Learning and teaching

Categories of fellowship

The GOLD framework stimulates professional development through peer and mentor dialogue, by the sharing of good practice, and through critical reflection. Each category of fellowship is aligned to a descriptor (D1 – 3), which outlines the key characteristics of someone performing at that category of fellowship.

  • Associate Fellow (AFHEA) (D1) 
  • Fellow (FHEA) (D2) 
  • Senior Fellow (SFHEA) (D3)

Which category of fellowship is right for you? 

The typical roles and evidential requirements appropriate to each category of fellowship are set out in the GOLD Participant Handbooks for each category of fellowship. You are invited to use the HEA Fellowship tool that has been designed to assist you in selecting the category of Fellowship that is the closest match to your current practice. For each category you are encouraged to look at the specific GOLD Participant Handbooks and application form for more information. You are welcome to contact the GOLD Team if you feel a discussion would help to identify the most appropriate category for you.

All fellowship applications will be required to map evidence to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF). Guidance on how to do this is provided by the GOLD team and GOLD mentors.

GOLD mentees are supported by a trained GOLD mentor from their department/school. Mentees are also able to access further support provided by GOLD team academics from the Academic & Learning Enhancement Team (ALE). The GOLD team offer a complementary suite of GOLD development online workshops, drop in's and writing retreats to support mentees through their journey towards gaining fellowship.

Associate Fellow

Typically, this category of fellowship is for staff with some teaching responsibilities or for someone actively supporting learning, such as a librarian, technician, learning technologist, study skills tutor, GTA or an early career academic with some teaching responsibilities, but whose teaching does not make up the majority of their role.  Associate Fellow applicants are required to provide evidence for some dimensions of the UKPSF. This requires evidence for 2 of the 5 Areas of Activity to be included within the application. If you wish to do Area of Activity A2 (Teach and/or support learning) you will require a teaching observation to be conducted by your mentor. For all AFHEA applications there is an expectation that at least K1 and K2 will be mapped, as well narratives clearly demonstrating a commitment to the appropriate Values (Vs) required for facilitating and supporting the learning of others in your context. Mentees must provide evidence to meet Descriptor 1 in full.


Typically this category of fellowship is for teaching staff with some experience (usually around 2-3 years). Fellows are typically engaged in a wide range of teaching activities and have engaged in continuing professional development to support a reflective approach to teaching. Fellow applicants are required to provide evidence for all dimensions of the UKPSF and to have a teaching observation by their GOLD mentor. Mentees must provide evidence to meet Descriptor 2 in full.

Senior Fellow

Senior Fellow is designed to recognise the achievements of staff who can demonstrate influence on the professional practice of others beyond their own teaching practice. Senior Fellows will be those who have leadership, mentoring or management roles in addition to their teaching role, and can demonstrate a sustained record of effectiveness. Senior Fellow applicants are required to provide evidence for all dimensions of the UKPSF. Mentees must provide evidence to meet Descriptor 3 in full.

Mentees are strongly encouraged to attend the GOLD Senior Fellowship (SFHEA) Introductory webinar (1.5 hours) to explore the Senior Fellowship Descriptor 3, the specific requirements for D3, the case studies and types of evidence that need to be presented to demonstrate role and activity at SFHEA.

Principal Fellow

This category of accreditation is appropriate for senior staff who are able to demonstrate significant impact at a strategic level (in an institutional, national or international context) and a wider commitment to academic practice and leadership in teaching and learning. Principal Fellow applicants are required to provide evidence for all dimensions of the UKPSF.

The GOLD scheme can directly support and accredit staff wishing to apply for Associate Fellow, Fellow and Senior Fellow. All Principal Fellow applications are reviewed and awarded via a direct application to Advance HE. Principal Fellow candidates can be supported by the GOLD team and mentored by the university's team of PFHEAs. Our GOLD Introductory Principal Fellowship (PFHEA) Information and Guidance workshops give an overview of the requirements and process for PFHEA applications for interested parties and information about PFHEA can be found on the Advance HE website.