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Helping HE shape its future

We work with higher education institutions around the world to improve higher education for staff, students and society.

Advance HE is a member-led charity of and for the sector that works with partners across the globe to improve higher education for staff, students and society. 

Our three strategic goals support the priorities of our members and of the higher education sector:

  • Enhance confidence and trust in HE
  • Address systemic inequalities and advance education to meet the evolving needs of students and society
  • Support the work of our members and the HE sector.

We are experts in higher education, with a particular focus on teaching and learning, governance, leadership development and equality, diversity and inclusion. We work with our network of global associates and partners, and with people, providers and systems around the world, to understand different contexts and challenges in the higher education sector, and to deliver solutions. 

We deliver our support through a variety of channels, applying our expertise and sharing best practice. These include professional development programmes, events, fellowships, awards, surveys as well as consultancy and enhancement services. 

In addition, our membership provides a range of research, knowledge and resources for members, as well as accreditation for teaching and learning and equality charters that aim to advance gender and race equality in higher education and research.

Our purpose

We help higher education organisations be the best they can be by unlocking the potential of their people.

We are from the sector, not for profit and our work is driven by our belief in the transformative power of higher education for people, places, and society.

Our vision 

Higher education providers and systems that are inclusive, sustainable and high-performing in all they do.

Advance HE Strategy 2021-24

There are many challenges facing institutions and research institutes and how we support members in this context has rightly informed the development of our strategy to 2024.

Please take an opportunity to explore our strategy by visiting our new strategy web page.


Explore our strategy
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Meet Advance HE

The Chair of the Board of Advance HE

Professor Mark E. Smith is the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton.  As President and Vice-Chancellor he is the Chief Executive of the University and has overall responsibility for its operations.  He took up this role on 1 October 2019. Professor Smith was Vice-Chancellor at Lancaster University from January 2012 until September 2019.  He was previously Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick.

Throughout his academic career, he has published more than 380 papers about advanced magnetic resonance techniques, helping to understand a range of problems in the field of materials physics.  He is currently a member of the executive group overseeing the National High Field Solid-State NMR Facility at the University of Warwick.

In addition to his role as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Southampton, he holds a number of external appointments including Senior Independent Member of UKRI EPSRC’s Council; and board member of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, chairing their Research Wales Committee. He also chairs UKRI’s Financial Sustainability of Research Group and was the former Chair of the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) 2016-2022. He has also served on the Boards of Jisc, HESA and HESCU.

He was awarded a CBE for Services to Research and Higher Education in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Advance HE Board
Professor Mark E Smith

Chief Executive of Advance HE

Alison Johns was appointed chief executive of Advance HE in autumn 2017.

Prior to that she was the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation. She has worked in higher education for 25 years. 

Before becoming chief executive, she was head of policy for leadership, governance and management at the Hefce (now the Office for Students), where she established both the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit. 

She is a past president of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) and represents the UK on the Association of Commonwealth Universities Human Resources Management Network and has recently joined the British Council’s planning committee for Going Global, the major international higher education conference. 

Alison has extensive international experience of higher education including leading the review of teaching and learning for the Australian government. This led to the establishment of the Office for Learning and Teaching to enhance teaching quality across the Australian higher education sector. Alison regularly takes part in conferences and events, both nationally and internationally, speaking on all aspects of university leadership, governance and management.

The Executive Group
Alison Johns

More about Advance HE

Our Charitable Objective

Our overarching charitable objective is to promote higher education for the public benefit detailed further in our articles of association.

Advance HE Articles of Association

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2022-23

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2021-22

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2020-21

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2019-20

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2018-19

Advance HE Statutory Accounts 2017-18


The UK registered office of Advance HE is:

Innovation Way, York Science Park, Heslington, York, YO10 5BR

The registered Ireland address of Advance HE is:

First Floor, Penrose 1, Penrose Dock, Cork, T23 KW81, Ireland

Operational Addresses:

Advance HE First floor, Napier House, 24 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6AZ  

Advance HE IC 2.12 Innovation Centre, Innovation Way, York Science Park, York YO10 5DG


Company registration: 04931031

Company limited by guarantee registered in Ireland no. 703150

Registered charity, England and Wales:1101607

Registered charity, Scotland: SC043946.