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Revised ‘Professional Standards Framework for teaching and supporting learning in higher education 2023’ launched today

31 Jan 2023 | Advance HE ‘Effective, impactful, inclusive and contextualised teaching and learning’ – extensive consultation enhances the Professional Standards Framework

Following a sector-led review of the Professional Standards Framework (PSF), Advance HE is delighted to launch the 2023 version on behalf of the sector.

The PSF, which was last revised in 2011, is a framework used in many parts of the world to support and recognise staff development and benchmark success in teaching and learning in higher education.

PSF 2023 is the outcome of a sector-wide consultation with over 800 academics and higher education professionals from more than 20 countries.

Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, said, “The Professional Standards Framework is widely used to develop the skills and attributes of those who teach or support teaching in higher education so that students can benefit from good practice and an excellent academic experience.

“This sector-led and evidenced-based review of the PSF, to which we committed in our 2021-24 Strategy, builds on the strengths of the current PSF  while placing much more overt emphasis on the effectiveness and impact of teaching; the context in which the teaching takes place; and inclusivity – both from the perspective of those staff who are now able to engage with the PSF, and in how more inclusive approaches to teaching are now embedded in the PSF to accommodate better the needs and outcomes for all students.

“I’m confident that these factors, along with a deeper and wider emphasis on digital, professional values, student support and guidance and collaboration, will ensure the PSF is fit-for-the-future and remains relevant and compelling wherever higher education teaching and learning are delivered.

“I am grateful to the many people from around the world who contributed to this review, with particular thanks to the project team and the Steering Group, so ably led by Professor Helen O’Sullivan.”

Key components of the PSF are the ‘Dimensions’ and Descriptors’ which capture the PSF’s expectations of those engaged in teaching or supporting teaching: those with experience across some dimensions of teaching and learning (Descriptor 1); those with greater experience across all dimensions (Descriptor 2); those who lead or influence those who teach (Descriptor 3); and those “highly experienced individuals whose practice involves a sustained record of effectiveness in strategic leadership of high- quality learning (Descriptor 4).” The report shows the detail (appendix 1) of the changes to the ‘Dimensions’ and Descriptors’ in the PSF through the phases of consultation, from the 2011 version to their final iteration in 2023.

Effective and inclusive practice is particularly emphasised in Descriptors 1-3; while evidence of extensive impact is a key component for Descriptor 4.

Professor Helen O’Sullivan, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Chester and chair of the PSF steering group, said, “I am confident that we achieved our aim of being data-led and evidence-based. The comprehensive and repeated consultation and co-creation with a broad range of representatives achieved our ambition to be ‘by the sector, for the sector’.

“The revised Framework gives a range of benefits including greater inclusion for the PSF global community; enhanced relevance through greater emphasis of context in practice, and greater emphasis on effectiveness of practice and better outcomes for students. The Framework has always been an influential part of an institution’s approach to leadership and professional development and there is now the opportunity for more explicit support for institutions’ learning and teaching strategies.”

Professor Abby Cathcart, Director of Student Success and the QUT (Queensland University of Technology) Academy of Learning and Teaching, said, “The PSF is widely used in Australia and New Zealand. The revised PSF 2023 will help in the work to build ever-improving approaches to teaching and learning, whether in strategic initiatives or in the practice of those who directly teach or support student learning.” 

Professor Wichit Srisa-an, Chairman of Suranaree University of Technology Council and former Minister of Education in Thailand, said, “The PSF has had a considerable impact in Thailand. As well as offering the opportunity to reflect and enhance practice, the importance of leadership in teaching is key. I am delighted that PSF 23 has given more emphasis on evidencing a sustained record of effectiveness in strategic leadership of high-quality learning. I believe this will strengthen and sustain the impact of PSF 23 now and in future.”

Professor Ghassan Aouad, Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University, said, “I welcome PSF 23. The PSF has had a considerable impact in our University and in many in the region. It has offered the opportunity for staff at all levels of experience to reflect on and enhance their teaching practice. It’s welcome that this same commitment to continuous professional development is applied to the Framework itself – enhancing it for effectiveness and impact among the other areas which this evidence-based review has so ably identified.”

At the formal launch today a global audience of over 1,200 colleagues has booked onto the virtual event with a line-up of expert speakers from the UK and Australasia. Chaired by Professor O’Sullivan, the event will showcase the importance of the key changes to the PSF and what they will enable.

PSF 2023 and the full report detailing the key features of PSF 2023 are here.

The report also describes the three phases of the sector consultation which took place from 2021-2023.


The PSF underpins Fellowship, the internationally recognised mark of professional success for those who teach and support learning in higher education. More than 166,000 people are now recognised as Fellows, with 14,500 situated outside of the UK. The Fellowship status of these individuals is not affected by the revised PSF.

Following the launch of PSF 2023 today, new applicant Fellowship guidance will be available on Advance HE’s website from 1 March 2023 and applications in this new format will open from Monday 3 April 2023 (12.00 BST).

Institutions with accredited programmes aligned to the PSF may wish to note that a transition period of two years will be in place to support institutions to make any changes in a structured, planned way and at a pace to suit them. Updates will be available here.


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