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Impact of fellowship for technical services staff at Manchester Metropolitan University

31 May 2024 | Natalie Kennerley Natalie Kennerley, Technical Services Development Manager at Manchester Metropolitan University, explains how fellowship is central to supporting technical services staff.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) has a dedicated team of University Teaching Academy (UTA) staff which supports all staff with their Advance HE fellowship accreditation. Achieving accreditation is standard practice for the academic community but is less well known amongst the technical community and Professional Services. 

Changing the perception of fellowship 

Over the previous five years, Technical Services has worked to change the perception that fellowship is for academics only. Our technical teams comprise of approximately 200 staff who work across a diverse range of disciplines providing a range of teaching support, including large and small group teaching, developing online learning resources, technical demonstrations and assessments and individual tutorial support. They are key to the delivery of the University's strategic ambitions.  

Technical Services has worked closely with the National Technician Development Centre and technical colleagues from the University of Newcastle to demystify the Professional Standards Framework language and make this more technician friendly and accessible to our staff. 


We hold regular technician-only accreditation workshops which are designed by the UTA and Technical Services and which are typically aimed at technical staff achieving Associate Fellow or Fellow status. The workshops consist of a ¾ day of face-to-face practical support as well as follow-up support with the aim of the cohort submitting applications by a set deadline.  


To date, approximately 20% of Technical Services staff have achieved accreditation with an additional 5% currently in progress. Through our Technical Services approach, other departments (Careers & Employability and Academic Liaison Librarians) within Professional Services have mirrored our cohort approach with almost all of their staff now gaining fellowship.  

Positive engagement with Advance HE accreditation has highlighted how fellowship can support individual career development as well as University strategic goals. Over the past three academic years, roughly 55% of fellowships via the recognition route have come from Professional Services staff with teaching and learning responsibilities. 

Advance HE fellowship accreditation has been a great enabler of reflective teaching practice, allowing our technical staff the space to reflect and adapt their professional practice to our student’s needs. It has provided recognition and visibility for the valuable work technical staff do in supporting our students. Growth of fellowships spread across Professional Services and Academic colleagues are cited in the TEF narrative as good practice. 

Technical Services Conference 

Each year, Technical Services holds a one-day conference on campus which is themed to one of the University’s key strategic goals. The conference is a place for our staff to come together to engage in keynote presentations as well as a number of interactive workshop sessions designed to support and enhance technical practice. The conference also provides an opportunity for technicians to submit applications to our technical awards categories: 

  • Teaching Support 
  • Research Support 
  • Excellence in Leadership & Management 
  • Sustainability 
  • Project 
  • Service Excellence 
  • Lifetime Achievement 
  • Newcomer  

Our awards are a chance to celebrate success and provide recognition for the valuable work of our technical staff in contributing to the University ambitions.  

Here, members of the Technical Services teams at Manchester Met University explain how applying for Associate Fellowship or Fellowship has supported their career ambitions, allowed time for reflection, supported student engagement and how they have encouraged others to apply for Fellowship, having seen the benefits of accreditation on the student experience.  


Lucy is a Psychology Programme Support Tutor following a secondment from her role in Technical Services. Previously, Lucy worked as a Technical Officer in Educational Psychology whilst also supporting Maths and Computing in the faculty of Health & Education.  

Supporting my career path  

When the opportunity to apply for Fellowship arose, I knew that the experience I had already would support my application.  

I did a secondment as a Psychology Programme Support Tutor and have since been offered a permanent position in the team. I would like to teach long term and the secondment enabled me to gather more experience to align with this goal.  

When I applied to do my secondment, one of the desirable qualities on the application was a HE accreditation or a teaching qualification. Seeing this really validated my initial thoughts on applying for Fellowship and it has helped me on the next stage of my career journey.  

Ensure you apply for the right level accreditation for you. I applied for Fellow as I was advised by academic members of staff that I would be able to provide the right amount of evidence of this level, based on the teaching experience I already had.  

Finding time  

Make sure you manage your time well in terms of completing the application.  

It was a lengthy process but the benefits of Fellowship have made the process certainly worth it. Try and do as much of the application as you can when you have a long period of time free. I took advantage of some free time alongside my work as a technician. 

Put yourself out there  

I would encourage other technicians to put themselves out there for any opportunities that arise to teach. Even if it doesn’t seem like a lot of teaching at the time, every bit of experience counts. I initially did six hours of teaching in one semester and provided 1:1 student support and feedback on students’ work in semester two. This helped to not only get some teaching experience but also to get experience of evaluating students’ work and providing feedback.  

By taking any similar opportunities when you can, you will build up examples to strengthen your application and be able to refer to them when completing it.  

Lucy, Manchester Metropolitan University


Leighton is Technical Manager of Digital Art. He joined the University in 2012, initially in a filmmaking role and has since vastly increased the delivery of the skills programme covering editing software, lighting, cameras and more.  

Skills programme development  

Upon joining Manchester Met I set about enhancing the existing skills induction and creating workshop packs that are now called Skill Sessions. As the team grew, more accessible and advanced modules were created. When I became more senior in the team I was responsible for hiring new team members and instructing them to create modules based on one piece of kit or one element of study. This was so that students had all the necessary skills, achieving the outcomes of their course and gaining employability skills. The development of the Skills Sessions was useful to reflect on when writing my Advance HE application.  

After achieving Fellowship, I learned that there were different ways to do things and completely revamped the Skills Sessions using the Fellowship pathway and adapting it to learners. We now deliver the skills sessions in person and can give feedback straight away. At present we have over 140 specialised Skill Sessions available and as a team we run over 1,400 Technical Skill Sessions on average every year.  

Technicians do feed back 

I went to a session for more information on Advance HE accreditation and discovered that I could apply for Fellowship as I demonstrated all five of the criteria.  

