Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible to participate in the Academic Professional Programme?

The Academic Professional Programme is available to all staff at the University of Exeter for whom Academic Practice (teaching and/or research) is a key part of their role.

For some Lecturers, participation is mandatory: this applies to Lecturers (E&R) on the Professional Development Programme, for whom completion is a probationary requirement; and for some (E&S) Lecturers, Academic Professional must have been started before the end of the probation period. 

The majority of participants on Academic Professional will be funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as Degree Apprentices. However, as not all staff will be eligible for ESFA funding (based on recent UK/EEA residency), a parallel Pathway will run for those not eligible for ESFA funding, who will undertake a near-identical programme (funded by the University).

There two main Pathways on the Academic Professional Programme are:

  1. Standard Pathway: 24 Month Duration for Staff on Full-time Contracts or part-time contracts over 80% for a minimum of 2 years, and eligible for ESFA funding (based on UK/EEA residency)
  2. Non-Standard Pathway: 24 Month Duration for Staff on Full-time Contracts over 80% for a minimum of 2 years, and not eligible for ESFA funding (based on UK/EEA residency)

The content and delivery of each pathway is identical, with the exception that on the Standard Pathway the End Point Assessment will be conducted by an External Assessment Organisation; and on the Non-Standard Pathway the End Point Assessment will be conducted by an Internal Assessment Panel (for more information about End Point Assessment please see the FAQ on 'How long does the Programme last..')

Please note, if places on the programme are limited, those with probationary requirements that include Academic Professional will be prioritised; a waiting list is managed by the Academic Professional Administrator

Staff who are on fixed term and/or part time contracts that will not enable them to undertake either of the main 24-month Pathways and who wish to participate on Academic Professional, can instead undertake the 60 credit module as two separate 30 credit modules obtaining a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PCAP) and FHEA and ASPIRE. In these instances, participation should be discussed with your academic lead, Head of Discipline and/ or Associate Dean for Education before enrolling on the programme, further to a discussion with the Programme Director.

Please note that Academic Professional is not available to Postgraduate Teaching Assistants (i.e. postgraduate students engaged in teaching); the Learning & Teaching in Higher Education programme is designed specifically with this group in mind. Please also note that LTHE credits will no longer be transferrable to the Academic Professional Programme from September 2018.

How does ESFA funding eligibility work?

Participants on the Standard Pathway will be funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) as Degree Apprentices, and will receive a certificate from the Institute of Apprenticeships on successful completion of the programme. Participants on the Non-Standard Pathway (who don’t meet the ESFA’s funding eligibility criteria for Degree Apprenticeships) will be funded directly by the University of Exeter. Participants on both pathways will receive a Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice; Fellowship of the HEA; Fellowship of ASPIRE.

To meet the ESFA’s eligibility criteria, a participant must:

  • Have right of abode and the right to work in England
  • Be resident of the EEA (including UK/EU) for at least 3 years immediately prior to the start of the programme
  • Have other eligible residency status (as detailed in the Apprenticeship Funding Rules, Appendix A)
  • Be employed for the duration of the programme
  • Spend at least 50% of working time in England for the duration of the programme

The Academic Professional Administrator and HR team will determine eligibility using data gathered during the enrolment process, and may request additional information where necessary to complete this process; thank you for your help and patience in assisting the team to complete these checks.

Who is exempt from undertaking Academic Professional?

If you are already a Fellow of the HEA, have an equivalent qualification from another higher education institution (at least 60 credits at Level 7, see point 1 below for equivalent programmes) and/or have more than 3 years full-time equivalent HE teaching experience in the United Kingdom, you may be exempt from the Academic Professional Programme. It is for the Pro-Vice Chancellors in each College to decide whether this is appropriate or not, based on a single piece of evidence (e.g. Fellowship, a qualification) or a portfolio of evidence (e.g. experience plus courses). Pro-Vice Chancellors are invited to discuss such situations with the Programme Director and the Head of Academic Development.

