HEA PF Consultation Event, London, 8 July 2015

The HEA invited around 15 people as a representative sample of the sector to attend a one day exploration of the Principal Fellowship descriptor, and how it could be improved. There are now 365 PFs nationally, sufficient experience for the sector to review how well PF is working. The outcomes of the discussion will be presented to the HEA Executive, to inform future developments.

Issues identified with the PG descriptor included

  • Interpretations of ‘strategic’
  • Questions of scope and sphere of influence expected of PF
  • SF / PF boundaries
  • Unclear criteria for achievement
  • Onerous process
  • Difficulty of benchmarking across sector
  • The value of the achievement (not always valued by senior staff)
  • Questions of what is evidence
  • Hierarchy and PF.

Some of the positives include:

  • Value for individual and institution
  • PF seen as prestigious
  • Raises status of UKPSF
  • Now have a critical mass of PFs
  • PFs acting as role models / enablers in institutions
  • Includes senior leaders in L&T, recognizing diversity of strategic leadership
  • Enables different types of conversation with senior managers
  • Opportunity for EdDev units to provide higher level development
  • Potential: e.g. for high level CoPs.

There was significant discussion of the difficulties of assessing D4 internally within institutions, and some participants felt D4 would be better handled by the HEA.

The afternoon session looked at each of the dimensions of D4 and how they could be improved. This was largely around clarifying meaning, e.g. in D4.5, what does ‘CPD’ mean, and would it be better described as ‘developing self and others’? The most radical recommendation was to lose 4.1, since it is not addressed separately in applications, and overlaps with D4.4. D4.1 could usefully be replaced by an introductory section, e.g. setting out the applicant’s philosophy, strategic approach and context.

The outcomes of these discussions will now be discussed with the HEA Executive and, presumably, will be fed back to the sector in due course.

Roni Bamber | Queen Margaret University | 8 July 2015