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Principal Fellowship

Fellowship demonstrates a personal and institutional commitment to professionalism in learning and teaching in higher education.

The Professional Standards Framework (PSF) 2023 and Principal Fellowship

Principal Fellowship is awarded to professionals who demonstrate they meet the criteria of Descriptor 4 of the Professional Standards Framework (PSF) for teaching and supporting learning in higher education.

Principal Fellowship is suitable for highly experienced individuals whose practice involves a sustained record of effectiveness in strategic leadership of high-quality learning. Their impact is extensive. Individuals are able to evidence that their practice meets the following three Descriptor 4 criteria statements:   

  • D4.1: Sustained and effective strategic leadership of higher education practice, with extensive impact on high-quality learning: within or beyond an institution, or across a discipline or profession
  • D4.2: Development and implementation of effective and inclusive: strategies, or policies, or procedures, or initiatives, to enhance practice and outcomes for learners 
  • D4.3: Active commitment to, and integration of, all Dimensions in the strategic leadership of academic or professional practices 

Principal Fellows can demonstrate how they provided vision and direction, and transformed practice and outcomes. They are able to show evidence that their strategic leadership has had a sustained record of effectiveness and positive impact over a period of five to seven years. Their practice will have made a positive and lasting change at a strategic level on high-quality learning. 

Professional Standards Framework 2023

Find out more about the revised framework that emphasises effectiveness and impact, inclusion and context, as fundamental aspects of practice.

Find out more

Are you considering applying for Principal Fellowship?

From 1 January 2024, only applications made against PSF 2023, using the correct PSF 2023 templates will be accepted. Your application MUST NOT reference aspects of UKPSF 2011 such as Core Knowledge K6. Any such references will result in your application being returned. Application documents for PSF 2023 are available here: PSF 2023. 

Explore application FAQs
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Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) brings you a range of benefits:

  • Consolidating your personal development and evidence of your strategic influence in your higher education career;
  • Demonstrating your commitment to teaching, learning and the student experience, through engagement in a practical process that encourages research, reflection and development;
  • Principal Fellowship is increasingly sought by employers across the education sector as a criterion of appointment and promotion for strategic management and leadership positions;
  • For individuals, to identify their expertise with the entitlement to use post-nominal letters – PFHEA;
  • Recognised and valued by a growing number of international institutions.
Supporting Senior Fellow applicants through Writing Retreats
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Is Principal Fellowship for you?

Principal Fellowship is not role dependent. Within your context, you will need to explore whether you have the extensive evidence of impact on high quality learning, at a strategic level, that is the basis for a successful application. For Principal Fellowship you need to be able to: 

  • demonstrate a sustained record of effectiveness in strategic leadership of high quality learning; and 
  • show that your leadership has had extensive impact.  

Principal Fellows are a diverse community representing the full range of strategic leadership in higher education. For example, you may work in academic departments, professional or service departments, on senior or executive leadership teams, for a professional body, as independent consultants, or in other roles with impact on learning and teaching in Higher Education. 

In order to evidence the ‘sustained’ and ‘effective’ nature of your work you need to explain the rationale and process of your work and evidence the impact resulting from it over a period of five to seven years. 

We recommend that prior to starting your application you use our free online Fellowship Category Tool.

If you feel that you are working within this category download your Principal Fellow guidance pack to find out more about how to apply.

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Fellowship Category Tool

Our Fellowship Category Tool has been designed to help you understand which category of Fellowship most closely reflects your current practice and to reflect on your ongoing professional development and career aspirations.

After you have answered a series of choice questions, which will take around 10-20 minutes, you will be shown your results and a PDF report summarising your responses will be sent to you.

Use the Fellowship Category Tool
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The Professional Standards Framework 2023 (PSF 2023)

The Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education (PSF) has global recognition for raising the profile of teaching and learning in higher education. The PSF’s contribution to reward and recognition is unsurpassed, being used by individuals, institutions and national bodies. 

The PSF 2023 is an inclusive Framework that recognises the critical role of the context in which practice takes place and is more accessible to all professionals with a role in teaching and supporting learning. 

Find out more about PSF 2023 and the review
PSF 2022-23 cover image
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Applying and application fees

There are various application routes for Fellowship, they are made in writing and need to be supported by written references. Find out more about the available application routes.

Application fees vary depending on the route you take to Fellowship, with individuals from subscribing institutions benefiting from discounted fees.

    Routes to Fellowship        Fees   
 Accredited Provision (individual from a member institution)     No cost  
 Accredited Provision (individual from a non-member institution)     £550  
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from a member institution)     £550  
Direct application to Advance HE (individual from non-member institution)     £1100
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Do you want to support your staff to achieve Fellowship?

Advance HE offers Fellowship support to institutions through a structured process:

  • Fellowship workshops - sessions helping your staff understand Fellowship and the application process
  • Fellowship Writing Retreats - expert support providing a structured and guided environment in which to construct an application for Fellowship
  • draft Fellowship applications reviews - a consultant will review applications and provide annotated feedback, including points for further development.

All of these services can be delivered online.

Find out more
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Principal Fellowship Support Programme

We have developed specialist virtual programmes to support individuals as part of a cohort to achieve Principal Fellowship. The programmes will provide guidance, dedicated writing sessions, review of a draft PSF 2023 application with one-to-one feedback, before direct submission to Advance HE. These programmes, led by an experienced PSF 2023 Consultant, will support individuals to develop an application for Principal Fellowship in a structured way over 12 weeks, as part of a cohort, and will be of particular interest to those institutions that currently don’t have accredited provision for this category.

Find out more
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Principal Fellow Record of Strategic Educational Impact Support Session (PFRSEI)

These support sessions are aimed at colleagues who are in the process of completing their direct Principal Fellow application (Descriptor 4 of the PSF). A strong RSEI is the foundation of a successful application. This session supports participants to identify their strongest examples of strategic leadership, and to structure their application. Participants will be asked to complete a template on which to collate their strategic interventions and will receive constructive feedback in a one-to-one session with an experienced Advance HE reviewer to help them progress their Principal Fellow applications.

Interested participants should book their place via the My Advance HE customer portal to receive a directed template to complete. They will then be contacted directly to arrange a convenient time for their virtual one-to-one session with the reviewer.

Register your interest
PFREI quote
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Meet some of our Principal Fellows

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Katrine Wong

University of Macau (UM)
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Dr Gwen Moore

Mary Immaculate College (MIC), Limerick
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