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Principal Fellowship

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

COVID-19 update

Along with the rest of the sector, Advance HE is adjusting to the challenging times in which we all find ourselves. We are determined to support our members by delivering as much as possible online and maintaining the best possible, flexible service. Our staff are well-versed and rehearsed in working remotely and our IT systems robust.

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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.

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.


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.

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 your Principal Fellow guidance pack to find out more and commence your application.

Applying and application fees 2019 - 20

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 subscribing institution) - No cost
Accredited Provision (individual from a non-subscribing institution) - £500
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from a subscribing institution) - £500
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from non-subscribing institution) - £1,000

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.


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

Meet some of our Principal Fellows

Jane Thomas

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. 

Michael Arthur

I started thinking about Principal Fellowship because I had a lifetime of work in education and teaching across three different universities – Southampton, Leeds and UCL – that I wanted to pull together. Once I started, I thought, why haven’t I done this before? I was well supported by Advance HE and very pleased to be able to achieve such a high level.

Caroline Bowsher

I’ve had a sabbatical. I’ve been a student. I’m an HEA Senior Fellow. And I’m an HEA Principal Fellow. All in all, it’s been quite a process, and quite a year or two.

Principal Fellowship Information 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 by completing the form below.


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