In order to ensure consistency and an audit trail for such decisions, a record of the following information should be gathered by the College:

  1. Evidence of certification of an equivalent qualification from another higher education institution, which should be at least 60 credits at Level 7. This might include a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) for secondary, further or Higher Education, Postgraduate Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. Details of the modules taken should be provided when applying for exemption. Please note that a primary PGCE is not a HESA-recognised teaching qualification and so cannot be used towards exemption of PCAP/Academic Professional.
  2. Number of years teaching / supporting learning in HE and the nature of the experience (including the number of hours undertaken per year). This would usually require in excess of three year’s employment in HE in a role that includes teaching as an integral component (e.g. Teaching Fellow, Lecturer (Education and Research, but not PhD student or Research Fellow). Teaching/supporting learning could include a range of activities: design and delivery of modules, assessment, tutorials, PhD supervision, dissertation supervision, external examining, mentoring, staff development.
  3. Level of teaching undertaken. This would usually need to have involved developing a range of different modules, either for sole delivery or as part of a team, and assuming the role of module leader.
  4. Teaching observation carried out in line with peer observation practices at the University of Exeter.
  5. A reference from a senior colleague, evidencing the quality of the applicant’s teaching/support for learning.

If exemption is approved, you will NOT receive the award of PCAP/ Academic Professional or Fellowship of the HEA, i.e. exemption does not confer a HESA-recognised qualification. Therefore staff who are exempt from PCAP/Academic Professional and not yet Fellows of the HEA will need to gain ASPIRE / HEA Fellowship status through Exeter’s ASPIRE Professional Recognition Scheme. This is a probationary requirement for Lecturers (E&R) and is also expected for other staff whose role includes teaching.

Exemption may also be approved with conditions. For example, the Pro-Vice Chancellor may still require the member of staff to attend some PCAP sessions (e.g. to gain an understanding of UK higher education and working within a research-intensive university), some Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) sessions or other short courses, including the Doctoral Supervision Workshops which is mandatory for all staff new to supervision at Exeter.

Staff considering seeking exemption should complete the request an Exemption form from the Academic Professional Administrator.

When is it possible to Accredit Prior Learning (APL) towards the Academic Professional Programme?

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the process whereby staff can omit some parts of their chosen programme of academic study by recognition of their learning from previous experiences and achievements (which can include the University of Exeter). Occasionally, a new member of staff may have certificates of learning and/or evidence of experiential learning that can be accredited through Academic Professional, which must normally have occurred in the past five years.

Where this is the case on Academic Professional, the individual can undertake the Standard Pathway if they are eligible for ESFA funding, and have their previous skills and accredited prior learning counted towards their progress on the programme, omitting aspects of the Standard that they need to achieve. Alternatively they can undertake the programme through the 2 x 30 credit module approach, and be awarded the credit from one of the PCAP modules without completing it and receive the award of PCAP and Fellowship of the HEA.

APL forms and additional guidance can be requested from the Academic Professional Administrator, and must be returned with supporting evidence to the Programme Director, via the Administrator. 

The decision of the Academic Professional Programme Director is final and will be provided to the member of staff within 4 weeks following receipt of the request.

Can I specialise in research?

A feature of the Academic Professional programme is that through consultation with your Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer, you should design a bespoke course of study that is aligned with your interest and College-based practice. You will need to select a Specialist Role in either Research, or Teaching: your independent study and assessments should reflect the Specialist Role.

An example is given in the Programme Handbook of how your learning activities, assignments and assessments might vary depending on the route that you choose. 

How long does the programme last, and how much contact time is there, how will I manage my workload?

On each of the main Pathways the programme duration is 24 months. Within that period, there is one introductory session; six contact days of classroom based learning (split into two learning blocks). In addition, you will attend a tripartite review with your College-based Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer, at least termly for the duration of the programme.

The rest of your work is ‘guided independent study’ which requires you to manage your time and assignments, taking note of assessment submission deadlines.

The End Point Assessment is a three stage assessment process that takes place between months 21 – 24 of the programme, involving a 1 hour practice assessment, a written assignment, and a one-hour professional conversation with the external assessor. Full details of the learning activities, assignments and assessments, as well as an indicative timetable can be found in the Programme Handbook, which you will be able to access via ELE, the University of Exeter's on-line Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), and OneFile, when you join the programme.

