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

Dr Ruth Healey, from the 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).

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 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.

Her 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.

Head of the Department of Geography and International Development at the University, Dr Martin Degg, 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.”