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Becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

19 Apr 2018 | Michele Bourne Michèle has worked in Higher Education for over twenty five years, having worked at the University of Reading, the University of Northampton and since 2007 at Keele University.

This blog was originally posted on the former Higher Education Academy website.

Michèle has worked in Higher Education for over twenty five years, having worked at the University of Reading, the University of Northampton and since 2007 at Keele University. Michèle studied at Oxford Brookes University, completing her degree with the Open University. She teaches on the Computational Thinking module, the IT modules, Communication Skills modules and on the Academic Development module. Michèle has a Postgraduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education and an MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. 

Recently, after a long and meandering journey, I finally became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a recognition of my experience and hard work, teaching in universities.

I’ve worked in Higher Education for 28 years in various capacities and at three different universities. In 2005, I was working as a senior lecturer at Northampton University. The university wanted to encourage good practice and all staff were encouraged to take a Post Graduate Certificate of Teaching in Higher Education (PGCTHE). I benefitted from the ideas put forward, from spending time thinking about how students learn and how I teach, and from sharing ideas with colleagues. I came across many interesting ideas about learning and teaching for the first time.

In 2010, when I began working at Keele University as a teaching fellow, I found out that the university ran a series of courses to develop teaching skills, which would eventually lead to an MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. I was able to transfer credit from my PGCTHE in place of completing the first year of the course, Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (TLHEP) , and went on to complete modules on Teaching and Learning with Technology, and an action research project. Once again, I found it very helpful to have time where I could share ideas with work colleagues and where I could focus on the skills and ideas behind my teaching, rather than simply doing the job.

Towards the end of the course, I learned that those people who completed the TLHEP automatically received fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) as a part of the course. I asked whether this would apply to me, but was told that as I had transferred credit from an award which had not been mapped to the UK Professional Standards Framework, I would have to follow a continuous professional development (CPD) route, putting together a portfolio of evidence of my experience over the years. At the start of the 2017 academic year, I duly booked myself onto the course, and attended the first sessions. However, I was in for a shock. Apparently, my teaching experience at Keele would not be considered relevant! I teach on the Foundation Year at Keele, which is level three teaching, and HEA only wanted to know about level four or higher. I was very disappointed that Foundation Year study wasn’t included, as it is so different from A level study. Students need to have a minimum of 64 UCAS points to be accepted onto the course and are adults. They take modules at the university. They are expected to organise their own time, study privately, they take assessment which is set by the university and in every way are full university students.

The course leader was extremely supportive and contacted HEA to ask about this. She was soon in touch with me, saying that this was something that HEA had been looking at. I put my application on hold, and waited for more news. In January 2018, the news arrived. HEA had decided to recognize Foundation Year experience as relevant university teaching experience! My course leader contacted me to see if I wanted to continue with my application, but by now, I thought that it would be better if I waited until the following academic year.

However, to my surprise, in March I received an e-mail from HEA, saying that as I had now completed an accredited provision (my MA in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education), I had been granted fellowship! I quickly printed of the certificate and pinned it proudly to my office wall.

Do you have experience of Foundation Year teaching? What do you think of this change in policy at HEA?

Find out more about Fellowship.

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