Senior Salford academic named as one of UK’s top teaching innovators

Categories: School of Health and Society

Neil Withnell has just been awarded a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) from Advance HE.

Neil, who is the Associate Dean Academic (Student Experience) for the University of Salford’s School of Health and Society, is one of 55 National Teaching Fellows to be awarded this year. All the winners are acknowledged for their outstanding contribution to excellent teaching and inspiring colleagues in higher education.

As an inspirational leader and mentor of academic colleagues Neil is highly regarded as a leader in creative and digital education.

After working as a qualified mental health nurse, his career in education began when he started training police officers on all aspects of mental health. This led to a role at the University of Salford in 2002, a place where he carved his career and fully immersed himself in coaching, mentoring and empowering students to be the healthcare workforce of the future.

His dynamic teaching style has led to numerous student-nominated awards and international recognition. Neil has been awarded a Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) and is often approached to attend conferences and to contribute to literature on digital and creative education, mental health, and social media.

Alongside his work at the University of Salford, Neil is Chair of the Board of Trustees for a local charity which supports individuals with mental health issues by offering creative arts-based therapies, as well as consulting the Office for Students on student mental health, which is a growing concern.

Neil said: “I am extremely proud and honoured to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship. Receiving an award of this nature would not be possible without the support and collaboration with students and colleagues over many years, I am absolutely delighted.”

Advance HE’s annual National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) scheme and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence (CATE) announcements are widely recognised key indicators of excellence in teaching and learning.

Alison Johns, Chief Executive, Advance HE, said: “Congratulations to all of the new National Teaching Fellows and CATE teams on this prestigious accolade which recognises and rewards their commitment to teaching and learning and the impact it has on student success. 

“It is with great pride that we run these awards for the UK higher education sector designed to celebrate these passionate people who make such a difference to students’ education and to the practice of their colleagues. We look forward to working with the new NTFs and CATE winners and sharing their excellent practice with colleagues around the sector.” 

An independent panel of senior higher education leaders, representing the four UK nations, assures the quality of the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence and recommends winners.  

Professor Becky Huxley-Binns (NTF, PFHEA), Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Hull, and Chair, UK Teaching Excellence Awards Advisory Panel 2023, said: "Every year as we select the NTFS and CATE winners, we are in awe of these extraordinary and gifted people who are teaching with such professionalism, passion and commitment in higher education. This year was no different.

“These awards are incredibly important in recognising and celebrating these people and in sharing 'what works' so that colleagues can build on their expertise too and students can enjoy the benefits of great practice in teaching and learning."

View the full list of 2023 winners of the National Teaching Fellowship.

The 2023 awards ceremony will take place on 28 September at The Library of Birmingham. 

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