Following these brief overview of the nature of the Fellowship scheme run by the Higher Education Academy (AdvanceHE) there is a PDF (printable to A2) which outlines both the UKPSF and the category descriptors of Fellowship. For the official view see https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/individuals/fellowship
Professional recognition at one of four categories of Fellowship, as capable academic practitioners, has been largely delegated to tertiary institutions through accredited programmes, either in the form of taught postgraduate awards (PGCerts usually) or internal Continuing Professional Development (CPD) schemes. Let's be honest these schemes vary in their...'robustness'. They are all intended to enable practitioners to evidence their engagement with the UKPSF (United Kingdom Professional Standards Framework) and they are accreditated against that standard. As the Framework starts to be adopted outside of the UK it is more often now being referred to as the PSF. For non-UK based institutions engaging with the PSF there is support available too on the HEA website:
What can be a little confusing for some is the interpretation of the descriptors associated with each of the four categories of Fellowship. The video above is an attempt to clarify, as does the poster below, the difference between thinking of the Fellowship as categories of roles, rather than as 'levels'. Levels imply that continuing to be a competent, even excellent, practitioner that one can gradually climb up the 'levels from Associate through to Principal Fellow. It is clearer I think when explaining Fellowships to new (or indeed experienced) academics to think about the nature of each fellowship category, its focus and purpose.
The way I do this is to discuss with applicants (and those responsible for drafting institutional schemes) alternative naming conventions for each category. So that Associates denotes a Teaching Fellowship, Principal a Strategic Fellowship and so on. See the table below for my interpretation.
|Official and Postnominal||Alternative||Focus of Category|
|Associate Fellow AFHEA||Teaching Fellow||Supporting Students learning|
|Fellow FHEA||Academic Fellow||The breadth of academic practice|
|Senior SFHEA||Leadership Fellow||Academic leadership in learning and teaching within discipline across department, faculties or institutions, or of enhancement themes outside of narrow disciplinary boundaries|
|Principal Fellow PFHEA||Strategic Fellow||Strategic leadership of learning and teaching within department or faculty, or development of institutional enhancement agendas normally with reference to external actors.|
Clearly, this does not prevent any individual from perceiving their impact in a way that assessors may not. They might believe their impact to be much greater, or less than it actually is. They may focus on the internal impact and neglect significant external impact. They may have a different notion of what represents a strategic impact in learning and teaching. However, I suggest that exploring the terminology is a useful way to support people rather than to assume that individuals understand the difference between categories.
Below is a PDF (3.2MB) which can be printed as an A2 sized poster for reference. Click on the image.