Majan University College (MUC) is the longest-established private higher education institution (HEI) in Oman, having opened in 1995. MUC was also the first HEI in the Sultanate to gain institutional accreditation from the OAAA, the national higher education quality assurance agency.
MUC began its relationship with Advance HE in 2017 and the first group of staff who became Senior Fellows emerged in 2018. One of these was Ms Nabila Al Macki, the College’s Deputy Dean for Academic Affairs. Here, Nabila and colleagues share the challenges and celebrate the successes of their teaching and learning practice to become HEA Fellows.
“When the college’s Dean and the Associate Dean (Learning and Teaching) told me about the opportunity of applying for Senior Fellowship, I was at first not really keen because of my already heavy workload. However, after attending the first webinar (conducted by Advance HE from the UK) I realised that this would be a good opportunity for me to reflect on my teaching, academic and administrative responsibilities and to receive recognition for my professional skills and practices.
“At MUC we always try to perform to the best of our abilities and one aspect of the constant striving to improve is that we collect feedback on the College’s operations from a wide range of stakeholders. However, opportunities are rare to sit back and reflect on one’s own practices and the theories that underlie them.
"The process of applying as a Senior Fellow strengthened my awareness of the work that I do and increased my sense of its value. For example, I came to understand more clearly how my work influences the professional practices of my colleagues, creates the environment in which students learn, and ultimately plays a significant role in the life of the whole institution.
"From my perspective, the process of becoming a Senior Fellow helped me to identify many areas of strengths as well as aspects of my performance that I can continue to work on. Certification as Senior Fellow is a badge of professional excellence that is recognised internationally and this adds to my confidence and self-esteem.”
Ms Aziza Amir Ali, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business Management and Programme Manager, Foundation
“After completing my MBA it was my ambition to become a lecturer, although I had previously held purely administrative positions. When I was given a chance to teach, I found that the role of lecturer was indeed rather demanding! I received many positive comments from my students, but not surprisingly there were criticisms too. My response was to keep researching and gathering new ideas that I could apply in the classroom. When the college offered me the chance of applying for Fellowship of the HEA, I did not hesitate for a minute to grasp the opportunity.
“The process of preparing and writing my application involved reflecting on my teaching style and the activities I select and use in the classroom. It provided me with a context in which I could evaluate my practices as an educator, thinking about how I do things and why. I also had to focus on the outcomes of what I do, in terms of evidence of success. One of the best things was reading a wide variety of articles, particularly about methods of teaching mixed ability classes. I also had to go back through my records to find examples of student feedback on my teaching and to look for patterns in it over the years.
“Overall, I can say that, although it was hard work at times, I found the process of applying for Fellowship to be beneficial. I think any lecturer in higher education should seriously consider applying as it will definitely equip the person with a clearer and more explicit awareness of their professional practices and what they are grounded on. The whole experience was one of the most memorable journeys in my professional life.”
Ms Tharaya Al Jabri, Lecturer in Information Technology
“I am an IT lecturer and I am constantly on the lookout for innovative teaching methods that will keep my students engaged in the classroom. Applying for Associate Fellowship gave me an opportunity to reflect on all areas of my teaching practices. It helped me to critically evaluate my teaching style and methods and enabled me to reflect on, and develop, ways to teach IT terminology effectively to students. Through reading various scholarly articles I also gained useful insights on how to resolve issues raised by students. Writing the application for Associate Fellow was especially helpful to me in that I had to collect evidence to support the claims I made and to think carefully about the issues I have faced in my classes. I also found it valuable to reconsider differences in ability and preferences among the different student cohorts that I have taught over the past five years.
“For me, the most enjoyable part of being a lecturer is receiving and analysing student feedback that keeps one’s learning journey alive and never-ending. In fact, I consider the whole process of applying for Associate Fellowship as a learning opportunity and a positive experience. It was extremely beneficial to me as a teacher who strives to add value to the student learning experience.
“Overall, writing the Associate Fellow application helped me to gain a more profound understanding of my teaching strengths and weaknesses as I reflected on the progress of my students and the insights about good pedagogical practices contained in the numerous professional articles I read along the way.”
Dr Brian Poole, Associate Dean (Learning, Teaching & Research)
“As the senior manager at MUC responsible for promoting excellence in learning, teaching and research, I act as the link person with Advance HE and as local advisor to MUC Fellowship candidates.
“The first-person accounts by Tharaya, Aziza and Nabila offer strong evidence of their perception that they gained a lot from the process of application. Although it is challenging at times, applying for an HEA Fellowship in any category provides an opportunity to take time out from one’s busy schedule and reflect on what underpins one’s professional practices.
"At MUC we have been one of the pioneers in Oman in entering groups of our staff as HEA Fellows. We continue to do so because we believe that each person gains from the process, in terms of professional self-awareness and enhanced opportunities to develop and grow as a lecturer and/or manager of academic staff. Throughout our relationship we have found Advance HE staff in UK to be very supportive, and each of our applicants has been particularly appreciative of the guidance provided via webinars and written feedback on draft applications."
If you are planning to apply for HEA Fellowship take a look at our Fellowship Category Tool to check which Fellowship is right for you. If you are applying for Principal or Senior Fellowship, why not take some time out to reflect on your practice by joining a writing retreat? Find out more and book now.