It is indeed a deep honour to be recognised for excellence in teaching and learning at a national level in the UK and I am absolutely delighted that I was able to win this prestigious national award for my institution, the University of West London (UWL)! I am also humbled to have been nominated from an institution that is top in the UK for student satisfaction* (*average of all questions), student voice and academic support** (**excluding specialists) (NSS 2022) and top 10 in the UK for teaching quality (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022), where there are a plethora of highly qualified and experienced staff members doing amazing things.
Some of my contributions to promote inclusiveness in HE and empower females into the finance profession
UWL is a career-focused university with a diverse community of students, and a strong commitment to widening participation and improving social mobility. The university ethos aligns with my own values and aspirations, and I am very passionate about helping students unlock their career potential. Inclusiveness, innovation, staff and student achievement, and student experience are my core drivers. Moreover, as a Principal Fellow and a fellow member of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), I actively engage in my own professional development and use my learning to inform and inspire others.
Participation of female graduates in finance careers still lag significantly behind their male counterparts, even when the graduates have read finance as the major for their degrees. At UWL, I have had the opportunity to empower many students, especially women, into choosing finance careers. Together with my team, I have embedded employability skills into the curriculum through the application of a spiral curriculum which has helped break down self-perceptions that were acting as barriers. I have also brought together networks of employers and professional bodies to promote the role of women in the finance profession. I even included some of my female accountancy undergraduates in school outreach programmes to encourage girls into finance, which in turn had an empowering effect on my female undergraduates.
The participation rates of female accountancy majors in graduate careers, as well as general student satisfaction on the accounting and finance courses, have improved significantly because all students benefited from these initiatives. In addition to that, being a global council member of ACCA has enabled me to support diversity, inclusion and innovation in the finance profession by contributing to strategy formulation and governance activities; I also provide insights from the higher education sector to help shape the ACCA qualification for students worldwide.
A supportive and nurturing environment
Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with and learn from exceptional individuals, which has been a tremendous influence on my own pedagogical practices. The support I have had from UWL has been incredible to say the least: Dr Suresh Gamlath, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Business Development (former Dean of The Claude Littner Business School) who entrusted me with all these initiatives, all my colleagues from the Business School, and colleagues from the University’s Academic Development Unit - the Centre for Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) (formerly known as ExPERT Academy), in particular Jessica Frye and Kate Hellman, who provided valuable feedback even during the weekend.
A special mention of thanks to ACCA for being a passport for success, and to my parents, Ravi and Savithri, and husband, Nadun for being a constant source of support and inspiration.
My aspirations and advice to future NTFs
As an NTF, I hope to continue transforming teaching, learning and assessment approaches to improve student outcomes and experience, and sharing knowledge with colleagues around the world. Ten years ago, I would not have even dreamt that I would be an NTF today, but a combination of hard work and perseverance got me here, and my advice to future NTFs is to never stop exploring new possibilities and never underestimate your potential to innovate! And on that note….
Do you have any innovative initiatives or projects that have positively impacted your students?
Dr Dinusha Weerawardane (PhD, MSc, BSc. (Hons), LLB (Hons) Business Law, FCCA, NTF, PFHEA, CMgr MCMI) is the Head of Subject for Accounting and Finance at the University of West London and an ACCA Global Council Member.