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Karen Fraser

Staff photo of Karen Fraser

Karen Fraser PFHEA


I applied for PFHEA in 2015.  I had just moved to Queen’s University in Belfast, as an educational developer. 

I started my academic life as a teaching fellow in the School of Computing and Mathematics at Ulster, whilst also working for the Information and Computer Science HEA Subject Centre. I had classes of around 200 students in first- and second-year computing degrees.  I loved teaching and got great module feedback; it was a constant source of irritation to a senior member of the faculty that my research was exclusively focused on how students learned.  He considered pedagogic research a hobby! 

I spent seven years doing both jobs before moving to the Higher Education Academy full-time in 2011 – 2015, as an academic consultant.  I spent my weeks travelling around the UK delivering workshops on everything from introduction to teaching to giving feedback to students to cybersecurity to using Web 2.0 in teaching, it was a whole new world and exciting. 

When asked to reflect on “what does being a Principal Fellow mean to you?” Karen answered:

One of my major concerns about applying for PFHEA was asking colleagues for a reference, classic imposter syndrome. I used a scattergun approach and emailed about 2 dozen people. Every single one offered to write a reference for me. I have never felt more of our academic community or had more faith in myself when I read what they wrote.  I cannot have had that much fun and been of value, to what I saw as our community, I was wrong. I am still having fun but PFHEA has underpinned, to me, my value and impact on the practice of both colleagues and institutions.