Criteria guidelines for Fellowship (Academics)

Guidelines to assist applicants with academic backgrounds.

Criteria for election to Fellowship

These notes are provided to assist applicants with academic backgrounds most likely working in Higher Education Institutions (HEI's - universities, research institutes, or similar organisations). It may be noted that applicants may be from any level in the academic hierarchy, it being necessary only to fulfil the IET Expectation for Fellows. 

The IET Expectation for Fellows is as follows:

“Fellowship of the Institution of Engineering & Technology may be awarded to individuals who have sustained high levels of achievement, for example through leadership, influence, senior responsibility, innovation, and professional service, at the forefront of engineering, technology or cognate disciplines for a period of five years or more. Fellows work within the codes of conduct and ethical obligations of the profession and are strongly encouraged to engage with the many voluntary activities of the Institution”.

The key attributes of successful applicants will be therefore that they can give evidence of “sustained high levels of achievement […] for a period of five years or more”. 

Nine criteria (or measures) are used by Fellow Assessors to judge applications and applicants are encouraged to select the two criteria that reflect their greatest strengths in this regard. These notes concentrate on the interpretation of the criteria in an academic context.

Academic endeavour generally involves a mix of three main constituents: Teaching, Research, and Administration.  However, in these notes it will be more helpful to consider Teaching, Scholarship, and Administration and Management, shorthand terms used here for a variety of activities that will now be delineated.

1. Teaching

Teaching is a fundamental requirement for most academics. New staff are usually required to complete a training course in teaching (often qualification-bearing), and most HEIs will have monitoring and assessment procedures and support facilities in place to assure the quality of teaching. Whilst there is always the possibility of recognising the sustained achievement of the truly outstanding charismatic lecturer (for which criterion 9 Influence & Contribution would be appropriate), being a ‘good presenter’, or giving a ‘good set of notes’ is generally not considered as satisfying the IET Fellow Expectation.

However, there are those who make substantial contributions to the development of pedagogy – for example in formulating new approaches to teaching and assessment, in creating new course structures and utilising new technologies. Such practitioners of what is effectively pedagogic research will thus be able to offer evidence under criterion 4 (Creativity) or criterion 5 (Innovation) and will perhaps be able to cite awards such as National Teaching Fellowships or higher membership of the Higher Education Academy in their application.

2. Scholarship

The term 'scholarship' is used here to indicate an applicant’s engagement with their subject, generally considered as enhancing the teaching profile of an academic unit, and in many cases bearing evidence of high achievement. The most obvious examples of scholarship are as follows:


Original research is typically evidenced by published output in learned journals and at conferences (particularly at international level), invitations to be keynote speakers, conference organising, committee chairs, and journal editors. Applicants may also reflect the status of their activity through the grants and funding they attract; the development of academic research groups with doctoral students, research assistants and post-doctoral fellows; external research degree examining; collaborative arrangements with other institutions; by securing patents and IPR; and with industrial involvement. Again, criterion 4 (Creativity) or criterion 5 (Innovation) are appropriate here.


Many academics engage in consultancy activity - often as individuals, and also sometimes orchestrated through an academic department’s industrial liaison unit or through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP). Clearly, the ‘sustained levels of high achievement’ in the Expectation would preclude consultancy work of a routine nature; however, for extensive specialised expert work at an appropriate level, criterion 3 (Insight & Experience) will be relevant.


Often resulting from the exploitation of successful research, or the development of high-level consultancy expertise, academics frequently set up ‘spin-off’ companies either through their institution or as separate entities. Criterion 5 (Innovation) or criterion 6 (Enterprise) could be relevant in such cases, and KTP activity might be appropriately referenced there.


A record of successful research will often have associated with it the publication of research texts alongside papers in the learned journals and at conferences, and thus this aspect of authorship is effectively covered by the remarks above. However, there are academics that make substantial contributions to their subject by the publication of teaching texts suitable for undergraduate or postgraduate students. Again, ‘sustained levels of high achievement’ would indicate that this would not be a ‘one-off’ pursuit, and success would be indicated by high volume sales over an extended period, with revisions and new editions. Such contributions could be offered under criterion 9 (Influence & Contribution).

3. Administration and Management

Academics often refer to all activities which are not strictly academic pursuits as ‘administration’. However, it is important to differentiate and recognise the distinction between administration as the routine execution of established procedures (examples being ‘timetabling’, ‘admissions’, etc.), and management with its connotations of strategic planning, supervision, resource allocation, and so forth.

Administration, as described here, is not considered an area that would enable recognition of ‘high achievement’ (although, the development of new administrative approaches of profound importance might be considered to be a contributor to success in management). Management, on the other hand, could be recognised through criterion 1 (Leadership) or criterion 2 (Responsibility) in appropriate cases. Examples might be the Dean or Head of a large Faculty, School or Department of Engineering or Research Institute where there are significant numbers of staff, levels of resource, management challenges and budget responsibility devolved from the institution ‘centre’.

The criteria mentioned above, together with others in the list below, provide considerable scope for academic applicants to give evidence of their standing and in particular to provide the evidence of “sustained high levels of achievement [...] for a period of five years or more” mentioned previously. In preparing the application, it is therefore necessary to use fully the opportunity to provide evidence through the 300 word (minimum) to 500 word (maximum) narratives required; note that simple reference to an enclosed Curriculum Vitae will not be acceptable.


You will need to provide two referees who are able to confirm you meet all the criteria for Fellowship.

Each of your referees are required to complete a reference form (included in the Fellow application pack) indicating in the space provided the category or categories from the full list of criteria that they consider demonstrates your suitability for Fellowship of the IET. Should your referees consider you do not meet any of the criteria above but have another reason to justify the award of Fellowship of the IET, they should provide full details.

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