Good practices, HigherEd, Inclusivity, Leadership

Reflections from my SFHEA fellowship

Today, I finally got my AdvanceHE Senior Fellow certificate in my inbox. It has been a rather long wait, as I had my application in mind since 2017, yes, I have been three years overdue on putting in my application. However, I felt it was for the better, as the additional years of experience secured me my Senior Fellowship in one go. Hurray!

View my certificate here:

The process was easier than I thought. I knew from the start that I wanted to apply directly for an SFHEA, as I had ample experience both within the UK and internationally on the topics that I wanted to present in my application. I actually went to a drop-in session in 2019 but had not quite had time to write the application. However, my participation in the Aurora Women’s Leadership Development Programme (2019) was a big push for me, as I had set 5 goals to achieve by Dec 2020.

Finding a mentor was even easier. James Pearson-Jenkins, Head of Academic Innovation, the very person in charge of AdvanceHE fellowship CPD under the Knowledge, Understanding, Development, Opportunities, and Standing (KUDOS) scheme took me under his wings. During our first meeting in early March, we discussed the case studies that I would use, namely my :

  • 15 years of experience in TNE programmes (including my leadership roles), and
  • 13 years of working experience supporting disabled students.

Since James had reviewed several applications himself and also has experience in training assessors, his suggestions became my SFHEA application bible. Subsequently, with the lockdown, we met virtually, including providing feedback on my application. Most grateful for his invaluable assistance all along.

Putting together my SFHEA application made me put into perspective the large number of projects that I have been working on. It was a joyful experience to realise the difference that I have made in many students’ and staff’s lives. It took me about 5 hours interspersed over two weeks to put my application together and sent it to my mentor, referees and also my Aurora mentor. The most time-consuming part was assembling the proofs for my participation in committees, conferences, panels, and international meetings. Hopefully, quite a lot were already in the public domain. The time taken was rewarded by the appreciation received in the feedback.

The feedback on my application was very encouraging, in particular in recognising my work towards not only disability and inclusivity, but also intersectionality. This means a lot to me, since intersectionality is still a not well-known and not-well understood term. My work on digital projects were also appreciated in particular with L&T moving online.

The panel noted that you have quite a few different threads of your academic practice to draw together in this section, and it was interesting to read of your experiences at different universities, working with diverse groups of students and applying a variety of methods of learning, teaching and assessment. Moreover, it was interesting to read about the range of L&T activities you have been involved in throughout your academic career, in particular your international cooperation …

It is very clear that you are committed to the support of your students both academically and pastorally, and that you provide regular opportunities for them to engage with you – well done.

In relation to case study two, the second reviewer noted that when they started to read case study two, was whether your work and interventions helped other students, in addition to the ones that you were supporting directly. I was glad to see that this was acknowledged later in the case study (e.g. … helping students with dyslexia and students for whom English is not their first language). Your work … elucidates on your approaches to inclusive practice ….

Your CPD Review and Plan evidences your past, present and future development, detailing impact on colleagues’ practice; highly prescient at the moment given … the global pandemic. You provide a very strong, well-structured body of evidence and it is clear from your engagement in numerous projects and working in various roles that you have a breadth of information to share. This is validated by insightful testimonials and supportive references from your chosen referees.

I have just made use of the Fellowship Category Tool, and I am 28% of PFHEA. I would not be surprised though if I am already exceeding this. As a POC foreigner in the UK, I have often undersold myself. So PFHEA in another 5 years!

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