The Higher Education Academy (HEA – now part of Advance HE) works in partnership with higher education institutions to support student success. You can gain professional recognition for your teaching through the HEA’s fellowship scheme.

Imperial, through the STAR Framework, offers accredited taught pathways to support you in gaining professional recognition.

The Graduate School’s Graduate Teaching Assistant Programme (GTAP) is an accredited taught pathway to Associate Fellowship of the HEA. Recognition of your teaching in this way is becoming increasingly important, and many employers now expect new academics to hold fellowship or to gain fellowship within a probationary period.

How do I gain Associate Fellowship (AFHEA)?

To be awarded Associate Fellowship, you will need to demonstrate that you meet the requirements of Descriptor 1 (D1) of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) – see below,


For AFHEA, this means you have to demonstrate your practice of two of the Areas of Activity (usually A2 and A3), your core knowledge (K1 and K2), and your commitment to any (not necessarily all) of the professional values (V1-V4).

As a GTAP participant, you can apply for Associate Fellowship of the HEA by doing the following:

  • attend at least the two core courses in GTAP – Introduction to Learning and Teaching; Introduction to Assessment and Feedback for Learning;
  • write a short personal statement/introduction to your application;
  • complete two reflective assignments about your teaching practice;
  • conduct a teaching observation of another GTA;
  • write a peer reference for the GTA you have observed;
  • obtain two references in support of your own AFHEA application – one from a peer GTA and one from an academic tutor.

You can find out more by attending the AFHEA webinar.


Guidance for Referees

Q. What should the reference contain?

A. The reference should provide a brief overview of the candidate’s achievements in teaching and learning. Any information about the candidate’s research should only be included if it has a direct impact on her/his teaching.

Q. Should I refer to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF)?

A. Yes, you should use your knowledge of the candidate’s teaching to say how s/he meets the Dimensions of the UKPSF for Descriptor 1 (Associate Fellow). Where possible, give concrete examples to support your comments. You should say how the candidate demonstrates Core Knowledge (K1 and K2 in the UKPSF) and any of the Professional Values (V1 – V4 in the UKPSF).

Q. Is there a standard format for the reference?

A. No, there is no standard format for the reference. However, you may find it useful to comment under the Dimensions of the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF), i.e. under the two Areas of Activity in the candidate’s application.

Q. How should I submit my reference?

A. You should send your reference to the candidate electronically. The reference should include your name, job title, organisation (including department where applicable) and email address. The HEA may wish to contact you to clarify points in your reference.