You will receive 330 SWARM hours per year for each of the main Pathways (660 hours in total). This equates to 20% of an E&R contract, and slightly above 20% of an E&S contract. The programme is designed to work within this allocation, and for many of your existing activities to form a part of your assignments; this should form a key part of the discussions with your Academic Lead and the Academic Professional Lecturer at your tripartite reviews.

What are the roles of the Academic Professional Lecturer, Academic Professional Tutor, and Academic Lead?

Academic Professional Tutor

All participants are assigned an Academic Professional Tutor for each Block, who is a member of the teaching delivery team and therefore familiar with the block content. The role of the Tutor is to provide academic support, especially in relation to the assessment. Typically a Tutor might provide feedback on a participant’s assessment plans, either via email, phone or face-to-face meeting (please note a Tutor would not normally comment on a final draft just prior to submission). Please contact your Tutor directly by email if you wish to take up this support. Your personal Tutor will aim to provide you with feedback within 3 weeks, but where this is not possible we will ensure that another member of the team is available to provide you with feedback. Therefore, if you get an out-of-office message, or you don’t hear back from your personal Tutor within 3 weeks, please alert the Academic Professional Administrator and we will ensure that another member of the team responds to you as soon as possible.

Academic Professional Lecturer

The Academic Professional Lecturer delivers key elements of the programme and is responsible for coordinating the Tripartite Reviews. The Academic Professional Programme is mapped against the requirements of the Academic Professional (L7) Apprenticeship Standard (as well as the UKPSF). The Academic Standard requires participants to take undertake a core role, and to follow one of two specialist routes, teaching and supporting learning, or undertaking research. It is expected that participants’ programmes will be highly individualised, as they align their independent guided study and the focus of their summative assessments with their College-based practice and their chosen specialist route. Tripartite reviews are designed to support this process, and to map participants’ progress against the Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours outlined in the Academic Standard. The Academic Professional Lecturer will lead on monitoring and mapping your progress against the Standard in the tripartite reviews, and in supporting you to plan your learning, with your Academic Lead.

Academic Lead

Academic Leads provide support and guidance to colleagues throughout their career; review progress by conducting 1-1 reviews and the annual PDR. Your Academic Lead will work with you and the Academic Professional Lecturer to align your College-based practice with your assignments on the Academic Professional Programme, using the tripartite reviews to map your learning and progress. Your final tripartite review is the “gateway” review where the Academic Professional Lecturer and the Academic Lead confirm that you are ready to take the End Point Assessment.

Do I have to attend every session?

Yes participants must attend every session, unless there is a compelling and unavoidable reason that means they cannot. In that situation, please liaise with the block lead in advance of the session, so that they are aware of the situation and can help you to catch up.

Do I have to take both Module Delivery Blocks in a single academic year?

An indicative timetable is included in your Programme Handbook, showing both Module Delivery Blocks in the first year. Your timetable will be designed by you, in discussion with your Academic Lead and the AP Lecturer. If you have accumulated enough teaching hours (100) recently enough to take block 2 in the first year of the programme, then we advise that you take both blocks in the same year, however this will depend on the other learning activities and on and off the job training and learning that you choose to focus on. If you haven’t accumulated the 100 hours required to make your application for Fellowship to the HEA, then we advise that you take block 2 in the second year.

What happens if I cannot meet the submission deadline for assignments?

There will be submission deadlines across the 24 month programme, if you cannot meet a submission deadline, please contact the Academic Professional Administrator to discuss your proposed timelines for submitting the assignment(s) and at what point an interruption to studies will become necessary. You should attend all taught sessions before submitting the summative assessment. Full details of assessments are provided in the Programme Handbook. 

Can I interrupt the programme?

Yes it is possible to interrupt the Academic Professional programme, as with other taught programmes. You should contact the Academic Professional Administrator for a discussion in the first instance. 

When will I receive confirmation that I will be awarded PCAP and FHEA?

