Skip to main content

My journey to Senior Fellow and some tips to help you along the way

12 Mar 2021 | Laura Stinson As part of Senior Fellow Month in March, Laura Stinson of Nottingham Trent University shares her journey through the Senior Fellowship application process and her top tips for prospective applicants.

This blog was originally published on Laura’s personal blog.

As part of my role within the Fellowship team at NTU, I am very good at telling colleagues to leave their modesty at the door and shout about their practice. When it comes to me doing this… I am not so good at taking my own advice! So, when the idea of starting to build my own Senior Fellow submission was suggested I think my first comment was ‘Senior Fellow?! Am I ‘there’ yet? I don’t teach students and how do I influence others?’ This is not the right time, I am not ready blah blah blah excuses excuses! It was very much a case of imposter syndrome setting in. It was time for me to take my own advice and realise that you don’t need to be an academic or teacher to make a difference to learning and teaching. We have a range of Senior Fellows at NTU from technicians to employability staff. I just had to build my profile and evidence to join them on the Senior Fellow can be for anyone making a difference to learning and teaching train!

Dipping my toe in the water with AFHEA

My journey to Fellowship started when I applied for Associate Fellow a few years ago following some work I had been doing with placement students and working with students to build employability skills. Associate Fellow at the time seemed like a fairly natural path for me and the writing flowed quite easily. What I didn’t realise at the time was that I was starting to build evidence for Senior Fellow (who knew!).

The reviewers commented that I had signs of a Senior Fellow claim (which again I was modest about!) but now I am on my journey to Senior Fellow and believing a bit more in myself that I have the evidence to get there!

The start of my journey to SFHEA

My current role is more geared towards Senior Fellow so I leapt over Fellow. Something we do need to remember with Fellowship is that it is not about levels. The different categories are very much geared towards the role and influence you are having on learning and teaching. I am involved in some strategic decisions and developing institutional initiatives. Therefore Senior Fellow sits best with my activities as a practitioner and my development. I also mentor and influence others through my practice which is a good grounding for hitting that all important D3.7 descriptor!

Building evidence and impact

What I really need to explore is how I can show the impact of what I am doing and build my SF claim. A great piece of advice I received when starting this journey was ‘to be more magpie’. This has been so helpful as it not only lets me build up evidence of impact but it is also a nice little nudge to help me to leave that modesty at the door. People want to help you to achieve your goals so asking for feedback from peers and little soundbites on how your work has impacted their practice really does help you and it makes you feel a little proud too. Impact can be shown in so many ways so it is always good to remember to be creative in evidencing it!

Something I am finding really useful is to keep a note of things I do that evidence Senior Fellow. It can be little or big things but over time I am starting to see where I need to work on my evidence and develop my claim. Taking time to reflect on your practice is a great way to also work out where you want to go in terms of development and it can really help you to develop as a practitioner overall. I have become a very reflective person during this process!

I’ve also started sharing some of my work through The National Teaching Repository in order to share some of the work I’ve been doing with a wider audience and build on my scholarship. One of my recent videos (Mapping your Practice) has already been viewed over 150 times and downloaded too!

It is our own story…

I am also thinking about what the themes of my Senior Fellow submission will be. My work crosses over several different areas at NTU so it’s about finding that golden thread that can link everything together and give a rich picture of my work. I think we need to remember that this is our chance to tell our learning and teaching story. It is not an academic paper. It is our own professional claim and a chance for us to share our proud moments in learning and teaching. It is not very often we get to blow our own trumpet but Fellowship is as good a time as any to start.

In celebration of Senior Fellow Month, we will be sharing stories from Senior Fellows and applicants over the course of March. 

Are you an individual able to provide evidence of a sustained record of effectiveness in relation to teaching and learning, incorporating for example, the organisation, leadership and/or management of specific aspects of teaching and learning provision? Then Senior Fellowship may be for you.

For further information, resources and and guidance on applying, visit our dedicated Senior Fellowship page.


We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

Keep up to date - Sign up to Advance HE communications

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and best practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

Sign up to our enewsletter