognised in 2015 through her Principal Fellowship of the HEA and in 2016 when she was promoted to Professorial Fellow in Medical Education.

In 2018 Prof Parr was successfully appointed to the Director of CHEP role at the University of Southampton and is thrilled to be responsible for a major aspect of the University 10 Year Plan and strategy in leading the transformation of professional learning of academic staff at Southampton.

Prof Parr has actively pursued a career in teaching and learning in higher education (in preference to a career in research) since her one and only postdoctoral position in 1998-2000 (in which she published in the BMJ). In these subsequent education-focused roles she has not been expected to conduct research and has instead focused on scholarly activities that enhance her skills and reputation as an educator.

Scholarly Activities:

Prof Parr has presented scholarly work at National and International Conferences on the topics of:

  • CPD Education programmes in HE (including being an Invited Speaker at the HEA conference)
  • Innovative use of Audience response systems
  • Student Engagement Best Practice (including being an Invited Speaker at the AMEE conference)
  • Demographics of Graduate Entry Programme Students at the University of Southampton
  • Postgraduate Certificates in Academic Practice at the SEDA conference 2008 

Prof Parr has acted as External Examiner for:

  • Year 1 of the BDS programme at Cardiff University 2011/12 to 2015/2016
  • Year 1 of the Graduate Entry Programme at Birmingham University 2014/15-2018/19

Prof Parr has contributed to National Policies and Strategies regarding Medical Education through a number of national groups:

  • Medical Schools Council Education Leads Meeting
  • Graduate Entry Annual Meeting
  • Medical Schools Council Various Meetings – Fitness to Practice, Admissions
  • GMC Quality Leads Meetings
  • ESTICT (Engaging students through in class technology) National Steering Group Member
  • GMC Annual Conference

Prof Parr as an International advisor on Student Engagement and the ASPIRE programme through membership of:

  • Active Membership of the International ASPIRE ACADEMY
  • Regular presentations and workshops on Student Engagement at the AMEE conference
  • Acting as an advisor to potential ASPIRE applicants
  • Providing other consultancy advice/presentations as necessary e.g. Med Ed World Webinar

Prof Parr has provided advice to other UK National Institutions on developing CPD frameworks for academic staff development:

  • During HEA change academy to develop a CPD framework for staff development
  • During an invited presentation at the HEA conference
  •  Email requests for advice from other institutions within the UK who were directed to her through the HEA.

Prof Parr has acted as a reviewer Nationally for:

  • Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship applications
  • Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellowship Fund Applications
  • Academic Review of the Masters Programmes at Birmingham University Medical School
  • Academic review of a physiology textbook: Third Edition of Human Physiology, An Integrated Approach by Dee Unglaub Silverthorn.

Prof Parr has provided physiology teaching to other UK organisations: 

  • Anatomy and Physiology MSc Level Course for Medical Physicists at Coventry University
  • Audiologists Course at City Hospital, Birmingham
  • Physiology and Sport Talk at St Cyres Biomedical Science Conference, St Cyres Comprehensive School, Penarth.
  • Nutrition for power based athletics year 2 lecture, Cardiff School of Biosciences

Faculty of Social Sciences

Director of Centre for Higher Education Practice. Leading the development of a Business Plan for the centre, designing and delivering its strategic direction and transformation of professional learning at Southampton.

Current chairing of Committees/Meetings

  • CHEP Senior Management Group Chair
  • Various working groups as yet to confirm

Current member of the following:

  • ESEG Member
  • Shared Services Working Group Member
  • Other committees as yet to be confirmed
  • HEA Accredited Programmes Advisory Group
  • PREP Panel Member


As Director of CHEP Prof Parr in partnership with faculites and other professional development services in the university is ultimately responsible for ensuring all staff within the University have the professional learning support they need to develop and achieve their full potential in relation to their education roles.


Professor Shelley Parr
Faculty of Social Sciences
Building 58, Room 4127
University of Southampton
University Road
SO17 1BJ

Room Number : 58/Mostly working from home - 2100

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