National mark of excellence for Chester academic

Posted on 30th August 2017

An academic at the University of Chester has received the most prestigious individual award for teaching in Higher Education (HE).

Dr Ruth Healey, recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship.
Dr Ruth Healey, recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship.

Dr Ruth Healey, from the University’s Department of Geography and International Development, is the fifth recipient of a National Teaching Fellowship at the University.

Dr Healey joins 54 other new National Teaching Fellows (NTFs), who have been announced by the Higher Education Academy (HEA) today (August 31).

The Higher Education Academy is the national body which champions teaching excellence, providing value to the HE sector by focusing on the contribution of teaching as part of the wider student learning experience.

The NTFs were nominated by their institutions and submissions had to show evidence of three criteria: individual excellence, raising the profile of excellence and developing excellence. On gaining the award, each NTF has a role to support the enhancement of learning and teaching in both their institution and the sector.

Dr Ruth Healey is a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography, with research interests in asylum and immigration to the developed world and teaching and learning in higher education. She had an early introduction to teaching and learning when, just after graduating from her undergraduate degree in 2004, she had the opportunity to manage the first International Network for Learning and Teaching (INLT) Geography Symposium in Glasgow.  As the only student in attendance she joined the group working on ‘teaching for social transformations’. This was her introduction to what has since become known as ‘students as partners’, where the practice of partnership aims to position students and staff as active, mutually contributing collaborators in teaching and learning. Ruth’s passion for teaching grew from this point, leading her to undertake every opportunity she could find to develop her teaching during her PhD. This led to her successful application to be an Associate Fellow of the HEA before she submitted her thesis.

Dr Martin Degg, Head of the Department of Geography and International Development at the University, said: “The Department is delighted that Ruth’s hard work and dedication to the student experience has led to the highest recognition from the Higher Education Academy.

Since she started here in 2009, Ruth’s talents have been recognised within the University in a number of ways; she became a Combined Honours Programme Leader just three years later, was invited to contribute to the Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education, was nominated for a Students’ Union ‘Above and Beyond Award’ as an Outstanding Professional Mentor, and was one of the first Senior Fellows of the HEA in the University.  We are delighted to congratulate Ruth on this tremendous achievement.”

Beyond the University of Chester, Ruth was appointed as the youngest ever co-editor of the Journal of Geography in Higher Education in 2009, as External Examiner at the University of Central Lancashire in 2012, and University of South Wales (2013), alongside contributing to five international collaborative writing groups, all of which have resulted in published papers.

In 2016, Ruth became one of the inaugural Editors of the International Journal for Students as Partners. This ethos drives Ruth’s future practice as she seeks to establish further opportunities for students as partners institutionally, nationally and internationally.

Colleagues from other institutions have given evidence about the impact of her work, including Dr Niamh Moore-Cherry from University College Dublin who said: “Ruth is one of the leading innovators of staff-student partnerships within the academy.”

Dr Jenny Hill, National Teaching Fellow at the University of the West of England, added: “Ruth has a trajectory in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL), the likes of which I have not witnessed before.”

Dr Ruth Healey also makes academy history – she joins her father, Professor Mick Healey, making them the first ever daughter/ father National Teaching Fellows. She said: "I am delighted by the award. A National Teaching Fellowship is the top award that a teacher in higher education in the UK can receive and I am honoured to be a recipient.”

HEA Chief Executive, Professor Stephanie Marshall, added: “A National Teaching Fellowship is the most prestigious individual award for excellence in teaching in higher education. These awards represent a fantastic achievement by all 55 new NTFs. I am sure the whole sector joins me in applauding them in their success.

“The new NTFs represent some of the very best teaching in higher education and I am sure they will inspire others as we share their innovative practice and ideas across the sector. The UK is justifiably proud of its higher education sector and its reputation is enhanced by the examples of excellent teaching highlighted by these awards.”

More information about the National Teaching Fellowship can be found at:

For information about the Department of Geography and International Development at the University of Chester, visit:

Notes for Editors

Dr Healey is the second National Teaching Fellow in the Department of Geography and International Development at the University of Chester. Her colleague, Professor Derek France, who is Deputy Head of Department and Professor of Pedagogy in Geographical Sciences, has been a National Teaching Fellow since 2008: