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Principal Fellowship

Fellowship demonstrates a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education.

The UKPSF and Principal Fellowship

Principal Fellowship is awarded to professionals who demonstrate they meet the criteria of Descriptor 4 of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

By applying to become a Principal Fellow of the HEA you will present a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and academic development as a key contribution to high quality student learning. You should be able to provide evidence of:

  • Active commitment to and championing of all Dimensions of the Framework, through work with students and staff, and in institutional developments;
  • 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;
  • Establishing effective organisational policies and/or strategies for supporting and promoting others (e.g. through mentoring, coaching) high quality teaching and support for learning;
  • Championing, within institutional and/or wider settings, an integrated approach to academic practice (incorporating, for example, teaching, learning, research, scholarship, administration etc.);
  • A sustained and successful commitment to, and engagement in, continuing professional development related to academic, institutional and/or other professional practices.

Download the Principal Fellowship pack

If you feel that you are working within this category, download your Principal Fellow guidance pack to find out more about how to apply.

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Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) brings you a range of benefits:

  • Consolidating your personal development and evidence of your strategic influence in your higher education career;
  • Demonstrating your commitment to teaching, learning and the student experience, through engagement in a practical process that encourages research, reflection and development;
  • Principal Fellowship is increasingly sought by employers across the education sector as a criterion of appointment and promotion for strategic management and leadership positions;
  • For individuals, to identify their expertise with the entitlement to use post-nominal letters – PFHEA;
  • Recognised and valued by a growing number of international institutions.
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Is Principal Fellowship for you?

Are you a highly experienced professional, 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 your institution or wider (inter)national settings. Typically, those likely to be eligible to apply for Principal Fellowship are:

  • highly experienced and/or senior staff with wide-ranging academic or academic-related strategic leadership responsibilities in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning;
  • staff responsible for institutional strategic leadership and policymaking in the area of teaching and learning;
  • staff who have strategic impact and influence in relation to teaching and learning that extends beyond their own institution.

If you feel that you are working within this category download your Principal Fellow guidance pack to find out more about how to apply.

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Fellowship Category Tool

Our Fellowship Category Tool has been designed to help you understand which category of Fellowship most closely reflects your current practice and to reflect on your ongoing professional development and career aspirations.

After you have answered a series of choice questions, which will take around 10-20 minutes, you will be shown your results and a PDF report summarising your responses will be sent to you.

Use the Fellowship Category Tool
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Applying and application fees

There are various application routes for Fellowship, they are made in writing and need to be supported by written references. Find out more about the available application routes.

Application fees vary depending on the route you take to Fellowship, with individuals from subscribing institutions benefiting from discounted fees.


Accredited Provision (individual from a member institution) - No cost
Accredited Provision (individual from a non-member institution) - £550
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from a member institution) - £550
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from non-member institution) - £1100

Principal Fellow Writing Retreats

If you are thinking of applying for Principal Fellowship, our Principal Fellow Writing Retreats are designed to help you create an application that fully reflects your practice. 

Find out more
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Do you want to support your staff to achieve Fellowship?

Advance HE offers Fellowship support to institutions through a structured process:

  • Fellowship workshops - sessions helping your staff understand Fellowship and the application process
  • Fellowship Writing Retreats - expert support providing a structured and guided environment in which to construct an application for Fellowship
  • draft Fellowship applications reviews - a consultant will review applications and provide annotated feedback, including points for further development.

All of these services can be delivered online.

Find out more
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Principal Fellow Record of Educational Impact Support Session (PFREI)

These support sessions are aimed at colleagues who are in the process of completing their direct Principal Fellow application (Descriptor 4 of the UKPSF), who need more guidance on the Record of Educational Impact (REI) element. Participants will be asked to complete a template on which to collate their strategic interventions, and will receive constructive feedback in a one-to-one session with an experienced Advance HE reviewer to help them progress their Principal Fellow applications.

Interested participants should book their place via the My Advance HE customer portal to receive a directed template to complete. They will then be contacted directly to arrange a convenient time for their virtual one-to-one session with the reviewer.

Register your interest
PFREI quote
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Meet some of our Principal Fellows

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Annamarie McKie

University for the Creative Arts
Read Annamarie's blog
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