Nationally recognised professional recognition for staff in Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education is

a process by which individuals can be awarded one of four categories of Fellowship of the HEA in acknowledgement that their practice evidences successful engagement with the dimensions of the UKPSF‘ (Higher Education Academy)

The UKPSF is at the heart of professional recognition, and outlines the key characteristics of someone performing four broad categories of typical teaching and learning support roles within Higher Education:

  • Associate Fellow of the HEA (AFHEA or D1)
  • Fellow of the HEA (FHEA or D2)
  • Senior Fellow of the HEA (SFHEA or D3)
  • Principal Fellow of the HEA (PFHEA of D4)

The choice of Descriptor is not simply about how long someone has been working in Higher Education.  The four categories of Fellowship each reflect the different position, influence and impact that an individual has in their role and their ability to meet the criteria laid out in the UKPSF.

C@N-DO is aligned to the UKPSF and you can apply through C@N-DO for HEA Fellowship at AFHEA, FHEA or SFHEA. 

(Applications for Principal Fellow (D4) should be made directly to the HEA.)

Professional recognition is valuable to individuals because it offers:

  • national recognition of your commitment to professionalism in teaching and learning associated with higher education
  • demonstration that your practice is aligned with the UKPSF
  • an indicator of professional identity for higher education practitioners, including the entitlement to use post-nominal letters
  • a portable asset, that has UK-wide relevance and which is increasingly recognized by higher and further education institutions nationally and internationally

To gain professional recognition individuals must provide evidence of successful engagement with the Dimensions of Practice outlined in the UKPSF and demonstrate that they meet the requirements of the assessment criteria for the relevant Descriptor within their own Learning and Teaching practice.

There are three sets of ‘Dimensions’:

  • Areas of Activity – the things you do in your professional work in teaching and supporting learning
  • Core Knowledge – the knowledge and understanding you use and apply in carrying out those areas of activity
  • Professional Values – the values you hold which underpin the way you carry out those areas of activity.

UKPSF diagram


For information on gaining HEA Fellowship at the University of Northampton, visit ‘How can I become an HEA Fellow