Principal Fellow (PFHEA)

What a PFHEA application looks like

Checklist for PFHEA. Record of my educational impact. Overview of my teaching career. Philosophy of teaching and learning. Reflective narratives of practice (D4.1, D4.2, D4. Literature reference list. 2 referee reports (one of the referees must be a FHEA, SFHEA or PFHEA; one of the referees must comment on how you have directly influenced their practice; one of the referees must be based at your university; one of the referees must be based at an Australian university other than your own).

Below is what an Application form will look like, along with some examples from previous applicants. You can download this form along with other relevant documents from here.

Principal Fellow (PFHEA) Application
Section 1. Application Cover sheet
Complete the cover sheet, sign it and scan it to attach to the start of your application. By signing, you are declaring that:

  • the information you have provided is true and correct, maintains academic integrity and does not breach anyone else’s rights to privacy or confidentiality; and
  • if you are successful in your application, you will commit to upholding the HEA Code of Practice, and remain in good standing with HEA and the EFS by continuing your professional development to enhance your teaching skills, knowledge and practice (e.g. by attending EFS events and workshops).
Section 2. Record of educational impact (REI)

The REI should be considered as an ‘advanced organiser’ to help you think about your career, especially in the last five years, in a way that can guide your writing of the application, and also help assessors understand your career path and trajectory.

First identify the five to 8 key strategic leadership activities (not positions) that together illustrate your experience and impact on higher education in the context of teaching and/or supporting learners.

Give each activity a simple title that provides an adequate description of the nature of each activity, show the time range when it was relevant to your career (years only), and identify the section in which you describe/reflect on this activity in your Reflective Account of Practice (RAP). This will help cover all five elements of Descriptor 4 in your RAP, and allows the REI to be used as a checklist guide by EFS Assessors.

The focus of the REI must be on your activities related to teaching and learning. (Only refer to research in your discipline when it is about the pedagogy of the discipline, or on managerial roles where they are related strategically to teaching and supporting learning.) You should choose activities that will allow you to demonstrate the breadth and depth of your engagement and achievements commensurate with all elements of Descriptor 4 (i.e. D4.1 to D4.5). For example, you might identify ‘leading the adoption of a Learning Management System and online learning across the university’ as an example that will allow you to show evidence of your leadership and impact in relation to D4.1 (championing K4), D4.2. (strategic leadership of a visionary initiative), and D4.3 (policies and strategies related to supporting staff and students as they moved to blended or fully online teaching/learning).

Typical examples of REI activities (teaching and learning focus only):

  • Led the development of a learning and teaching strategy underpinned by professional values
  • Led institution-wide review of promotion structures related to teaching and learning
  • Developed and implemented institution-wide innovative teaching and learning approaches
  • Led institution-wide work on quality enhancement/assurance initiatives
  • Leadership contributions within relevant national and international organisations
  • Providing mentoring, training or professional development
  • Developed reward and recognition policies (at School level as well as institution-wide)
  • Developed staff appraisal systems for teaching and support of learning
  • Led and disseminated pedagogic innovation nationally or internationally;
  • Research with dissemination of teaching-related topics
  • Committee leadership or external reviewer roles (only if this resulted in innovative outcomes, or outcomes and great impact, or significant professional learning opportunities for you)
  • Significant curriculum development (discipline-wide nationally or institution-wide)
  • Networking with colleagues within and outside the institutional context
Section 3. Career Overview, include years (400 words max)
In this paragraph, you should concisely explain the context of your teaching, and the breadth and depth of your teaching roles and experiences, including work with peers.
Section 4. My Philosophy of Teaching and Learning (400 words max)
This contextualises your career activities related to teaching and learning in higher education in terms of your motivations, values and intentions.

Guiding questions:

  • What drives you in your commitment to leading teaching and learning initiatives at university?
  • What values or beliefs inspire the way you work with students and staff in higher education?
  • Are there any theories of learning/leadership that have guided or motivated you in your approaches to leadership, policy development or staff/student engagement?
  • Have you been particularly influenced by any particular people or ideas, which may have come to you through professional development, reading, mentors, or your own learning experiences?
Section 5.1 Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) (1200 words max)
D4.1 Active commitment to, and championing of, all Dimensions of the Professional Standards Framework, through work with students and staff, and in institutional developments

This is the heart of your application and is a reflective account of your sustained and effective record of impact and influence at a strategic level in relation to teaching and supporting learning. Your RAP is divided into five sections, each addressing one of the five elements of Descriptor 4.

The first section (D4.1) should be written so as to act as an overview of your career, starting with your teaching philosophy, and introducing the examples and reflections incorporated into the other four sections in the context of the PSF. In D4.1, it is very valuable for you to annotate your RAP with reference to the PSF (e.g. A4, K6, etc.) as appropriate, as this helps to demonstrate your understanding of, and familiarity and engagement with, all elements of the PSF.

Each of the subsequent four sections (D4.2-D4.5) should be addressed substantively and reflectively, with equal weighting, although the quality of reflection is obviously far more important than quantity. Remember to describe – explain your leadership role – give evidence of influence/impact – reflect on any changes in the way you approach similar activities as a result of your professional experience.

You will be supported by feedback from your EFS mentor as you draft your application.

Section 5.2 Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) (1200 words max)
D4.2 Successful, strategic leadership to enhance student learning, with a particular, but not necessarily exclusive focus on enhancing teaching quality in institutional, and/or (inter)national settings
Same as above (Section 5.1) but reflect on D4.2 here.
Section 5.3 Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) (1200 words max)
D4.3 Establishing effective organisational policies and/or strategies for supporting and promoting others in delivering high quality teaching and support for learning
 Same as above (Section 5.1) but reflect on D4.3 here.
Section 5.4 Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) (1200 words max)
D4.4 Championing, within institutional and/or wider settings, an integrated approach to academic practice, incorporating, for example, teaching, research, scholarship, administration etc.
 Same as above (Section 5.1) but reflect on D4.4 here.
Section 5.5 Reflective Account of Practice (RAP) (1200 words max)
D4.5 A sustained and successful commitment to, and engagement in, continuing professional development related to academic, institutional and/or other professional practices
 Same Same as above (Section 5.1) but reflect on D4.5 here.
Section 6. Literature reference list
Include a reference list of all literature cited in your application in the style of your choice.
Section 7. Referees
Your application must be submitted with statements from three referees who can authenticate your practice. You can also provide evidence in your reflective narrative that your practice has been authenticated by others, for example, through peer observation or review. You can download a Referee Report template to send them.

Referees are required to attest to the effective elements of your practice, through their personal experience. Your referees should therefore be able to provide informed corroboration of your teaching experience and capabilities in the context of the PSF and your application.

At least one Referee Report must come from an existing HEA fellow in your College (AFHEA, FHEA, SFHEA or PFHEA), who can comment on the evidence you have provided, your teaching and/or supporting learning activities, and the relevance to Descriptor 4. This is the part of the intra- College and cross-University mentoring within the EFS. If this poses a problem for you, please seek advice from your EFS mentor.

Please include all three completed Referee Reports at the end of your application in one PDF document.

What’s next?

Contact the EFS team at to access the relevant application forms. Once you have completed a draft, send it to for feedback from an EFS mentor. When you’re satisfied with your final application, you are ready to submit.