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Embedding excellence into UCL teaching and learning

18 March 2019

Increasing number of staff achieving accreditation for their teaching, thanks to UCL Arena.

Two people talking while looking at a sheet of paper

290 UCL staff were awarded Fellowships in 2017-18 and over 3,600 staff attended professional development events at the UCL Arena Centre.

These figures come from the Arena’s annual report to Advance HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy), the accreditation body for the Arena Programme, UCL’s professional development programme for staff who teach or support teaching.

Although the proportion of UCL staff holding fellowship is lower than the sector,

  • the rate of increase remains sustained against a rate fall across the sector and Russell group universities, and;
  • the volume of fellowships is above sector average. 

Covering the 2017-2018 academic year, highlights of the report include:

  • Celebrating UCL’s 1,000th Fellow: Anil Doshi
  • A 92% first-time success rate for applicants to AFHEA (Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy).
  • For FHEA (Fellow of the Higher Education Academy) the first-time success rate was 83.1%, rising to 97% for those who took part in the Area Two pathway.
  • A new ‘Senior Fellow Pathway’ launched, resulting in a doubled success rate for applications.

For full details on all Fellowships and Arena pathways, see below.

Embedding educational excellence into UCL culture

A large factor of the success is the way educational excellence continues to be embedded in the culture at UCL. 

UCL has placed research-based education at the heart of its 2034 strategy, working with the strengths and passions of our staff to create high quality education and experience for our students. 

Fellowships are now part of the UCL Academic Careers Framework and UCL academic promotion criteria reflect the high priority of institutional goals for the enhancement of education and the student experience at UCL:

  • Arena Two attendance and obtaining FHEA are probationary requirements for new teaching staff.
  • Higher level HEA fellowships are encouraged as part of the portfolio of evidence required for promotion. The appropriate HEA Fellowship is listed as an indicator of educational impact when making a case for promotion and this has generated interest in gaining Fellowships among categories of staff who were previously less likely to engage with developing teaching and the support of learning.
  • The importance attached to teaching is evident in the creation of a new Grade 10 role, Professorial Teaching Fellow: six members of Teaching Fellow staff were promoted to professor on the basis of their excellence and leadership in education.

This appears to be prompting more mid-career and senior staff to work towards obtaining SFHEA (Senior Fellow) and PFHEA (Principal Fellow), with increased attendance of these colleagues at Arena events. 

Success levels for Fellowships awarded at UCL (2017-18)

Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)

Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA)

  • Fellowships awarded: 45, more than double the previous year, indicating our increased commitment to supporting staff beyond early career.  
  • First-time success rate: 79.6%
  • In 2017/18 we ran our ‘Senior Fellow Pathway’ support for the first time, complementing Arena Open support for SFHEA. 

Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA)

  • Fellowships awarded: six - well above the sector average.
  • First-time success rate: 75%
  • PFHEA applicants are provided with both individual and cohort support.

Research supervisors: new professional development

In 2017/18 we developed mandatory online CPD for all new PhD supervisors. 

Beta testing in the summer of 2018 was positive and the CPD has been rolled out in the 2018/19 academic year to complement our current face-to-face sessions. 

Research supervisors are encouraged to relate their experiences to the dimensions of the Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).

We continue to monitor progress, success rates and feedback from staff on the various pathways available to continually develop the support offered to increased success rates.

Who is Advance HE?

Advance HE was formed in March 2018 following the merger of:

  • the Equality Challenge Unit;
  • the Higher Education Academy; and
  • the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.

Find out more about what they do on their website.