THE University of Huddersfield is the first in the country at which ALL teaching staff have been awarded professional recognition by the Higher Education Academy (HEA).
This is described as a "remarkable achievement" by the head of the HEA and is being cited as one factor in the University's increasingly impressive showing in the teaching excellence categories of exercises such as the influential National Student Survey (NSS).
The Chief Executive of the HEA, Professor Craig Mahoney, has visited the University of Huddersfield to present a plaque commemorating the fact that all of its 750-plus lecturers - after meeting criteria laid down by the UK Professional Standards Framework - are now Fellows of the Academy, having undergone a stringent application process.
Professor Mahoney commented: "I am delighted for the teaching staff at the University of Huddersfield and, more importantly, for its students. They will be the ones who benefit most from this remarkable achievement.
"Our students enter university first and foremost to learn," he added, "and we know from surveys such as the National Student Survey that the quality of the teaching they receive is of the utmost importance to them. To know that every student, whatever their course, is being taught by someone who has clearly demonstrated their knowledge and ability to teach is invaluable."
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, Professor Bob Cryan, is delighted by the achievement.
"Every member of staff at Huddersfield who holds a substantive teaching role is now a Fellow of the HEA," he said. "Our new members of staff, those with less than 12-months service, are all working to achieve recognition before the end of their first year with us.
"Here at Huddersfield we are committed to providing top quality teaching to all our students in an excellent environment. The HEA scheme allows us to publicly demonstrate the professionalism of our teaching staff, which is something we are very proud of."
The University's Pro-Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, Professor Tim Thornton, outlined the origins of the project to ensure universal HEA Fellowship.
"We realised that the process of achieving Fellowship would be a very good way of encouraging colleagues to reflect on teaching and learning and to develop their practice. It is also an excellent way of demonstrating to students and potential students the University's commitment to and delivery of the very highest levels and standards of teaching and learning."
For new lecturers, the route to achieving an HEA Fellowships is a demanding programme that includes a portfolio of work, in order to be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education. Lecturers who are longer established in their posts take a route that involves the production of an extensive document demonstrating their professional competence in a range of key areas.
Just four years ago, said Professor Thornton, only a quarter of Huddersfield teaching staff were HEA Fellows, but now that the 100 per cent target has been achieved, the benefits are plain.
"We have had scores in the NSS, which in some categories are the best in the UK. Obviously other factors have played a part, but I do think that for colleagues structuring the process of reflection and development and getting recognition as Fellows is one explanation for that broader improvement."