Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching

Glossary of Terms

TSL@USW Glossary of Terms

Advance HE

Advance HE was created by the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), the Higher Education Academy (HEA) and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE). Visit the Advance HE website.


These are a set of statements outlining the key characteristics of someone performing four broad categories of typical teaching and learning support roles within Higher Education. Each Descriptor begins with a general statement addressed to the practitioner, which briefly indicates the level of understanding required for the performance of teaching and learning support role of that type at an appropriate standard within a higher education institution. This is followed by a series of between five and seven further statements which draw on the Dimensions of Practice to identify what someone performing such roles should be able to evidence.

The general statements for Descriptors 1 to 3 are very similar; differing only in the depth and breadth of understanding required with some additional detailed differences in construction. They have a number of key features in common. Descriptor 4 is rather different in character and will be treated separately.

  • Descriptor 1: An Associate of the Academy (AFHEA).
  • Descriptor 2: A Fellow of the Academy (FHEA).
  • Descriptor 3: A Senior Fellow of the Academy (SFHEA).
  • Descriptor 4: A Principal Fellow of the Academy (PFHEA).


The UKPSF identifies the diversity of higher education teaching and support roles and environments; this diversity is reflected and expressed in the Dimensions of the Framework.

The Dimensions of the Framework are outlined in three key sets as follows:

  • Areas of Activity (A) which you undertake when teaching, supporting and facilitating learning in higher education;
  • Core Knowledge (K) which is needed to carry out the areas of activity;
  • Professional Values (V) which you should embrace and demonstrate in your teaching or support of teaching.

Each of these three sets of the Dimensions is subdivided into statements: five Areas of Activity, six aspects of Core Knowledge and four Professional Values. Combined they cover the complexity of professional roles in higher education, be it teaching, learner support or the supervision of research students.

Claim for recognition

When you submit your application for fellowship (whether written or oral) you are claiming that you should be recognised by the HEA as meeting the benchmarks set down in the UKPSF. The HEA recognise your claim by granting you fellowship of the Academy.

HEA (Higher Education Academy)

A British professional institution promoting excellence in higher education. Visit the HEA website.

Fellowship – recognised members of the HEA.

When you are successful in your claim for recognition by the HEA you become a fellow of the academy. There are four categories of fellowship to reflect the different contributions, roles, and career paths within higher education: Associate Fellow, Fellow, Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow. The benchmarks for each of these categories are outlined as Descriptors 1-4 in the UKPSF documentation.


Evidence in the form of a list of the constructive alignment of the UKPSF in your role/professional practice.

TSL – Teaching and Supporting Learning

USW is accredited by the HEA to support, develop and assess claims for fellowship by its staff. From September 2017 our framework for doing this is called TSL@USW and is managed by the CELT team.

USW – University of South Wales

The University of South Wales (USW) is a major player in UK higher education. With campuses in Cardiff, Pontypridd and Newport, the University is renowned for its partnerships with major employers.

UKPSF – UK Professional Standards Framework

The nationally-recognised framework for benchmarking HE teaching and learning support owned by the HEA. It sets out four role descriptors for the categories of fellowship available along with the areas of evidence that must be provided (knowledge, values and activities). Your claim to be recognised as a fellow of the HEA is based on your evidence that you meet the standards set by this framework through your practice, knowledge, beliefs, and continuing professional development related to teaching and learning.

Key words/terms/phrases

  • Effective.
  • Sustained.
  • Currency.
  • Broad.
  • Thorough