Skip to main content

Taking the dialogue route to Fellowship, it’s good to talk!

27 Mar 2023 | Kate Soper Kate Soper, Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor (TELA) from Manchester Metropolitan University, explains how she learned to love the professional dialogue route to Senior Fellowship.

Manchester Metropolitan University offers a dialogue route to fellowship through its accreditation with Advance HE. To offer a similar scheme at your institution, find out more about Advance HE accreditation for fellowship here.

Like many others, applying for Senior Fellowship has been languishing on my to-do list for quite some time now. However, with the pandemic, the aftermath of the pandemic and adjusting to a new normal, it was being pushed further and further down the list. As always, it can be hard to prioritise your own professional development when there are so many other pressing things that need to be addressed and there were always handy excuses available for not being able to find the time.  

In all honestly, I think “lack of time” had become a bit of a safety blanket as well. I also suffer from a healthy dose of imposter syndrome when it comes to applying for things like this, so despite encouragement from management in my team, I was finding it hard to get started. But then something changed the landscape at Manchester Met, and I was intrigued.

Manchester Met introduced a Professional Dialogue Route

A colleague and fellowship mentor at Manchester Met approached me last summer to tell me that they had introduced a professional dialogue route to Senior Fellowship. This, he assured me, would be a discussion about what I had achieved, rather than a written report or presentation. Now this grabbed my attention, talking is something I am rather good at! So, I thought maybe I could find the time to complete my evidence grid, and maybe this could be the right moment to give this a go after all.

Preparing my evidence grid

One of the biggest advantages of the dialogue route is that in preparing your evidence grid, you are intrinsically preparing for your professional dialogue. You are constrained in the grid by how much evidence and detail you can contain, but anything you need to remove, you can discuss in more detail during your dialogue, so nothing is wasted.

My biggest tip in compiling the evidence grid is don’t forget about impact. When I first started on my fellowship journey, many years ago now, I got into the habit of saving any feedback or impact statements I had from the work I was undertaking. This proved invaluable when it came to collating evidence for my grid, as it served a dual purpose of providing important evidence of leadership and served to jog my memory of the interesting and varied projects I’d worked on over the years.

Preparing for the dialogue

You are given the opening question in advance, and it is recommended that you have a practice run through with your mentor before doing the official dialogue. However, in terms of preparation, all your hard work in compiling the evidence grid has really done that for you. The actual professional dialogue was a pleasure, it’s so rare that you have a lovely panel of people who want to listen to you talk about what you have achieved. I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.

The process has been so rewarding, carving out the time to complete my evidence grid enabled me to reflect on what I have achieved during my time at Manchester Met and I was proud to be able to discuss my impact with the review panel. If you're at Manchester Met, I couldn’t recommend the dialogue route more – would you be willing to give it a try?


Kate Soper has been a Technology Enhanced Learning Advisor at Manchester Metropolitan University for the past nine years. She is the co-creator of the open access microlearning blog 1minutecpd.

Support for Fellowship applications

We have a range of services available for those looking for additional support with their Fellowship, Senior Fellowship and Principal Fellowship applications. Find out more


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