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AFHEA pathway for doctoral researchers

What is AFHEA?

Associate Fellowship (AFHEA) provides recognition of professional practice for supporting teaching and learning in Higher Education. It entitles you to use post-nominal letters AFHEA and is increasingly sought by employers across the sector for appointment and promotion purposes.

Why apply for recognition?

Professional recognition of your teaching is important, and many employers expect new colleagues to have Associate Fellowship or to be working towards it during their probationary period. Associate Fellowship status is recognised across the higher education sector in the UK, and increasingly internationally, as confirmation of knowledge, skills and experience gained in teaching and learning.

What is the University of Reading FLAIR Framework?

The University of Reading FLAIR Framework (Facilitating Learning and Teaching Achievement and Individual Recognition) is accredited by Advance HE and combines three strands: an AFHEA pathway for doctoral researchers, the Academic Practice Programme (APP) and a non-taught CPD scheme. All three pathways are supported by the Academic Development and Enhancement (ADE) team in CQSD (the Centre for Quality, Support and Development) and enable colleagues to gain professional recognition for their work in teaching and/or supporting learning.

What is the AFHEA pathway for doctoral researchers?

Through the Doctoral and Researcher College, the Academic Development and Enhancement team (ADE) in CQSD supports a selected cohort of doctoral researchers to apply for recognition for their work in teaching and supporting learning, in order to attain AFHEA status: Associate Fellowship of the HEA.

The pathway consists of:

  • an application for selection onto the scheme
  • full participation at three compulsory taught sessions (view dates here)
  • school-based support (through a mentor)
  • CQSD ADE support around writing an application
  • submission of an application under the FLAIR scheme which is reviewed by a panel

How long does it take?

The timeframe, from the selection process to final submission, takes three terms (Spring-Autumn): three compulsory taught sessions introducing the scheme, unpacking the Professional Standards Framework (PSF) and exploring the Areas of Activity as well as supporting the writing and submission of a reflective application

What goes in an application for AFHEA?

Your application will consist of:
  • A short contextual statement
  • A Professional Activity Table (PAT) aligned to the Professional Standards Framework (PSF), with three Areas of Activity completed (information on the PSF can be found on the page outlining the enrolment process).
  • A CPD log
  • A CPD plan
  • A reference list
  • Two supporting statements

If your submission is successful you will receive a certificate reflecting the award of HEA Fellowship at the category of Associate Fellow (AFHEA).

What counts as 'teaching' hours?

You will need to consider whether you have the breadth and depth of experience. As early career researchers you may be approaching AFHEA from a variety of backgrounds or levels of experience and as such, what counts as appropriate activity is typically varied. 


The ways in which you teach/support learning might be formal and timetabled, or they might be informal and outside of scheduled classes. Applicants to the scheme should be able to refer to a variety of teaching and learning support in order to demonstrate sufficient breadth across their application. So, for example, 20 hours of marking alone will not provide a broad enough range of experiences for an application to be successful.

What constitutes "teaching and/or supporting learning" will vary according the context in which you are working.  For a more detailed explanation, see the document what counts as teaching.

What is reflective writing?

You will write your application in the first person voice ('I' and 'my') to refer to the activities, knowledge and values which underpin your experiences in teaching and supporting learning in Higher Education.

Am I eligible for selection?

Before deciding whether you would like to apply for enrolment on this scheme it is vital that you have a good understanding of what AFHEA means, a clear idea of what the process involves, and how much work it will be. You will find all this information in the handbook. You should also read through the eligibility criteriacarefully, and make sure that you meet them.

Please note, there are a limited number of places on the scheme so not everyone who applies for selection will be successful.

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