Just before Christmas I received the great news that I had successfully passed all elements of the programme and had qualified for the AUA award of Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership!
The first year of the course focussed on developing knowledge of the sector and the impact of current issues on my own professional practice, and I wrote about this in a previous blog post.
The second year focussed on demonstrating my own professional development and engagement with the AUA’s Values and the Professional Behaviours – which are already familiar to us as these are embedded into aspects of our staff development here at Bath.
I was required to develop a Personal development Plan (PDP) collect a portfolio of evidence to show my development over the course of the programme and write a reflective piece on my progress. It was helpful having had experience of our SDPR+ process, particularly as this is draws on the AUA’s effective behaviours, and my SDPR+ supported aspects of my AUA PDP and vice versa.
The second year commenced with a study day (the third and final one of the programme) which I found helpful in setting out the expectations for the year, but perhaps more importantly it really helped motivate me for another year of independent study.
The focus of the programme on your own professional practice was a definite strength of the course. There is a lot of flexibility so that you can choose to focus the knowledge assignments (which made up the first year of the course) on your own areas of interest. However this aspect also proved a challenge in the second year. Because the learning was driven from my own personal development priorities and goals, I did struggle initially as I found it difficult knowing if my goals were appropriate. Talking things through with Clare Henderson - who completed the course a few years ago - helped me to realise that the PDP is a very personal document and if they are yours, then your goals will be appropriate! As part of the course support, all participants are assigned a mentor and mine helped me to ensure that my goals included an appropriate level of challenge as well.
I began the PG Cert. as a way of developing my knowledge of HE, and I have definitely gained more explicit knowledge of the systems, processes and current issues affecting HE. However, I feel that I have achieved much more than this.
I am now much more able to recognise development opportunities within my own professional practice and much more likely to act on these. When I attend training courses for example, I make sure that I always have a ‘take-away’ from the experience – even if it is just to report back to my team to share information with them. To help develop reflective practice, I started keeping a learning journal which has been really useful in helping me to identify specific learning from situations and to push me into implementing that learning in practical ways.
The process of PDP planning and reviewing my progress helped me to recognise my strengths and given me the confidence to utilize these. It also challenged me to either develop areas where I’m not so strong or to work with others to so that between us, we can deliver a full complement of skills. It also encouraged me to engage beyond my current role – by getting involved with the AUA at Bath and acting as an assessor for The Bath Award, for example.
I’m really pleased that I have completed the programme – which was quite an achievement going back to formal academic study after so many years. And as a graduate of the AUA PgCert programme you automatically meet the criteria to become an Accredited Member of the AUA – can add those letters after name to your email signature!
I will finally graduate at the AUA conference in a few weeks’ time – the short ceremony is part of one of the first sessions, but will continue to seek opportunities to develop my understanding and knowledge of HE and my skills set.
Happy to talk to anyone interested in the programme – which now can be completed in one rather than two years!