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How to get your Senior Fellowship application finished

03 Jun 2019 | Advance HE Three Senior Fellows and National Teaching Fellowship winners offer their top tips for applying for Senior Fellowship.

My route to Senior Fellowship involved reflecting, quite deeply and honestly, on my management style and the initiatives I have put in place to support colleagues. Yes, I had some good examples of successful co-ordination and mentoring. But my attempts had not always worked and it was important to recognise my own professional development in this area. The SFHEA process is not a tick box exercise. It requires real thought about your own effectiveness in teaching & learning and the influence you have had on colleagues’ professional practice. Sometimes, that includes where things didn’t quite go right and what you learned from the experience. One of my favourite parts of my role as Faculty Lead for Staff Development is the opportunity to work with experienced colleagues who are working towards SFHEA. We have some fantastic discussions about their career to date, where they are headed, and what they want to do next. I’m very proud to be a Senior Fellow and to be supporting the next generation of Senior Fellows in my Faculty.

-    Elaine Gregersen, Associate Professor, Northumbria Law School and Faculty Staff Development Lead, Northumbria University


My tip for anyone putting together a Senior Fellowship submission is to gather all your evidence in one place first. When I began the application process I found that I had evidence stored in many different places, some in folders on my computer, some available through web links, certificates filed away at the bottom of a drawer, events stored in my head. So, I spent some time pulling all this together in an ePortfolio; just a simple Google site, nothing special. Here I could see my strongest themes emerging and I could follow timelines, points of impact and evidence of success. The two strongest themes became clear and I used these for my case studies, I could easily refer to my ePortfolio to weave the evidence throughout. I continued to maintain my ePortfolio, adding new items all the time, conferences I’ve presented at, new processes that have been adopted within the University, links to blog posts, research papers and even videoed guest lectures I’ve presented. Over the last few years, I started to see how I was expanding my reach and impact beyond the University. The unexpected benefit of this was that it helped me achieve my National Teaching Fellowship (2018) as well!

-    Paula Shaw, Academic Manager for Healthcare and Education, University of Derby

Sarah George

Grasp opportunities, no matter how inconvenient. If you’re offered the chance to be involved in a project, take on an unfamiliar task or a new role, take it if at all possible! For Senior Fellowship, you need two case studies. These do not need to be “projects” as such. However,   it does help you if you have discrete bodies of work on which to reflect, that you can track from genesis to outcome, and for which you can clearly demonstrate outcomes. Sometimes, these opportunities come at distinctly inopportune times: my application for the internal selection process of the NTF was due in the maelstrom of the first week of the academic year when I was literally laid low with sciatica, my application being composed one-handed whilst prone on my office floor. Not great timing!

Not in my job description. I am of the firm opinion that most librarians can attain Senior Fellowship solely by undertaking their usual duties. However, if you do get the opportunity to take on activities outside your usual remit it gives you additional material for reflection. 

Not in THEIR job description! In addition to the brilliant bosses who allowed me time and the dedicated and long-suffering mentors who guided me, I had considerable assistance from those whose job it definitely wasn’t! These include naggers-in-chief and the equally important sanity-checkers. The former relentlessly pursue me to ensure I am meeting deadlines and didn’t accept my pathetic excuses. The latter give me pitying looks when I suggest ridiculous schemes and advise I cut down on my caffeine, but conversely encourage me with stupid ideas that might still be feasible.  

Shout about it! Publish what you’re doing, even if you think it’s quite mundane. This doesn’t have to be formal journal articles: writing blogs or newsletter articles and running workshops can be equally valuable. Anything that demonstrates your impact on the learning and teaching of others is valuable evidence for Senior and Principal Fellow. Whatever you’re doing, write it up! 

But why Senior Fellowship recognition? After all, we have our own professional recognition in the form of CILIP Chartership. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I chartered back in 2007 and have revalidated several times since. But in conversations with academic colleagues and senior managers (those who set our budgets!) the subject of chartership has never once been mentioned. My Senior Fellowship, on the other hand, is often why I’m having those conversations. It has got me into a few unfamiliar and unexpected places, including mentoring eminent professors and heads of department.

-    Sarah George, Subject Librarian for Archaeology, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Forensics and Integrated Science and Co-Faculty Librarian for Life Sciences, University of Bradford

Escape life’s interruptions and progress with your application on an Advance HE Senior Fellow Writing Retreat:

Senior Fellow Writing Retreat - thestudio, Birmingham - Tue, 25/06/2019

Senior Fellow Writing Retreat - Office for Students, London - Wed, 10/07/2019


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