thumbnail Teaching excellence at Newcastle University

Dr Robin Humphrey and Dr Tom Joyce have both won a prestigious National Teaching Fellowship for excellence in teaching and learning.

Robin Humphrey, Director of the postgraduate training programme in HASS, and Tom Joyce Reader in Biotribology, School of Mechanical and Systems Engineering, are two of just 50 lecturers and learning support staff from across the country to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship from the Higher Education Academy.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) recognises and rewards individual excellence in teaching in higher education in England and Northern Ireland. 

Robin has emerged as an enthusiatic leader in the field of postgraduate education and a passionate advocate of the development of the next generation of researchers. He is personally responsible for the instigation, development and ongoing management of the successful postgraduate research training programme which allows students the flexibility to tailor it to their research interests.

Through his work with colleagues on the research programme, membership of the ReCap Steering group, and his use of technology, Robin puts into practice the values which underpin his teaching. He is widely recognised throughout Europe for his contribution to research and practice in postgraduate education, including his contributions to the European Universities Association doctoral programs project.

"I am absolutely thrilled and feel very proud to receive this award," he said. "I know in acceptance speeches it is customary to thank others, but it is absolutely necessary in this case, as my application was based on a research training programme to which over 50 colleagues contribute. So, my profound thanks to them, and to the research students from all over the world who make each day such a rewarding experience."

Throughout his career, Tom (pictured) has been engaged in developing a range of teaching initiatives which have been recognised as giving his students a strong sense of their own development as professional engineers. National recognition of his work has included the Exxon Mobile Excellence in Teaching award in 2009, and being shortlisted for the 2010 teaching award of the Higher Education Engineering Subject Centre.

He believes passionately in the development of the next generation of engineers, and his hugely successful work with students recognises their diversity and develops their confidence, professional skills and employability. He is committed to the student learning experience, asking for informal feedback continuously throughout the modules, acting on this immediately where possible, and letting students know what has been done. He has championed the use of feedback to enhance teaching within the school and more widely within the University.

"I feel incredibly honoured, on behalf of my School and University, to be awarded this national teaching fellowship," he said. "Engineering is a wonderful, dynamic, exciting and positive subject and it is with this passionate belief that I try and enthuse my students.  It is humbling to be recognised nationally for the teaching I am involved in and speaks volumes for the creativity, eagerness and hard work of the students I have the pleasure to work with.“

Deputy-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ella Ritchie welcomes the National Teaching Fellowships. “Robin’s and Tom’s excellent work has been recognised by these awards," she said.  "Their commitment to the student learning experience, both undergraduate and postgraduate, is inspiring to all of us in the University.

"The continued success of Newcastle staff in this prestigious national scheme highlights the strength and quality of our learning and teaching,” she added.

The £10,000 award may be used for Fellows' personal and/or professional development in teaching and learning.


published on: 28th July 2011

Key Facts:

  • Newcastle University is a Russell Group University
  • We rank in the top 20 of UK universities in The Sunday Times 2013 University Guide and in the 2015 Complete University Guide
  • Amongst our peers Newcastle is:
    • 5th in the UK for graduates into jobs (HESA 2011-12)
    • 10th in the UK for student satisfaction
    • Ranked 8th in the UK for Medical research power
    • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) top 20 strategic partner
  • 95% of our students are in a job or further training within six months of graduating
  • We have a world-class reputation for research excellence and are spearheading three major societal challenges that have a significant impact on global society. These themes are: Ageing, Sustainability, and Social Renewal
  • Newcastle University is the first UK university to establish a fully owned international branch campus for medicine at its NUMed Campus in Malaysia which opened in 2011
  • We get a 92% satisfaction rating from our international students (ISB 2013)