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Advance HE Strategy 2021 - 2024

Helping HE shape its future

We are proud to have a distinctive role helping higher education and research be the best it can be, founded on a deep-rooted partnership with the sector.

We share the values of the sector and understand its unique culture and how this varies within local contexts. Through our convening role and our track record supporting leadership and effective governance, tackling inequalities and in enhancing teaching and learning, our membership continues to grow as does our reach and impact. This is testament to how we use our in depth understanding of HE practice and research, as well as our network of global associates to work in partnership with people, providers and systems around the world to understand contexts and challenges, and provide solutions. Your needs are always at the heart of what we do.

Advance HE Strategy 2021-24 - front cover
Advance HE Strategy 2021-24

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"It is our people and the people we help that really make us who we are."

Alison Johns (Chief Executive) and Stephen Marston (Chair of the Board)
Advance HE

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Explore our strategy

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Setting the context of our strategy

The importance of higher education in supporting society to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow remains vital.

We live in a complex world. Even before the pandemic, higher education and research were navigating seismic change in response to artificial intelligence, the 4th industrial revolution and fundamental shifts in geo-political events. 

HE providers and research institutes – in the contexts of their education systems and governments – provide the leaders, the employees, the thinkers and the essential solutions to needs arising from socio-political change, technological disruption, economic recovery and growth in productivity. The pivot brought on by the pandemic has created scope for positive change to maximise the opportunities of hybrid pedagogy and flexible learning.

We also know there are a range of key issues yet to be fully addressed, including:

  • feedback from our members around the world showed delivering blended, flexible, digitally-optimised learning and teaching, staff and student wellbeing, and fair outcomes as major ongoing concerns and leadership challenges

  • insufficient progress is being made to tackle structural racism and systemic inequalities in HE, creating unacceptable challenges and outcomes for students and colleagues who work in the sector

  • our governance insight shows that institutions need to focus more on strategic development, diversity, inclusion, culture and sustainable development to drive their success.

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Our purpose and our vision

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Advance HE - Vision 720 x 605
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Our strategic goals

In partnership with members and stakeholders, we work to:

  • enhance confidence and trust in higher education

  • address systemic inequalities for staff and students

  • advance education to meet the evolving needs of students and society.

We are here to help you shape your future, supporting you to realise the strategic and cultural change you aspire to.

Six commitments will be used to guide our work to 2024, ensuring we deliver what matters most. We will continue to listen and adapt to the needs of the evolving environment.

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Commitment 1

Delivering strategic change well has never been so important and perhaps so complex. Executive leadership teams, their governing bodies and organisations are seeking to learn from and build on their responses to the pandemic as they reimagine their futures. Whether the focus is on organisation-wide or national system level change, we will use our expertise to help higher education shape its future. Working in close partnership we will support institutions to set new strategic directions and create roadmaps to get there while embedding sustainable development within new ways of working.

We will:

  • support the development of new strategies, sustainable operating models and successful hybrid approaches to all aspects of higher education

  • deliver educational transformation helping institutions and governments review and develop strategy, policy and practice

  • facilitate cultural transformation and the creation of institutions in which people of all identities belong.

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Commitment 2

Changing geo-political forces; adapting to a post-Covid world; increasing competition and the need to build new relationships; all call for a different kind of leadership that builds and sustains inclusion. Confident, capable leaders adapt, grow and diversify their talents, their teams and their institutions to respond to future challenges. We will create pathways to leadership that build a more diverse pool of leaders and enhance the skills and cultural competence of existing and future leaders. 

We will:

  • develop and strengthen individuals’ abilities to create the vision and deliver the strategies that will transform HE for the future

  • support leadership development at all levels that builds and sustains inclusion

  • build on and expand initiatives to diversify the leadership pool.

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Commitment 3

Discrimination in society, institutions and organisations continues to exist. We see growing tensions arising from differing cultural, ethnic and other identities, both on campus and in wider society. With much to be done in universities, colleges and wider society, HE is well placed to offer insights and show leadership in creating the safe, inclusive and respectful environments needed to live, learn and work.

Equipping staff and other stakeholders to take an active role in driving change and sharing successes from a broad range of contexts, we will work to create a global centre for excellence in equality and inclusion in HE, accelerating the rate of change across the sector. 

We will:

  • support institutions and individuals to better understand the nature of racism and how to become anti-racist

  • identify and scale up effective practices to advance equality and enhance dignity, respect and wellbeing for all

  • determine the potential to deliver an integrated equalities charter respecting the diversity of members and their contexts.

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Commitment 4

Across the globe enhancements to the student learning experience have been both disrupted and accelerated by the pandemic. This pivot to hybrid and flexible learning, along with the growth in artificial intelligence and the information revolution continue to create unprecedented drivers for change. Drawing on our connections around the world we will support individuals, institutions and country systems to provide flexible, high quality, digitally-enabled student experiences that prepare learners for success as constructive contributors to the future world.

We will:

  • enable the creation of flexible teaching, learning and assessment strategies that optimise the use of emerging technologies

  • promote inclusive student success strategies that enhance the student experience and outcomes

  • facilitate the revision of the Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in HE.

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Commitment 5

The pace of change in HE has intensified the need for continuous professional learning that gives people the skills, expertise and recognition they need to succeed, whilst also supporting them to connect and collaborate with peers across the world. To respond to this, we will create a new home for digitally-recognised professional learning and development, supporting career development and institutional succession planning.

We will:

  • extend professional recognition and Fellowship schemes for other aspects of HE practice, such as leadership and for EDI practitioners

  • convene a global learning community to support the ongoing engagement and development of Fellows

  • provide flexible, personalised professional development pathways that are digitally-recognised and portable.

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Commitment 6

Good governance is critical to delivering impactful HE and confidence and trust for stakeholders. Yet we know that understanding what is effective in your context is needed more than ever to navigate turbulence and be fit for the future. We will build on our unparalleled track record of supporting and developing governors, governance professionals, institutions and systems of governance across the world. 

We will:

  • provide a foundation for a step change in board diversity and the inclusive culture needed to maximise its impact

  • develop and support agile models of governance that meet the needs of higher education in the 21st Century, including realising the potential of approaches such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles

  • use our connectivity around the world to convene and share insights and innovation for effective governance.

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Our part in shaping a new future for HE

We understand clearly from members and wider stakeholders that you want us to support you to be the best you can be in delivering for students and staff, contributing to sustainable institutions, systems and society.

As our members and partners reimagine their futures we will play our role in helping higher education shape its future. We will do this by helping members deliver successfully on their strategies. Many strategies are strongly aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (especially those of quality education, gender equality and reduced inequalities, and of course education for sustainable development), and so they are integrated into our strategy as well. 

UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Advance HE Strategy
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