Skip to main content

Five years on… reflecting on Fellowships at UQ

19 Feb 2024 | Associate Professor Deanne Gannaway As The University of Queensland (UQ) completes a fifth year of partnership with Advance HE, Deanne Gannaway reflects on the way that UQ has engaged with Fellowship and what this has meant for fellows, students and the University itself.

It seems like just yesterday when I was developing a pitch to lobby senior executive at UQ for funding to support our membership and an accredited pathway to Fellowship. And now we have over 500 fellows currently active in our community: a community that celebrates teaching expertise across different roles, discipline areas and campuses.  

Recognising the day-to-day 

While UQ has always celebrated teaching excellence with a proud history of national teaching award winners, Fellowship has provided us with an opportunity to recognise the day-to-day expertise and contributions of all those who support our students’ learning through our accredited CPD program, HEA@UQ. This recognition has taken the form of applicants supported to develop a written portfolio that is reviewed by trained UQ colleagues before a welcoming celebration at one of our biannual forum events, where we get together as a group to indulge in the pleasure of talking teaching – no mean feat in a research-intensive university! These conversations haven’t been limited to UQ. It’s exciting to see fellows from other Queensland universities and from further afield at many of our events. They come along to talk teaching, to connect and to share. Some of these fellows have come through the UQ program and, despite heading to new pastures, retain their connection to UQ through their Fellowship. This situation has led to all sorts of interesting collaborations and connections, helping to extend conversations across institutions.  

Embedding Fellowship 

Over the last five years, Fellowship has become increasingly embedded at UQ, part of the fabric of how we do things. HEA@UQ day has become an expected day-long feature of our annual teaching and learning festival. Fellowship status has been incorporated into our annual performance and development (ADP) dashboards and conversations and participation recorded in divisional annual reports. Opportunities for Advance HE Fellowship features in onboarding conversations, tutor training and induction sessions.  

Our approach 

At UQ, our approach to teaching recognition to date has been focused on teachers who already have built their expertise over time and practice. As the community has grown over the last five years, we have had a number of people who have raised their hands to share their teaching practice and the knowledge they have developed over the years with other teachers who may just be beginning their teaching practice.  

To support those seeking to develop their practice, we have recently submitted proposed development pathways for accreditation by Advance HE. These pathways draw on the Fellowship community’s experience, expertise and passion for teaching to inspire and build capacity for new teachers and for experienced teachers and learning support staff to develop new capabilities.  

We have also proposed new pathways to recognise the vital contributions of those who support our student’s learning – and our own. In these new pathways, we aim to create safe and welcoming spaces for Indigenous community members, who, as lived experience educators, build our understandings of Indigenous Knowledges, perspectives, experiences and histories and for our student partners, who collaborate with staff to co-create student-centred learning opportunities, resources, curriculum and environments.  

Impact of Fellowship 

We are moving into these exciting new spaces; our Fellowship numbers are growing; and Fellowship is becoming increasingly embedded into the UQ structures and process. Yet a niggling thought at the back of my mind remains. Prompted by a challenge laid down by a member of our senior executive who questioned the impact of Fellowship on student learning, I’ve been actively seeking a direct correlation between the two. It’s proving an elusive task, despite some robust evaluation activities. We are seeing connections between enhanced student experience and Fellowship status, but the direct link between attaining Fellowship through the experiential pathway and improvement for student learning remains unclear.  

Rather than a direct impact on student learning, what I have been observing in the support workshops and activities, is a transformation. I have been witnessing people in different roles with diverse responsibilities, from a range of disciplinary cultures and personal backgrounds coming to an understanding of their identity.  

For those identifying as an Associate Fellow or Fellow, I see them owning the role of university educator. For those identifying as Senior or Principal Fellow, I see a deepening appreciation of what it means to be an educational leader. As participants have been working through the various activities, they have been developing a common language, an awareness of common activities, knowledges and values that underpin their very different experiences, a connectedness that links participants, but also links the actions that they take to the outcomes for their students. That awareness has empowered them to examine their own practices from a new point of view that appears to build self-efficacy and confidence in practice. By interrogating practice, reflecting on how they teach, why they adopt the approaches they do, and how they know them to be effective, I’ve witnessed participants “settle” into the descriptor they determine is the best way to describe their practice. I walked beside those who realise the descriptor they first identified with didn’t “fit”, and that there was another way to describe their practice.  

Once that identity “fits” and feels comfortable, that’s when I see that Fellows take a closer look at their practice. From a place of security, they delve deeper, shining a light on their practices to see whether approaches work the way that think they do, question ways to do things better, communicate ideas and practices using their newly formed common language to learn new and better ways.  

It’s through this work that I have come to consider that perhaps we are looking at this link to student impact the wrong way. Maybe it’s time to understand the identity transformation that occurs through these developmental programs to understand the impact on learning.  


Few of the staff I work with at UQ would have described themselves as a teacher before they engaged with the program. We would regularly hear the terms “lecturer”, “researcher”, “learning designer”, “academic”. Now we hear Fellows at UQ describe themselves as “teacher”. That’s a palpable shift; a shift five years and over 500 fellows in the making.  


Deanne Gannaway is the program director for Fellowship programs and the academic lead for professional learning and recognition programs at UQ. As an accreditor, she regularly reviews Fellowship applications made directly to Advance HE and as an associate of Advance HE, she supports other Australasian institutions build their Fellowship programs. 

Find out more about the Global Fellowships Relay – #FellowshipsRelay2024.

If your institution is interested in building your Fellowship communities, find out about the range of support we have to offer here


We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

Keep up to date - Sign up to Advance HE communications

Our monthly newsletter contains the latest news from Advance HE, updates from around the sector, links to articles sharing knowledge and best practice and information on our services and upcoming events. Don't miss out, sign up to our newsletter now.

Sign up to our enewsletter