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Utilising the PSF for strategic transformation

10 Nov 2022 | Jenny Lawrence, Mary Fitzpatrick and Adam Craik Authors Jenny Lawrence, Mary Fitzpatrick and Adam Craik introduce a new collection of case studies on the Professional Standards Framework as part of our Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22.

The Professional Standards Framework (PSF) is a useful tool in understanding and developing effective educational practices in higher education. It is used in the variety of HE providers (HEPs) found across the globe. Recent research suggests embedding the PSF in institutional strategies and policy can enhance the scholarly approach to, and practice and standing of, teaching and learning within an institution (Spowart, Turner, Dismore, Beckmann, Carkett, Khamis 2020).   

However, how the PSF can be used to broker strategic change or institutional transformation is less well documented. This is the rationale for Advance HE to commission us to compile a collection of case studies illustrating how higher education providers are furthering their institutional goals through the purposeful and strategic deployment of the PSF.  

A criterion of Advance HE accreditation is commitment to “The alignment of institutional strategies and approaches to the development of staff that teach and support learning with the PSF” (Criterion 1a).   

Spowart, Turner, Dismore, Beckmann, Carkett, Khamis (2020), identified five common practices: 

  • PSF/accredited provision aligned to institutional strategic objectives eg institutional key performance indicators, Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)  

  • PSF aligned to promotion criteria 

  • achieving Fellowship as a requirement of probation 

  • targets set in relation to number of HEA Fellows 

  • PSF aligned to performance appraisal/performance development. 

We found that that the HE providers that realise strategic change go beyond instituting the PSF and Fellowship in these ways; they also: 

  • embed strategic priorities within their educational Continuous Professional Development (CPD); 

  • facilitate understanding of what those strategic priorities mean for individual practice  

  • incentivise engagement with educational CPD.  

These approaches have led to increased engagement in educational CPD, enhanced student experience and the institutions’ sector standing. 

The case studies plus thematic analysis of the top scoring 25 institutions of 134 blind-reviewed for inclusion in this collection and testimony from educational leaders that have successfully used the PSF for positive change, inform our six evidence-based principles for utilising the PSF for strategic transformation. These are: 

  1. Lead institutional engagement with the PSF. 

  1. Invest in the strategic deployment of the PSF. 

  1. Strategically align Advance HE accredited provision to institutional priorities. 

  1. Raise the profile and esteem of Fellowship. 

  1. Enable everyone involved in learning and teaching to engage with the PSF throughout the academic year and lifecycle. 

  1. Invest in Senior and Principal Fellows. 

Each principle is underpinned by achievable practices that institutions might adopt in the service of strategic transformation. The principles resonated with some institutions who attended the recent Advance HE accredited programme leaders network event, many of whom follow practices similar to those we identify. 

Utilising the Professional-Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning for Strategic Change will be of interest to senior leaders with strategic responsibility for teaching and learning at a HEP and those with responsibility for supporting and developing teaching and learning. Advance HE accredited CPD scheme leads will also find the work inspiring. We hope it speaks to the wide variety of HE providers across the global HE community.  

Advance HE members can download Utilising the Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning for Strategic Change here

Find out more about the Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22: Utilising the Professional Standards Framework for Strategic Change 

Find out more about projects awarded the Collaborative Development Fund 2021-22



Spowart, L, Turner, R, Dismore, H, Beckmann, E, Carkett, R & Khamis, T (2020). Assessing the impact of accreditation on institutions. University of Plymouth. 

The Professional Standards Framework (PSF) is currently going through a sector-led review and the revised framework will be launched on 31 January 2023. Find out more


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