My application to become a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy was approved today, and with that comes a shiny new certificate – see below! For those of you who don’t know, in the UK most academics have to either complete a PGCert in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education or apply for professional recognition with the HEA within the first few years of their employment at a university. This is to ensure that we are qualified to teach and are capable and willing to reflect on our teaching practices and the values and ideas underlying them. If you’re currently a PhD student or an early-career researcher in the UK, it’s well worth investigating whether your institution can offer you either a PGCert course or if they will sponsor your application to the HEA. For one, it will save you the trouble completing the process once you’re in a potentially stressful new job. It will also, however, send a very good message in your future academic job applications, as it means you’ve already proven yourself as a higher education teacher and in line with national standards. If you don’t have several years of teaching experience yet, you can apply to become an Associate Fellow of the HEA, something which I’m proud to say my School offers to support our own PhD students with by covering their application fee and ensuring they receive support from our institutional teaching and learning team. While reflection can sometimes seem artificial – especially if it is assessed – I certainly found that my HEA application gave me a valuable opportunity to think about what I’ve achieved in my teaching so far (and by extension on what I can improve in future). It may seem petty to some, but academia doesn’t often recognise our abilities formally (apart from when we receive a degree or get a promotion or a new job), so in some ways at least it’s also nice to have be recognised for your work in the classroom, something which I think often falls by the wayside in the chase for grant income, publications, and other supposedly more prestigious achievements.
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