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Collaborative community: Fellowship at its best!

23 Nov 2021 | Jaya Kumar Karunagharan Jaya Kumar Karunagharan from the University of Nottingham Malaysia reflects on his journey to Senior Fellowship and how being in a global community of like-minded practitioners helped him on his way.

“Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counsellors there is safety.” – Proverbs 11:14 (The Bible)

In my journey to Senior Fellowship, I found much help and benefit from being connected to a community of like-minded teaching practitioners who have inspired, guided, and motivated me through the process. One aspect of that community that still impresses me most is its global nature. People from all over the world, whether within my own institution and beyond it, come together to work collaboratively to increase the standards of teaching and learning, and recognise those with good practice. I experienced Fellowship at its best and this is my story!

I pursued the Senior Fellowship in a stepwise manner that involved both directed and self-directed paths. I completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE), which automatically got me Fellowship, and then went through the Nottingham Recognition Scheme (NRS) to obtain Senior Fellowship. Going in completely fresh and functioning within a context that is unfamiliar with the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), I relied on this global community to guide me through. Among other things, I found three crucial aspects to assist me: mentors, motivation and material.

The Mentors

I was fortunate to have had two people volunteer to mentor me in my Senior Fellow submission via the Nottingham Recognition Scheme. One mentor was from within University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) and one from University of Nottingham (UoN), UK. They were very generous with their time and painstakingly read through my submission drafts to provide feedback. My mentor from UNM provided useful context specific points while my UoN mentor helped ground my submission in the UKPSF. I’m grateful to both my mentors as they kept me on track as I chose and developed my body of evidence especially for the two case studies.

The Motivation

Jade Kimberly said in her Tweet, “Completing my Senior Fellowship set me on a path of reflection and appreciation of my body of work and achievements, but supporting others to submit their Fellowship applications really is the cherry on the cake.” Similarly, the Senior Fellowship was important to me because I felt that it would put me in a more informed position to support other colleagues in their pursuit of Fellowship. In fact, the NRS in UNM was about providing a route through which the excellent teaching practice of colleagues here could be recognised. Being the Director of NRS here, I was responsible to help develop the support for colleagues to obtain recognition so the community I served in this context provided the impetus to pursue Senior Fellowship myself. They not only motivated me to pursue Senior Fellowship but continue to keep me motivated to develop further as I build a profile toward Principal Fellow.

The Material

While working towards Senior Fellowship, I had two valuable sources of information: the NRS Moodle page and the Advance HE Knowledge Hub. The resources on the Knowledge Hub have been thoughtfully put together to aid and guide those pursuing Fellowship. I found the UKPSF Dimensions of the Framework document especially useful when I prepared my submission. It provided ideas as to how I could demonstrate my engagement with the Areas of Activity in the UKPSF and how the Areas of Activities interacted with the other dimensions. On the other hand, the NRS Moodle page was well equipped to provide assistance within the specific context of the University and country (Malaysia) I was in. There were sample submissions and referral letter templates among other things. This proved really useful especially since I, like many other academics, work on personal development with a very tight window of opportunity.

Finally, as I reflect on my journey to Senior Fellowship, I remember one aspect that I found most difficult to do: shout about my practice. I’m glad that I now have the opportunity to shout about the way others have had a significant impact, not just on me obtaining Senior Fellowship, but also on my practice as a Senior Fellow. If you had the same opportunity, who would you thank?

Webinar: An introduction to the Professional Standards Framework and Fellowship

Taking place on 2 December 2021, this free-to-attend webinar will provide an introduction to the PSF and Fellowship with speakers from Advance HE, partner institutions and fellows. It will explore the benefits Fellowship provides institutions and individuals with a specific focus on examples from Central Asia. 


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