Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

UKPSF Professional Recognition

HEA Professional Recognition - TSL@USW

What is Professional Recognition?AdvancedHE

AdvanceHE (formerly the Higher Education Academy - HEA) awards four different categories of Fellowship, Associate Fellowship (AFHEA), Fellowship (FHEA), Senior Fellowship (SFHEA) and Principal Fellowship (PFHEA).

These four categories reflect the wide range of professional practice carried out by individuals who teach and/or support learning in higher education; from those who have a partial role in teaching/supporting learning through to senior professionals with strategic impact on teaching and learning in an organisational, national and/or international setting.

The four categories of Fellowship are awarded on the basis of evidence of personal professional practice which meets the requirements of one of the four Descriptors of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). The UKPSF has been developed as a standards framework for the higher education sector that sets out the knowledge, skills and behaviours demonstrated by those teaching and/or supporting higher education learning.

The UK Professional Standards Framework:

  • Supports the initial and continuing professional development of staff engaged in teaching and supporting learning;
  • Fosters dynamic approaches to teaching and learning through creativity, innovation and continuous development in diverse academic and/or professional settings;
  • Demonstrates to students and other stakeholders the professionalism that staff and institutions bring to teaching and support for student learning;
  • Acknowledges the variety and quality of teaching, learning and assessment practices that support and underpin student learning;
  • Facilitates individuals and institutions in gaining formal recognition for quality enhanced approaches to teaching and supporting learning, often as part of wider responsibilities that may include research and/or management activities.

Fellowships are awarded on the basis of a successful and effective demonstration of one of the four UKPSF Descriptors. In deciding which category of Fellowship to apply for at this stage in your career, you will need to determine which of the four Descriptors of the UKPSF is most appropriate to your practice and professional experience:


If you are able to provide evidence of effectiveness in relation to your professional role which will typically include at least some teaching and/or learning support responsibilities, by applying for Associate Fellowship you will present an understanding of specific aspects of effective teaching, learning support methods and student learning.


If you are able to provide evidence of broadly based effectiveness in more substantive teaching and supporting learning roles and can demonstrate a broad understanding of effective approaches to learning and teaching support as a key contribution to high quality student learning.


If you can demonstrate a thorough understanding of effective approaches to teaching and learning support as a key contribution to high quality student learning. You may be an experienced member of staff able to demonstrate impact and influence on other colleagues through, for example, responsibility for leading, managing or organising programmes, subjects and/or disciplinary areas.


If you can demonstrate a sustained record of effective strategic leadership in academic practice and development and you are highly experienced with wide-ranging strategic leadership responsibilities in connection with key aspects of teaching and supporting learning.

The descriptors do not indicate a hierarchy, they are simply categories of Fellowship that reflect the multiple roles and experiences achieved by those teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

The HE Academy has accredited USW to confer recognition for Associate Fellow, Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy against the UKPSF.

For information on Workshops for specific Fellowship categories, please visit the CELT HEA Workshops page.