Advance HE

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Advance HE
Legal statusNonprofit company
Registered charity (1101607)
PurposeApplication of research in UK higher education, and co-operation between departments
Region served
United Kingdom
Parent organization
Universities UK
Formerly called
The Higher Education Academy (HEA)

Advanced HE (formerly the Higher Education Academy) is a British professional membership scheme promoting excellence in higher education.[1] Advance HE advocates for evidence-based teaching methods and awards fellowships as a method of professional recognition for university teachers. The HEA was responsible for the UK Professional Standards Framework for higher education practitioners. On 21 March 2018, the HEA merged with the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit to form Advance HE.[2] "The merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education followed the recommendations of the Bell Review for a single sector agency for equality and diversity, learning and teaching, and leadership and governance in higher education."[3] The HEA had premises in York Science Park, Heslington. Its work is continued by Advance HE, which now operates the Higher Education Academy's professional membership scheme.

History and formation[edit]

The history of teacher training in the United Kingdom is a complex subject. In 1946, faced with chronic personnel shortages after the 2nd World War, the government invested in training programmes and required all teachers in the state sector to acquire qualified teacher status. For the next half century, Universities responded to this policy by providing both graduate entrants into teaching and teacher training programmes. In recent decades however, there has been a shift towards school-based training for teaching and also a change in terminology as teacher education has displaced teacher training [4] [5] Despite Higher Education's involvement in teacher training, University Lecturers have not needed any formal qualifications beyond demonstrating, usually through publications and a higher degree (such as a doctorate), expert subject knowledge. The merits of professional teaching qualifications for University Lecturers became an issue for debate during the later twentieth century.[6][citation needed] In 1997, the Dearing Report recommended the establishment of a professional body for Lecturers, the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, that would define standards and accredit training for university teaching. In a further recommendation, the Dearing Report suggested that during their probationary periods, all new Lecturers should be required to achieve 'at least associate membership' of the new Institute.[7] In response, the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education was founded in 2000.[citation needed]

In January 2003, a committee established by HEFCE, Universities UK and the Standing Conference of Principals recommended the establishment of a single central body responsible for standards of teaching in higher education. In response, the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education was merged with the Learning and Teaching Support Network and the National Coordination Team for the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund, becoming the Higher Education Academy.[1][8]

Aims and purpose[edit]

The HEA stated its overall aim in the following words:

Our mission, as stated in our Strategic Plan 2012-2016, is to use our expertise and resources to support the higher education community in order to enhance the quality and impact of learning and teaching. We do this by recognising and rewarding excellent teaching, bringing together people and resources to research and share best practice, and by helping to influence, shape and implement policy.[9]

The HEA devised a particular set of standards for university teaching (the 'UK Professional Standards Framework'), conferring professional recognition on academics who have met these standards, and runs the UK's annual National Teaching Fellowship awards. It also provides many online resources, some discipline-specific and some more generic, and organises workshops, seminars and journals on matters of interest. The HEA has a 'policy think-tank' and is engaged in research into teaching and learning, e.g. exploring the applicability of 'grade point average' schemes to the UK.

UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF)[edit]

The UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) for teaching and supporting learning in higher education is a voluntary[10] scheme for describing the competences and values expected of university teaching staff in the UK. The scheme consists of four 'descriptors', corresponding to different roles in higher education, and defines the areas of activity, core knowledge and professional values expected at each level. UKPSF was developed by the HEA and UKPSF's descriptors correspond to the levels in HEA's professional recognition scheme.[11][12]

The introduction of national professional standards for university teachers was one of the higher education reforms proposed in the 2003 DfES white paper "The Future of Higher Education". This paper outlined government plans to introduce new standards and to ensure that all new university teaching staff achieved a qualification that met them. These would be the responsibility of a new single "centre of excellence" in the form of a "teaching quality academy".[13] In response to this, the HEA was formed, and commissioned by the UK's education funding councils and Universities UK to develop the new standards. These became known as the "UK Professional Standards Framework" or "UKPSF".[12]

The framework has two elements: the "descriptors" which describe higher education roles and the associated competences, and the "dimensions of practice" which describe the activities, core knowledge and professional values expected of practitioners. There are four descriptors corresponding to support staff with minor teaching duties, full academics (e.g. lecturers), senior academics with teaching specialisms, and senior management with strategic responsibility for teaching. The descriptors correspond to the four grades within the HEA's professional recognition scheme[14] and academic staff are usually expected to demonstrate that they meet the second descriptor during their probationary period.[citation needed] The framework is used to accredit training schemes for university teachers such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE) and the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice.[citation needed]

Athena SWAN[edit]

Advance HE manage the Athena Swan Charter framework (established in 2005)[15] which is used to support gender equality within higher education and research.

