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Gaining Fellowship as a Professional Services colleague: Lori Coletti Campbell

Physics and Astronomy’s departmental manager explains how applying for Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) made her ‘more student-centric’.

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21 October 2019

If you support students in a non-teaching role, the UCL Arena pathway for Professional Services offers you the opportunity to gain recognition for your work supporting their learning with a UCL Arena fellowship, accredited by the Higher Education Academy (HEA). 

This is suitable for staff in learning support roles, including:

  • Teaching Administrators
  • Lab Technicians
  • ISD/Digital Education
  • Central services, and;
  • Librarians

Which Arena pathway did you follow and where did you hear about it?

Arena Open – as part of UCL InEDITA and through my colleague, Leigh Kilpert. I attended sessions dedicated to Professional Services at UCL. 

What was your motivation?

Professional accreditation and personal development to help career progression.

What was the most useful element?

Researching and preparing the material for inclusion in the application. It gave me a chance to reflect on the type of work I have done and what I have achieved over the years. 

When I started thinking about it and drilling down into what I had done, I found I had so much relevant experience. It made me realise that I have achieved a lot in my career at UCL and it made me feel proud.

Writing the application 

It is also useful to frame a personal statement if you are thinking of applying for a new job. Rather than outlandish general statements of how great you are it forces you to think: 
what you have done? 
who has it affected? 
what difference has it made that it has made

This new framework provides a great evidence-based approached to a personal statement.

How has it changed your support for teaching?

It has made me more student-centric. 

Focus on students' perspectives 

We develop teaching and learning in response to policies, procedures and governance. We don't engage the student community in what would make things better for them. 

In an increasingly commercialised sector, we need to ensure that we get a better understanding of what a student expects from UCL for:

  • teaching delivery
  • support services
  • career advice
  • development, and;
  • other soft skills. 

Reflecting on my work through the Fellowship application has reminded me to listen to the most important people in this relationship. 

Professor Joe Cain, Head of Department in Science and Technology Studies:

"Our professional services colleagues are as deeply invested in students, programmes,learning, and the joy of discovery academics. It’s a team effort. This application comes from a person who is a brilliant example of this commitment. Hard work, great ideas, striving always to improve. Gold star.”

How do you think your students have benefited from you taking part?

I see things more from their perspective now and can put myself in their place. 

I used to make decisions based on my experience on this side of the fence and assume we knew what was best. This was based on our own experiences and for some of us, this might have been many years ago.

The higher education landscape has changed drastically in the last 10 years and our students have very different demands today. 

Gaining Fellowship has made me realise what tremendous changes we have undergone in the last 20 years and that I need to understand the new challenges faced by our students today. 

As a result, I am more tolerant and sympathetic to their concerns and requirements. 

How much of a commitment was it for you? 

I completed the original application in the late summer of 2018. My first application was referred and I had to re-submit with some amendments, which I did in November 2018.

It is quite a commitment, but it is something that you can put down and pick up. I found myself reflecting quite a bit on it, going away and coming back to it. I would add things and take other things away. 

Mapping the individual activities to the framework was tricky. I also found finding research in support of the work I did was also somewhat difficult. UCL Arena Centre colleagues are always on hand to support and answer any questions. 

What would you say to someone considering working towards a Fellowship? 

It is a challenge! Yet, it also gives you fantastic insight into yourself and your role. It will remind you of all the wonderful things you have contributed throughout your career, whether as an academic or as professional services. 

You have will have probably forgotten about most of the things you have done. 

It will re-ignite your self-belief and allows you to be reflective and self-aware, something that no one of us would have the luxury of doing in our normal daily lives. 

Lori's top tips for applying for Fellowship

  1. You should definitely go for it! 
  2. Start at the bottom and work your way up through the various fellowship levels - each subsequent one builds on from the previous one. I will be continuing on my pathway upward - I'll see you at the top! 
  3. Attend UCL Arena sessions: initial guidance and developing your application.