Higher Education Academy launches revised UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF) on behalf of the sector

The Higher Education Academy (HEA) has revised the UK Professional Standards Framework after extensive consultation with the sector. The Framework is owned by the sector and developed and managed by the HEA.

Crucial to teaching quality in higher education, the UKPSF is commonly used in the training and development of teaching and/or learning support staff in higher education institutions (HEIs.) The Framework can be used to design and structure the development programmes used to train and develop those who teach.

Introduced in 2006, it provides a general description of the dimensions of teaching and learning support roles within HE. It also outlines a national framework for comprehensively recognising and benchmarking those roles.

As well as its use on training development programmes, the UKPSF can also be used:

  • as a framework for continuing professional development (CPD) for those academics involved in learning and teaching. There is a natural progression through the framework that facilitates this;
  • by senior managers to enhance the quality and prominence of the teaching and learning activities within their remit. For example, its requirements can be included in job descriptions for posts with substantive teaching requirements;
  • to become an Associate, Fellow, Senior Fellow or Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. This gives national recognition as a university educator.


The consultation and revision of the Framework followed widespread agreement across the sector that, given the rapidly changing nature of HE and the increasing emphasis on teaching quality and support for students’ learning, some revisions to the UKPSF would be timely.

One of the main revisions is the introduction of a ‘Principal Fellow’ and Descriptor Four category. This will facilitate the further professional development of staff and articulate a clearer progression pathway.

Professor Craig Mahoney, Chief Executive of the HEA – the national body for learning and teaching in UK higher education – comments:

“The strengthened UKPSF is vitally important at a time when expectations around teaching quality in higher education are greater than ever before.

“The UKPSF gives academics and other staff who support student learning the opportunity to benchmark their professional development. The Descriptors in the Framework give confidence that people with a critical job to do, supporting students in their learning experience, are appropriately prepared at each stage in their career.

“Teaching in HE, and the business of qualification, has been a focus of UK governments over the past year. With teaching budgets stretched and the forthcoming rise of student fees in England, students will be asking more questions about value for money. Some of those questions will be about who is teaching them.”

“The UKPSF provides an excellent foundation for qualifying staff. Owned by the sector, it has the potential to be a key indicator of UK higher education’s commitment to teaching and supporting learning, giving confidence that minimum standards have been met.”

HEA accreditation provides external endorsement that the institution’s professional development provision meets the professional standards for teaching and learning in HE. The HEA currently accredits 378 programmes in 140 higher education institutions across the UK.

Source: Higher Education Academy  http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/news/detail/2011/revised_ukpsf_nov_2011