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The University of Southampton
Centre for Higher Education Practice

Criteria for Principal Fellowship of the HEA

Applicants for Principal Fellowship of the HEA must demonstrate that they meet Descriptor 4 of The UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).

(View criteria for HEA Fellow, Senior Fellow)

Descriptor 4: Principal Fellow of the HEA

UKPSF Description                                       

Typical roles                                     

Example activities                                   

Demonstrates a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. Individuals should be able to provide evidence of:

I. Active commitment to and championing of all Dimensions of the Framework, through work with students and staff, and in institutional developments

II. Successful, strategic leadership to enhance student learning, with a particular, but not necessarily exclusive, focus on enhancing teaching quality in institutional, and/ or (inter)national settings

III. Establishing effective organisational policies and/or strategies for supporting and promoting others (e.g. through mentoring, coaching) in delivering high quality teaching and support for learning

IV. Championing, within institutional and/or wider settings, an integrated approach to academic practice (incorporating, for example, teaching, learning, research, scholarship, administration etc.)

V. A sustained and successful commitment to, and engagement in, continuing professional development related to academic, institutional and/or other professional practices

Individuals, such as highly experienced academics, able to provide evidence of a sustained and effective record of impact at a strategic level in relation to teaching and learning, as part of a wider commitment to academic practice. This may be within their institution or wider (inter)national settings. Typically, those likely to be at Descriptor 4 (D4) include:                      

a. Highly experienced academics and/or senior staff with wide-ranging academic or academic-related strategic leadership responsibilities in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning

b. Staff responsible for institutional strategic leadership and policy- making in the area of teaching and learning

c. Staff who have strategic impact and influence in relation to teaching and learning that extends beyond their own institution


These should include combinations of:

Strategic leadership in relation to the management of change and innovation to enhance student learning across the institution or of wider influence, e.g. innovations in learning and teaching practice

Making a significant and sustained leadership contribution to teaching and learning developments within the institution at a policy level (e.g. initiating and/or leading policy developments; participating in (and often chairing) programme evaluation, discipline/subject review and other audit-related activity), including where appropriate reviews of quality assurance and quality enhancement processes

External roles (e.g. consultancy /professional advice, external examining, institutional reviews, programme evaluations, contributions to scholarly and professional societies, contributions to wider policy making and the development of professional practice)

Achieving national and/or international recognition through contributions to policy developments, publication and the presentation of novel ideas (e.g. via conference keynotes) in areas related to teaching related developments, including pedagogic innovation, applied (e.g. educational, pedagogic) research and scholarship.

Integrated academic practice (successfully balancing multiple roles)




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