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NewsProfessional Recognition

Carys Kennedy: applying for Senior Fellowship (SFHEA)

Carys is Deputy Manager of the the UAL Disability Service.

AdvanceHE Fellowship demonstrates a personal commitment to teaching, learning and the student experience. It provides formal recognition that can be used for career planning and progression. UAL’s Professional  Recognition Programme provides staff with structured guidance to prepare an application for Associate, Fellow, or Senior Fellow. 

Whether you are starting out, want to move in a new direction or have significant experience managing teaching and learning activity, Fellowship recognises the professional status of your existing expertise.

The categories of Fellowship don’t necessarily coordinate with specific job titles, roles or seniority.  Use this series of case studies to understand the variety of experiences that may allow you to gain Fellowship. 

Hi Carys, welcome.  Could you give an overview of your role(s) and responsibilities at UAL please?  

I’m the Deputy Manager of the Disability Service: I’ll be celebrating 10 years working in UAL’s Disability Service in September 2023. 

I’m part of the Disability Service management team, heading up the Disability Advice part of our service. I line manage 2 Senior Disability Advisers and the Support Work Coordinator. I also provide direct disability advice for a small caseload of around 150 students.  

As part of my role, I coordinate the Disability Services’s staff development and training provision and our print publications.  I’m also working on a few projects related to UAL’s access and participation plan

What made you decide that applying for SFHEA was a good idea? How did you think it would benefit you? 

I successfully completed FHEA as part of my PGCert Academic Practice. The colleagues who reviewed my application warmly encouraged me to apply for SFHEA – so that’s what I did! 

How long did it take you to create your application?   

I joined the Professional Recognition Programme workshops in September 2022, and managed to submit my application in January 2023. So I was working on it off-and-on for around 5 months. It’s hard to say how much time I spent on it? I blocked out an hour a week from around October to chip away at it, but that timeslot quite often got bumped by other things.

Did your thinking about your teaching and learning practice change during the course of making the application? 

I’m not sure if my practice changed during the application but I did appreciate the time to pause and reflect on my work and its impact. It was quite a reassuring process and has helped to build my confidence. 

What was the biggest challenge to overcome? Did you have any setbacks? 

There are never enough hours in the day, so finding time to work on the application alongside my full-time job and MA Academic Practice was very challenging. Blocking out an hour per week to work on it helped me to keep it moving forward, slowly but surely. 

Did anything surprise you about going through the process of creating and making your application? 

I was amazed by the amount of kind support I got from so many colleagues across UAL. My mentor Vikki, my referees Anna and Jo, and the recognition leads Neil and Santanu were all incredibly generous with their time, advice and support.  

A couple of other colleagues, Cath and Amy, also kindly contributed short testimonials when I asked them to. I felt awkward about doing this, but they were very understanding, especially as they were familiar with the SFHEA application so understood why I was asking. Thank you so much, everyone who supported me with my application! 

Now you’ve achieved SFHEA, what impacts has it had for you, if any?  

It’s been less than a month since I had confirmation that I have achieved SFHEA so it’s perhaps a little too soon to comment on its impact. What I can say is that I’m really proud to have achieved SFHEA, especially given that I’m not an academic member of staff.  

It’s really reassuring to have positive feedback about the impact of my work across UAL. Like many people, I experience a bit of imposter syndrome, especially when it comes to advising academic colleagues. Being awarded SFHEA reassured me that I am on the right track.

What advice would you have for anyone looking to make an SFHEA application? 

I really recommend using the mapping/audit document to plan what to write about. It helped me to decide which case studies to prioritise, as some of my possible case studies covered more of the descriptors than others.  

Everyone works differently, so blocking and hour out each week might not work for you but I do think ensuring you have protected time periodically helps to keep things moving forward too.  

Finally, I would encourage you to ask colleagues for short feedback or testimonials about the impact of your work. It can feel awkward doing this, but everyone I asked was really supportive (and it was also really nice to hear their lovely feedback!) 

Read case studies for other levels of Fellowship