Developing staff: How your profile can develop and why

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In this post, Emily Salvesen from the Institute for Academic Development, tell us about her journey to becoming a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy as one of many paths that can lead to professional development for staff who teach or support learning.

Practically everyone going through the early days of schooling goes through the  Who am I? question: 

I’m female 

I’m slightly older than 40 …. 

live and work  in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland, UK,  European Continental zone  (correct way to say this now?)  the World, the Universe (as we know it), near a black hole or two .. 

I’ve a Masters degree 

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy 

Did I catch you with that last one?     

Is it important to me? Yes 


Professional recognition comes into higher education in a slightly hesitant way. As with many other areas of teaching, who is and isn’t a good teacher might stir up a hive of emotion and definitional argument, particularly within those working in the world of academia. Better, in my mind, to find a way that people can be recognised for their abilities within teaching and supporting learning.  The UK Professional Standards Framework does a decent job of this whilst trying to be generic enough to cover all the disciplines.  My abilities have been judged by my peers and I can say ‘I can do that’ – good for the self-esteem, employability characteristics, being ‘real’ in my job! It’s not particularly natural for academics or university professional support staff to use the word ‘I’ very often; ‘Inter-disciplinary teams’, ‘we’ and ‘the programme/course/research/technical/teams’ are amongst more common usage. I found that difficult in my own application and journey to become a Fellow, despite already having advised and mentored colleagues on their own paths to professional recognition ! 

The University of Edinburgh CPD Framework leads to several different routes to gaining professional recognition in higher education through the awards of Higher Education Academy Fellowships through both accredited or direct routes from Advance HE.    

I took the ‘direct application’ route, but you can have a look at the paths that might suit you. I love the picture above because it does symbolise the ‘journey in nature of continuing professional development’ – it’s a path. While it’s sometimes easy to get lost or forget the ‘me’ part, it’s fulfilling having taken it. In the University of Edinburgh there’s so many routes for all of us – whether you go for professional recognition in HEA Fellowship terms, go to or a MOOC to develop another part of your skill-set or do a workshop or attend a conference, these all lead us to a better understanding of ourselves. To be potentially more effective or efficient, give more time to the ‘me’ from which I think the team will benefit – I’d recommend you discover (or discuss in your annual review)  what in CPD is available for you and go for it …. maybe in a big block like doing EdTAIntroAPPgCAP or maybe like my son’s piano practice … 5 minutes a day … which brings about such amazing change over a year. 

 Good luck ! 

Emily Salvesen

Emily Salvesen is the CPD Programme Manager in the Institute for Academic Development.

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