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Director of Queen Mary’s Institute of Health Sciences Education awarded prestigious National Teaching Fellowship

Arunthathi (Arundi) Mahendran, Professor of Education and Director of the Institute of Health Sciences Education (IHSE) at Queen Mary University of London, has been distinguished by the award of a National Teaching Fellowship from Advance HE.

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The National Teaching Fellowship (NTF) awards celebrate and recognise academics who have made an outstanding impact on student outcomes, student experience and the teaching profession. Queen Mary has a strong record of its educators being awarded NTFs with 16 Fellows appointed since the scheme’s inception in 2000.  

Arunthathi combines her academic and education research commitments with clinical practice as a Consultant Transplant Surgeon at Barts Health NHS Trust. She is passionate about creating authentic learning experiences for her students that challenge historic and societal assumptions about who can access medical knowledge and healthcare training. Over a 20-year career in medical education and training she has pioneered innovations in teaching and learning that have opened up careers in healthcare to a wider and diverse community of learners. Access to learning through equity of opportunity and inclusive education are at the heart of all her endeavours. 

Her BERA (British Educational Research Association) award-winning research explores the philosophy of practices of thinking, knowing, doing and being across disciplines in professional medical and clinical education. This has garnered her an international reputation as an expert in pedagogies of encounter and affect which have informed the design and delivery of cutting edge medical and surgical education across the world. 

In 2021, she was the recipient of the President and Principal’s Prize for Excellence in Education. In 2022, she became the first woman and person of colour to be appointed as Director of IHSE. As the head of Queen Mary’s medical education, she is spear-heading changes to make medical education more innovative, inclusive and accessible. For example, Queen Mary is the only university to have received a grant from Health Education England (now NHS England) to deliver the UK’s first blended-learning MBBS programme. This programme is a blend of face-to-face, online and digital learning giving students greater flexibility over how, when and where they study. The course was co-designed by the Learning Innovation Team, community partners, IHSE staff and the student body. This programme provides a blueprint for the design of a doctor and physician associate apprenticeship, further widening access to medical education. 

Commenting on her Fellowship, Professor Mahendran said:

“I am hugely humbled and honoured to receive this prestigious award which recognises the importance and value of making education, equitable, accessible and fun! I love teaching our Queen Mary students, helping them to make sense of the complex clinical learning environments they find themselves in. By grappling with these learning experiences, they emerge as brilliant clinicians, innovators and healthcare leaders who transform lives through compassionate person-centred care.” 

Professor Stephanie Marshall, Deputy President and Principal and Vice Principal (Education) at Queen Mary, said:

“I am delighted for Arunthathi for her well-deserved Fellowship. Arunthathi embodies what we believe outstanding teaching looks like and we are grateful that this is reflected throughout her leadership of IHSE.

“These awards are among the most prestigious within higher education. It is a proud moment for Queen Mary that we continue to add to our number of educators who are deemed as the very best in class.”

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