Doubt over HEA process: how did we get here?

July 27, 2017

The basic tenet of “Credibility of UK’s teaching fellowship process under scrutiny” (News, 27 July) is to cast doubt on the reliability of the Higher Education Academy teaching accreditation process based on a single “alleged’ concern at the University of Roehampton

The article fails to consider the potential harmful impact of unproven allegations about systems that are recognising and supporting the quality of teaching in a sector that is facing increased demands to be accountable. 

In my work across the sector, I find that most academics are proud to have the opportunity to achieve recognition and to become an HEA fellow, senior fellow or  principal fellow. I have been an accreditor for the HEA since its conception and have worked with many institutions to support both the accreditation and recognition processes. Achieving accreditation is rigorous, with a multilayered quality assurance system to assure the academy that institutions meet the accreditation criteria. The process has always been based on peer evaluation, and in the case of the accreditation of programmes and continuing professional development schemes, the HEA recognised the growing expertise within the sector and the fact that institutions wished to take a greater responsibility in making judgements about their own staff. This shift was nothing to do with economics and finance related to the HEA. “Scaling up” the size of accredited schemes has to a large extent happened organically as institutions have increasing numbers of staff with fellowships and have integrated accredited schemes into other teaching and learning development initiatives. 

With only one allegation, which is not upheld, it is confusing to understand how we have got to a position of interrogating with such ferocity the integrity of HEA accreditation and the judgement process. 

Liz Shrives 

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