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Principal Fellowship: The way forward, knowledge sharing, mentorship and career progression

13 May 2024 | Dr. Esra Saleh Al Dhaen Dr. Esra Saleh Al Dhaen reflects on the impact of Fellowship on teaching at Ahlia University

As an Executive Director for Strategy, Quality, and Sustainability at Ahlia University Bahrain, I am responsible for leading on education quality and sustainability. 

In our strategic approach to teaching and learning, we promote Advance HE fellowship as professional development for our teaching staff and for those who support teaching. The categories of fellowship offer a fair and robust way to validate academic practices and standards. Underpinning fellowship, is, of course, the Professional Standards Framework (PSF): the four Descriptors of the PSF align with the four categories of fellowship. This link to recognition opportunities reflecting all career paths and stages was a determining factor in adopting fellowship as our strategic approach to enhancing teaching standards. 

The reflective process integral to the PSF, including thinking about applying core knowledge and professional values, is vital for academics to validate their own practices; and to measure their effectiveness in terms of life-long learning and impact. Throughout the process it is always amazing to see faculty members questioning and challenging different approaches to practice; and, of course, this is a vital component of our university’s strategic enhancement of learning.

We find that the PSF is very flexible, recognising the context in which the teaching takes place and it also encourages inclusivity – both from the perspective of the wider range of staff now able to engage with the PSF and “how more inclusive approaches ensure all learners feel respected, valued and have equity in opportunity to succeed.”  This route for faculty professional development has supported our institutional approaches to diversity, lifelong learning, and reducing inequalities including Ahlia University’s commitment towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). 

The process has revealed many examples of innovative teaching with real value and impact on learners’ success. Notably working with the PSF also meant faculty members worked to address the needs of diverse learners. The emphasis on the use of technological approaches allowed our academics to transition smoothly to blended learning. Faculty members also found the PSF useful to support revisions to revise their courses to be catered to and create fair and transparent assessments to support the attainment of learning outcomes. 

For me, obtaining Principal Fellowship has been an amazing experience that has provided recognition for my development of institutional strategies to enhance and achieve excellence in teaching and learning. 

Find out more about the Global Fellowships Relay – #FellowshipsRelay2024.

Join our webinar on the 5 June for the launch of Advance HE's Gulf Regional Fellowship Network.

If your institution is interested in building your Fellowship communities, find out about the range of support we have to offer here


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