Double success in national Fellowship Awards

Teaching Fellowship Awards
Pictured: (L) Odette Hutchinson; (R) Professor Helen Higson

12 June 2014

Aston University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor and a Senior Lecturer in Law have been awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowships by the Higher Education Academy.

Professor Helen Higson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Odette Hutchinson, were presented with the awards today (12 June).

The National Teaching Fellowships (NTFs) are the most prestigious awards for excellence in higher education teaching and support for learning, with only 55 NTFs per year selected from education institutions across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Each will receive an award of £10,000 which will be used to support their professional development in teaching and learning or aspects of pedagogy. 

Successful nominees were nominated by their institutions and submissions had to show evidence of three criteria: individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence. 

Professor Helen Higson has worked in higher education since 1983, first at Southampton University and then at Aston University where she is currently Deputy Vice-Chancellor. She leads on learning and teaching, quality assurance, outreach and schools liaison, student planning and support, as well as employability. 

Helen’s previous role was as Head of Learning and Teaching at Aston Business School, where she remains Professor of Higher Education Learning and Management. Her research interests are in intercultural and employability competences, and the effects of placement learning.   

Helen co-coordinates the Society of Research in Higher Education special interest group on employability, enterprise and work-based learning and is an active member of the Association of Sandwich Education and Training (ASET) research group. Her work on the effect of integrated work experience on academic performance and employability has influenced national policy. 

She contributed to the 2012 Review of University-Business Collaboration by Professor Sir Tim Wilson. Among interesting projects she is leading at the moment are a cross-West Midlands graduate internship programme placing graduates into small and medium enterprises (SMEs), a cross-Birmingham scheme to encourage students and graduates to set up their own businesses, and a pan-European seventh framework programme for research and technological development (EU FP7) project developing innovative practice for young people in cities. 

Helen is a Fellow of the Royal Society, a Principal Fellow of the HEA and a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators, and she was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year’s Honours. 

Odette Hutchinson is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Learning and Teaching at Aston Business School. She has teaching interests in criminal law, business ethics and learning and teaching innovation. Over the last ten years she has had a significant impact on the quality of legal education at an institutional, national and international level.  

In 2010, in recognition of her innovative teaching and its transformative impact on the student experience, Odette received an Innovation and Inspiration Award from Aston Business School (ABS). A year later in recognition of her outstanding contribution to learning and teaching, she received the Aston Excellence Award for Outstanding Teacher of the Year.  In 2013 Odette was a finalist in the Association of Law Teachers, Teaching Law with Technology Award.  In 2013 she was awarded the prestigious Law Teacher of the Year Award, a national award that recognises outstanding contributions to legal education. 

Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “Each year I look forward with great anticipation to the announcement of our new National Teaching Fellows.  It is always such an inspirational time as we welcome 55 outstanding teachers in higher education to our growing family of NTFs. This year is no exception. 

“While their fields of expertise are many and varied, what they each hold in common is their commitment to learning and teaching, their dedication to their students, and their tenacity in sharing their expertise with others. 

“Our students deserve the best possible learning experience and it is colleagues like those we celebrate today who can make a real difference to their futures. I congratulate all the successful Fellows and wish them every success in their own learning and teaching experiences.” 

The successful candidates will receive their awards at an official ceremony in October. 


Notes to Editors: 

The National Teaching Fellowship scheme is funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, and is open to staff whose teaching or support roles enhance the student learning experience at institutions in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. 

This year’s NTFs include academics from a diverse discipline range including Chemistry, Engineering, the Arts, Languages, Maths, Nursing, Education and Psychology. They also include learning enhancement specialists who work across the disciplines to develop innovative approaches to learning and teaching. 

Along with the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme, the HEA’s work in teacher excellence includes the accreditation of institution's professional development programmes and individual recognition for staff who meet the criteria of the UK Professional Standards Framework. 

For further media information contact Alex Earnshaw, Aston University Communications on 0121 204 4549 or