Fellowships of the HEA and professional recognition[edit]

The HEA operated a professional recognition scheme (now run by Advance HE) for university teachers who have demonstrated that their teaching practices are well-aligned with UKPSF. This is intended both to encourage excellence in teaching and to provide academics with a portable qualification transferable between institutions. There are four grades:

  • AFHEA – Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (previously known as Associate (AHEA) of the Academy)
  • FHEA – Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • SFHEA – Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • PFHEA – Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

The Associate Fellow grade represents the minimum level of competence expected of any university teacher, with the Fellow grade representing the level normally required in an established academic post.[16] These grades can be awarded on the basis of an assessed portfolio (containing a candidate's statement and supporting references) or on completion of an accredited course such as a PGCHE or PGCAP. The higher grades of Senior Fellow and Principal Fellow represent significant leadership in the promotion of teaching excellence, and are only awarded on the basis of an assessed portfolio.[16]


The Higher Education Academy was funded by grants from four higher education funding bodies in the UK (HEFCE, SFC, HEFCW and DELNI), subscriptions from higher education institutions, and grant/contract income for organised initiatives. It is owned by the representative bodies of the higher education sector – Universities UK and GuildHE (formerly known as the Standing Conference of Principals).

Historical activities[edit]

HEA used to incorporate "subject centres" to share best practices in specific disciplines. These centres were based around the UK at relevant university faculties. As of 1 January 2012, almost all the subject centres had closed.[17] Archived resources that have been developed over their 12 years are still available in the discipline pages of the HEA website.

List of former Higher Education Academy Subject Centres[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c HEFCE (2009). "Higher Education Academy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  2. ^ Advance HE Accessed 18 June 2018
  3. ^ "Advance HE". Advance HE. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Teacher Training up to the 1960s".[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "Teacher Training up to the Present Day".
  6. ^ "Should lecturers have teaching qualifications?". The Courier Online. 30 April 2012. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
  7. ^ "Dearing Report". 1997. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  8. ^ HEFCE (2003). "Teaching Quality Enhancement Committee". Archived from the original on 2 February 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  9. ^ HEA. "About The Higher Education Academy". Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  10. ^ BIS (2013). "Opening up Education: Innovative teaching and learning for all through New Technologies and Open Educational Resources". Retrieved 18 August 2014.
  11. ^ HEA. "UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF)". Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  12. ^ a b Fry, Heather; Ketteridge, Steve (2009). "Enhancing Personal Practice: Establishing Teaching and Learning Credentials". In Fry, Heather; Ketteridge, Steve; Marshall, Ketteridge (eds.). A Handbook for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education: Enhancing Academic Practice (3rd ed.). Routledge. pp. 469–484. ISBN 978-0-415-43464-5.
  13. ^ Department for Education and Skills (2003). "The Future of Higher Education" (PDF) (white paper). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 June 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  14. ^ HEA. "Professional Recognition". Archived from the original on 31 May 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2014.
  15. ^ Barnard, Sarah (2017), White, Kate; O'Connor, Pat (eds.), "The Athena SWAN Charter: Promoting Commitment to Gender Equality in Higher Education Institutions in the UK", Gendered Success in Higher Education: Global Perspectives, London: Palgrave Macmillan UK, pp. 155–174, doi:10.1057/978-1-137-56659-1_8, ISBN 978-1-137-56659-1, retrieved 19 September 2021
  16. ^ a b HEA. "Framework Guidance Note 2: What are the UK Professional Standards Framework Descriptors?". Retrieved 26 April 2010.
  17. ^ Attwood, Rebecca (25 November 2010). "Academics express 'profound consternation' at support-centre closures". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 4 May 2014.

External links[edit]