You will receive a provisional module outcome and detailed feedback immediately after they are marked. However Academic Professional, like any taught programme at the University, is subject to External Examination, and so all assessment outcomes are deemed ‘provisional’ until they are considered through the school- and college-level Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee (APAC), with the External Examiner in attendance. For the Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PCAP), the APAC is held in November each year. Therefore, once the APAC process is complete, you will receive notification that you have been awarded PCAP and the ASPIRE/HEA Fellowship. If you require confirmation of the provisional outcome in writing in advance of the APAC meeting (e.g. to demonstrate completion of PDP), please contact the Academic Professional Administrator.

When will I receive confirmation that I have been awarded a L7 Degree Apprenticeship or have completed the Academic Professional Programme?

The external assessor and internal assessor will confirm the grades shortly after the completion of the End Point Assessment. The End Point Assessment Organisation will confirm that those on the Standard Pathway have achieved a L7 Degree Apprenticeship (Distinction/Pass/Fail), and the Internal Assessment Panel will confirm that those on the Non-Standard Pathway have achieved a Distinction/Pass/Fail in the Academic Professional Programme.

What happens if I fail Academic Professional?

If an assessment does not meet the expected standard for a Pass, clear guidance will be given to the participant by about how the assignment needs to be revised in order to successfully meet the assessment criteria and there will be an opportunity to re-submit. Successful completion of Academic Professional is a probationary requirement for some academics, which requires a Pass in each of the assessments. Therefore if the second submission still does not meet the expected standard, a meeting of the participant, the Programme Director and Head of Discipline will be convened to discuss the next steps; and HR will be kept informed. Normally, in this situation, the participant would be required to re-take the module.

How is excellent performance in Academic Professional assignments recognised and rewarded?

Academic Professional comprises a Degree Apprenticeship with a Distinction/Pass/Fail and PCAP which is a Pass/Fail award but, given the substantial efforts that many participants put into Academic Professional assignments, we are keen to recognise and reward the very best. Therefore in 2015/16 we introduced “Dean’s Commendations”, which are awarded to the highest quality assignments in each module as part of the marking process. The nominations for Dean’s Commendations are received and approved at the Assessment, Progression & Awarding Committee meeting (usually early November each year) and then appear on the participant’s student record. If they have been awarded a Dean’s Commendation, participants are notified by email soon after the APAC meeting. A list of those receiving a Dean’s Commendation is also added to the website, together with a short description of their assignment topics. On the rare occasion that an individual receives a Dean’s Commendation in both modules, the senior team in their College (or equivalent) are notified directly by the Programme Director. As well as the Dean’s Commendations, there is also a webpage called Celebrating Excellence which highlights the achievements of participants who have put their work to ‘a use beyond the assignment’ e.g. as a publication, blog, or teaching resource. We generally hear about these achievements by word of mouth - so please do let us know if you hear of an example that doesn’t yet feature.

Can I use post-nominals on successful completion of Academic Professional?

After successfully completing Academic Professional, we will share the information with the Higher Education Academy, and they will send a Certificate of HEA Fellowship. Once you have received this certificate, you will be entitled to use the post-nominal letters FHEA, as well as PCAP.

Once I have completed Academic Professional, what development opportunities are there for me at Exeter?

As well as Academic Professional, there is a wide range of other academic development opportunities at the University of Exeter, relating to teaching, research and/or management responsibilities at various different levels through Learning and Development. As an Aspire Fellow, Academic Professional alumni will automatically be invited to ASPIRE seminars and related events, and they may wish to work towards Senior Fellow of ASPIRE and the HEA through the ASPIRE professional recognition scheme. It is also possible for Academic Professional participants to continue their studies towards a Master’s degree or Professional Doctorate – for example, Academic Professional is named as a ‘linked programme’ for the MA Education (Professional Learning) and so credits can be used towards this award without applying for Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning. Please contact the Director of Academic Professional in the first instance to explore these options.

I enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018 and still need to submit assignments or take a module; where can I find guidance and information about my programme?

Staff who were enrolled on the PCAP programme prior to September 2018 will continue to follow the version of the programme as set out in the PCAP Programme Handbook . Additional guidance and information can be found in the Original PCAP FAQs relating to the original PCAP programme, and you can download the Module Descriptors for PCAP Module 1 and PCAP Module 2. To book onto a module, or to ask any questions about the programme, please contact the Administrator