Providing feedback to students is often seen as one of the criteria that technicians feel they cannot demonstrate. However, we do have a feedback mechanism through the skills programme. We can see how students are using equipment and can feed back to them directly any suggestions for improvement. Students also come to technicians with ideas, and technicians support them with options and guide them towards the next steps. 

Since achieving Fellowship, I have promoted it to others in the team as they all contribute to technical teaching. They show students how they can gain various skills and make learning accessible, contributing to students becoming better filmmakers, better artists, better game designers. 65% of the team are now Fellows or Associate Fellows.  

My next stepping-stone is to apply for Senior Fellowship and ‘train the trainer’ when it comes to skill sessions.  

Keep a record  

If you are a new technician, or new in higher education and are starting your Fellowship application, I would advise that you keep a record of teaching or any sessions you have delivered to students, so you have this to hand when completing your application.  

The process should also help you think differently about how you deliver teaching – there is not one way to teach. Don’t be afraid to approach the paperwork, if you have teaching experience you will be able to fulfil the criteria.   

Fellowship is a great achievement and opens up clear progressions in your career. I have spoken about Advance HE accreditation to other technical services staff from across the country, and it is positive to see that a lot of technicians have started to think about applying.   

Leighton, Manchester Metropolitan University

Associate Fellow

Marie, Technical Manager of the Fashion workshops at Manchester Metropolitan University, has 20 years' experience of working in the fashion industry. The team supports undergraduate and postgraduate students on fashion courses. 

Tell your story  

It’s good to continue learning and getting qualifications in your career. If your role involves you working frontline with students, then I would encourage other technicians to apply for Advance HE accreditation. It’s a great thing to be accredited for, as it gives recognition for something that is already part of your job. The support I had when applying for accreditation helped me tell my story and shape it along the way. Despite not being in a student facing role now, the accreditation has helped me evaluate the teaching elements of my previous role and work with the rest of my team to improve the teaching and resources we provide to students.  

The right support  

I had been considering applying for Associate Fellowship and had put the accreditation in my 2022 Personal Development Review. Colleagues around me had already been accredited so I felt encouraged to apply. Despite not being as student facing as I used to be since starting my Technical Manager role, I can still direct how we deliver our skills training to students, understand why we do things a certain way, and consider new ways of working with students.  

When completing the application, I had the right support from colleagues to complete it and broke it down into manageable chunks to progress in my spare time. I also encourage other team members to go for fellowship as it aligns with the University’s education strategy and benefits the team as well as student outcomes.   

Marie, Manchester Metropolitan University

Associate Fellow

Lisa studied Graphic Design in Germany before moving to Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2012 to do her Masters where she frequented the bookbinding area. She is now an Assistant Technical Officer in the Bookbinding technical team. 

Continuous Professional Development  

As part of my Continuous Professional Development, I have an interest in teaching in my technician role and wanted to get an accreditation to evidence the teaching experience I have as a technician. Fellowship also recognises the work we do as technicians which was another positive to applying.  

Completing the application has not only meant I am now accredited, but during the process I was able to see any gaps in what I had done so far and therefore identify opportunities for training. 

Developing students' employability skills  

RISE is an extra-curricular programme for students to take part in additional projects or gain additional skills. My Associate Fellowship has supported the delivery of some RISE projects with other colleagues, furthering my practical teaching experience.  

Delivering a RISE project was a useful addition to my application because it gave me the opportunity to provide examples of when I had given students feedback on their work and using equipment.  

Applying for Associate Fellowship made me realise the extent to which teaching is prevalent in our role as technicians and motivated me to recognise this and pursue other teaching opportunities.  

Buddy up  

I think it’s good to have a buddy who has already gone through the application process, not necessarily from the same area or department as you. It’s also beneficial to keep a record of all the training you do, projects you help with and sessions you organise to make it easier to collate the evidence in your application.   

Take your time and be open with your manager about setting aside time to work on the application. It’s a valuable accreditation to have and once completed, make sure you celebrate having gone through this process and the recognition you achieve.  

Lisa, Manchester Metropolitan University

Associate Fellow

Gary is a Technical Specialist in Print City at Manchester Metropolitan University. He has worked in in the 3D Printing industry for five years and in higher education for five years, specialising in digital and additive manufacturing.  

Recognising your work  

Accreditation demonstrates a commitment to teaching excellence. By providing evidence for my application, I felt it added legitimacy to my role. Having Associate Fellow next to my name is certainly something to be proud of.  

Improving student engagement  

Applying for Associate Fellowship prompted me to reflect on how I've taught and interacted with students in my technical services role. Part of my role has involved direct student engagement, and I recognise the importance of a technician's role in their education.  

Support from Advance HE 

I attended a workshop on Advance HE accreditation where applying for fellowship was discussed. I found the workshop engaging, which encouraged me to pursue the application.  

As part of the application process, I delved into various teaching theories. It was fascinating to grasp the underlying principles of natural teaching methods and realise that there's a theory behind every aspect of teaching. Nowadays, when I'm instructing, I often refer to this theory and integrate more of that framework into my teaching. Without pursuing Associate Fellowship, I might not have come across this knowledge.  

Beyond acknowledging the teaching I engage in within my role, Associate Fellowship has notably enhanced the way I approach teaching delivery and my thought processes when preparing for lessons.  

My advice  

If you're a technician considering applying for fellowship, I recommend collecting positive feedback from academics. Create a folder in your emails or files to keep track. Additionally, identify an academic who has observed your teaching and whom you can approach for a supporting statement for your application.  

In general, I highly encourage you to actively participate, seek support and attend any sessions that can assist you in initiating your application process. Personally, I've found it to be an incredibly valuable experience.  

Gary, Manchester Metropolitan University

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


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