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Fellowship programme transforms Thai institution

Student retention at a Thai university has increased by 30% since they started working on developing and recognising their teaching staff.

Walailak University (WU) started working with Advance HE in 2018 and are now supporting a fourth cohort of staff taking the Certificate of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (CLTHE). 60 academics have taken part in each iteration of the programme, and after each cohort participants apply for recognition of their teaching by applying for HEA Fellowship. WU now has an impressive 94 teaching Fellows, including 31 Senior Fellows. Thailand as a whole has the sixth largest number of Fellows in the world outside the UK, with 276 in total.

WU has seen remarkable improvements in their teaching since beginning the programme, with an increase of 30% in student retention and 93% of teaching staff being rated at 4/5 or better by their students.

They have also developed informal communities for learning and teaching at the institution, including launching its own Professional Skills Framework (PSF) club for its Fellows to discuss teaching.

Associate Professor Dr. Surin Maisrikrod, the Vice President for Global Engagement and Faculty Development at WU, has noted the change in culture at the university.

“There is now a culture of teaching at Walailak University. Before this work, staff did not talk about teaching, whereas now you can hear them discussing their teaching in everyday conversations. Student learning is at the heart of all our work.”

Kathy Wright, Assistant Director of Knowledge, Innovation and Delivery at Advance HE and co-leader of the programme alongside Andy Hudson said: “It has been a pleasure to work with such a large group of staff at Wailailak University over the last three years.

"The participants in the programme have embraced new pedagogic ideas and practices shared in the programme, and have been fantastic at evaluating their work and sharing their successes with colleagues.

“Each participant in the programme has taken part in an action research group project, and the posters produced in these projects have been outstanding in their quality. I am delighted that so many WU staff have now been awarded Fellowship, and look forward to more being successful in future.”

WU has benefitted from strong senior leadership, which has pushed hard for participants of the CLTHE to apply for Fellowship. Professor Sombat, President of WU, has encouraged all participants to apply for Fellowship, while their chairman, Dr Wichit (also chairman of Suranaree University of Technology and Sukothai Thammathirat Open University), recently became the first Principal Fellow in Thailand.

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