About the HEA and UKPSF

What is the HEA?
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) is the national body for enhancing learning and teaching in higher education (HE). It aims to provide excellent learning and teaching guidance, supporting UK HE organisations with an emphasis on improving the student experience.

Through collaboration with individuals, institutions and national bodies, the HEA helps academic staff in HE to teach and lead more effectively.  They offer accreditation, fellowships, awards and professional development schemes to help academic staff support learning and aim to give students the best possible experience of higher education and the best chance for the future.

For more details, see the HEA website

What is HEA Professional Recognition?
The HEA offer a Professional Recognition route which contributes towards the professionalisation of teaching by conferring the status of Associate Fellow (AFHEA), Fellow (FHEA), Senior Fellow (SFHEA) or Principal Fellow (PRHEA) of the Higher Education Academy.  This scheme is based on the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).

What is the UKPSF?
The UKPSF is the UK Professional Standard Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education, launched in 2011. Full details can be found by clicking here.  There is also a summary by viewing this HEA and UK PSF summary.

There are 3 Dimensions of Practice (Areas of Activity, Core Knowledge and Professional Values) which underpin 4 Descriptors or Fellowship categories.

  • Descriptor 1 – Associate Fellow
  • Descriptor 2 – Fellow
  • Descriptor 3 – Senior Fellow
  • Descriptor 4 – Principal Fellow

While the Dimensions of Practice are shown separate in the diagram below, they should be viewed as inter-related and integrated.

The 3 available options for HEA Individual Recognitionavailable through the Swansea Application Route are aligned to Descriptors 1-3 (Associate Fellow, Fellow and Senior Fellow) of the UKPSF (2011). Review the Routes to Fellowship page to evaluate which Descriptor is right for you at this point in your career.

Having difficulty determining how the UK PSF actually maps to your practice? Take a look at these resources:

Indicative Activities – what the UK PSF means in practice – some examples from Swansea

Digital ‘lens’ on the UK PSF: supporting the digital capabilities of teaching staff in UK HE , JISC revised by Helen Beetham (@helenbeetham)

HEA Guidance on supporting learners, those in music and College-based higher education.  For full details see the HEA webpage.

HEA Guidance for those supporting the learning of postgraduate research students and a webinar recording and further literature.

For further details, take a look at this Powerpoint Presentation: About the HEA and UKPSF.


  1. Can you please link me to Pebbelpad. I came to the presentation last week and think this was what we were asked to do. I will probably be submitting in April or July next summer as I have only been teaching in HE for 2 1/2 years at present (I presume that teaching in FE will not count?). Many thanks,

  2. Hi Angela – you should have access now

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  7. Please could you direct me to paper no. P1516-1381 as referenced in the Promo application form.

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