Professional recognition scheme turns two

THE Professional Recognition in Student Education (PRiSE) scheme at the University of Leeds will celebrate its two-year anniversary in September. Rebecca O’Loughlin, who’s led the scheme from its inception, writes here about the journey so far, the achievements and what the future holds.

This feels like a good time to take stock. But first, I wonder if it is safe to assume that everyone reading this knows what PRiSE is.

Probably not. Well, not yet, anyway.


PRiSE is the University’s scheme for supporting colleagues to achieve professional recognition of their effective practice in student education.

The scheme is run by Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL) and accredited by Advance HE.

SCHEME leader: Rebecca O’Loughlin, who has led the PRiSE programme from the beginning.

Since September 2017, the PRiSE scheme has supported 241 colleagues to achieve Fellowship of the HEA.

Its predecessor scheme, The UKPSF@Leeds, saw 207 Fellowships awarded over four years.

Workshops to support the PRiSE application process have been extremely popular, and at times, even oversubscribed.

The demand for PRiSE mentors – colleagues working around the institution who support participants by providing feedback on draft applications – is outstripping supply.

What might account for this surge of interest?

Celebrating good practice

As mentors and reviewers, or assessors, on the PRiSE scheme will tell you, there is a huge amount of good, often inspirational, practice in student education across our University.

SCHEME leader: Rebecca O’Loughlin, who has led the PRiSE programme since its inception.

The purpose of PRiSE is to bring this to light, and to give it the recognition and reward it deserves.

Individuals engaging with the scheme want to celebrate their achievements in student education, and PRiSE is the University’s way of demonstrating the value it places on these achievements.

We ensure that the scheme works for individuals, regardless of where they are based across the University.


We pride ourselves on the fact that PRiSE is an inclusive scheme which invites all staff and PGRs who teach and/or support learning to engage with professional recognition.

Participants who engage with the scheme are interested in personal and professional development as well as recognition.

Through PRiSE support sessions, including briefings, workshops, and peer mentoring sessions, and in the very process of writing their application, participants are encouraged to reflect on their teaching approach.

And, how they might enhance their practice and that of their colleagues.

In working with other participants, they are exposed to new ways of teaching and supporting learning, and many have made changes to their own pedagogical approaches as a result.

Professional benefits

This celebration and development of practice goes hand in hand with enhanced employment and promotion prospects.

Fellowship of the HEA is a portable asset, that has global relevance and is increasingly recognised and required by HE and FE institutions.

Adverts for jobs in higher education now commonly list Fellowship of the HEA as an essential or desirable criterion.


Finally, it is clear that one of the most significant reasons for the popularity of PRiSE is context.

The landscape in which the scheme operates has changed.

The most obvious manifestation of this is the Teaching Excellence Framework, which has refocused the attention of universities and encouraged reflection on how best to evidence teaching excellence.

Though not a TEF metric, having a large and lively community of HEA Fellows can greatly enhance a TEF submission, as it demonstrates institutional commitment to supporting professional development and recognition for teaching practice.


It would probably be helpful to say a little more about the categories of Fellowship.

PRiSE supports colleagues to apply for Associate Fellowship, Fellowship and Senior Fellowship of the HEA.

There is a fourth category, Principal Fellowship, and if you decide this is the right category for you, we can help you to make a direct application to Advance HE.

So, what’s the difference between the categories?

Associate Fellowship is for colleagues who have limited experience of teaching and/or supporting learning, and for whom teaching is a secondary part of their role.

Fellowship is for more experienced teachers, for whom teaching is usually a substantive part of their role.

The inclusivity of the PRiSE scheme means that colleagues in both the Schools and Services can get involved.

Jo-Ann Lyons, Teaching Fellow, Mathematics and Statistics, Lifelong Learning Centre, Fellow 2018, said:

Gaining Fellowship gave me space to reflect thoroughly on my practice and align what I was already doing with current pedagogic research, which was reassuring.

Senior Fellowship is for individuals who wish to gain recognition of their coordination, support and mentoring of colleagues in relation to student education.

Principal Fellowship is for colleagues who strategically influence the direction of student education within, and sometimes beyond, the University.

We have a number of Principal Fellows at Leeds, including Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Student Education, Professor Tom Ward, who said:

I became a Principal Fellow of the HEA in 2013, and found the process useful for several reasons.

One was taking a moment to pause and reflect on what the education part of my role really meant, and to acknowledge the many great colleagues I work with.

Another was the opportunity to celebrate education in a visible way, and to support the idea of learning through reflective practice.

PRiSE does an excellent job supporting colleagues to become Fellows, and I’d encourage everyone to look into this way to develop their own practice as educators.


At the moment, our proportion of Fellows is higher than the Russell Group average but lower than the sector average.

The Russell Group, however, is not the benchmark we choose to measure ourselves against.

Our ambition is to close the gap between the proportion of Leeds Fellows and that of the sector as a whole.

And, the sector is very much a global one, comprising well in excess of 100,000 Fellows throughout the world.

We plan to fulfil this ambition by continuing the strong central support for professional recognition through OD&PL.

We are also exploring how best to equip colleagues in Schools and Services to support local efforts to increase numbers of Fellows.

We are particularly keen to help Schools and Services which have not engaged with the scheme as fully as others to get involved.

The PRiSE scheme is robust, supportive and inclusive.

Should you choose to engage with it at this, the halfway point in our term of accreditation, you will find an established and effective scheme run by an experienced team who are committed to enabling you to achieving recognition of your student education practice.

PRiSE provides a great opportunity to reflect on and develop your student education practice, and, as the colleagues who kindly agreed to be quoted in this article attest to, a rewarding and valuable experience.

To apply or for more information follow this link.