The 16/17 academic year has been packed with plenty of reasons for me to celebrate professional development as I successfully completed my PhD and received Senior Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).
I truly believe that it is fundamentally important for universities to create a supportive environment in which academics are encouraged to positively influence their surroundings, learn and develop themselves both individually and with their colleagues. I have been very fortunate in having the opportunity to become an ‘agent of change’ as, from 2012 to 2016, I was able to pursue a PhD at the University of Reading thanks to UCA’s Professional Qualification funding, which supported my professional development and directly fed into my work at UCA. My PhD thesis sought to explore how international postgraduate students and university staff dealing with international students take advantage of the opportunities and tackle the challenges that globalisation and internationalisation bring to the landscape of HE in the UK.
My PhD journey has transformed my own and my team’s practice as I effectively investigated, reflected on and identified wonderful examples of internationalised pedagogy and curriculum practices across UCA and externally. The thesis concluded with implications for academic debate, policy development and practice within UCA and other HE institutions more broadly.
Applying for the fellowship has also been an empowering process, allowing me to analyse and reflect on the achievements of the courses taught by my team. This has, in turn, enabled me to support colleagues at UCA and beyond by sharing my expertise in internationalisation and best practice in coordinating a successful language provision in a creative arts context. Writing up the SFHEA application also reiterated the significance of the reflective process.
Throughout my career at UCA, I have actively taken part in shaping the university internationalisation strategy by making sense of the institutional vision and culture in order to support comprehensive internationalisation. I believe that all these amazing opportunities have enabled me to become a ‘change agent’ through enhancing the university’s ability to change and foster a collaborative global learning environment for all. It is my hope that these efforts have made a contribution to our students’ journeys of linking continents and bridging cultures. I strongly believe that through my work and by collaborating with others, as a collective, we have created a meaningful, creative and safe learning environment which enables students to thrive as global citizens.
I would like to thank UCA and my International Pathway Programmes team for their constant support in enabling me invest in my continual professional development.
And lastly – if you are new to teaching at UCA, or if you are you not sure how to take advantage of your international students to make your course curriculum more global, then please get in touch! I welcome opportunities for collaboration, knowledge sharing and mentoring.
Check out my blog to find out more details about my work: www.tomaszjohn.wordpress.com
Or follow me on Twitter: @tomaszjohn84