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Student Engagement Conference 2021

Board Diversity Practice Project

Collating, understanding and sharing members’ practice to deliver on board diversity in Higher Education and Research Institutes

Advance HE Collaborative Development Fund

Advance HE is dedicated to supporting the development of our members based on sector needs, and provides funding to help enable this. Previously, funding had been in the form of our Small Development Projects (SDPs), which were launched in 2004 and more recently, our Good Practice Grants.

For the 2020-21 member benefit year, funding will be available to our global membership base in the form of our Collaborative Development Fund, which aims to harness the knowledge, experience and innovative capabilities of our members in order to address current challenges within the HE sector.

We invited our colleagues at member institutions to apply for the funding of between £20,000 and £35,000 per project, with projects starting in February 2021. 

The University of Gloucestershire has been awarded funding for this project, in collaboration with Perrett Laver.

The Collaborative Development Fund is an Advance HE member benefit and is open to colleagues at Advance HE member institutions. 

Find out more about Advance HE membership

Board Diversity Practice Project - Collating, understanding and sharing members’ practice to deliver on board diversity in Higher Education and Research Institutes

We know that the diversity of HE and Research Institute governing bodies in all forms remains a key challenge (Diversity of HE Governing Bodies in the UK Report, 2020). HE and Research Institute governing bodies simply do not reflect the diversity of thought and backgrounds that exist in our societies, the students we teach or the staff we hire.

We also know that all our members, regardless of their constitution, are facing significant ongoing disruption to their strategies and plans, not least from Covid-19, as well as challenge around their meaningful delivery of commitments to EDI at all levels in the wake of movements such as Black Lives Matter drawing further attention to racial inequality. Addressing these challenges requires excellent governance informed by the full range of perspectives and experiences to avoid ‘groupthink’ and to challenge, innovate and sustain success.

This project aims to collate, understand and share members’ practice to deliver on board diversity via the sharing of practice and lessons learned from members’ attempts to diversify their boards. This will provide an evidence base for members, potential solutions through an easily-accessible bank of case-studies, and identification of priorities for areas still to address.

The Board Diversity Practice Project is running in collaboration with the international executive search firm Perrett Laver, whose involvement has enabled us to widen the scope of the research and maximise its benefit to Advance HE members and the sector.

Perrett Laver

The Higher Education Board Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit

Developed in partnership with Advance HE, Perrett Laver and the University of Gloucestershire, this Toolkit is designed to help member institutions to improve the diversity and inclusivity of their governing bodies, whether as a Secretary, Chair of Governors, Governance and Nominations Committee member, or anyone interested in tackling under-representation and aiming for inclusion at the Board level in the higher education sector.

The Toolkit launch webinar took place on Tuesday 2 November 2021. The webinar recording provides more detail on the content and context of the project and is available to Advance HE members. 

Download Toolkit

Additional projects

As part of our Collaborative Development Fund, during the 2020-21 membership year, we are also running two additional projects:

Developing flexible ecosystems for education that support student success: where are we now, what works and where next?

This project aims to review the higher education sector’s capacity for flexible provision to identify exemplars of the requisite infrastructure, strategies and enabling technologies that support equitable transitions through learning and work and identify priority areas to be addressed by Advance HE or providers.

Find out more
Developing Flexible Ecosytems Project

The reshaping of higher education and research institute strategy and culture: pandemic perturbations, evolution or revolution?

The central question for this generative project will be ‘how have the strategies of higher education institutions and research institutes changed as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic?’ The inquiry/research goal will be to review the range of radical changes to institutional strategies (and strategic thinking) brought about so far by the pandemic, and hand-in-hand with this the transformation of organisational cultures.

Find out more
The reshaping of Higher Education and Research Institute strategy and culture project