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Governance Effectiveness Projects: Academic Assurance

This is the collaborative project between Advance HE, UUK, CUC and GuildHE which aims to convene the sector to understand shared challenges and approaches to academic assurance.

The Academic Assurance project has been designed to ensure effective academic assurance. This has been driven by the increased need for governors to understand and effectively receive evidence-based assurance about “student outcomes” in England as a requirement from the OfS, but increasingly in other UK Nations as part of their regulatory requirements. 

Governing bodies are expected to actively seek assurances that academic assurance is robust and effective. This becomes ever-more important with the political interest in issues surrounding quality in higher education and ensuring value for money for public expenditure. 

As sector partners we undertook a first phase of work in 2022-23 that saw us conduct roundtables with governance professionals; senate and student members of the board and Chairs of Audit and Risk Committees. The learning from these webinars was shared back with the sector in a webinar.

Phase 1 - Project Outputs

Explore the outputs from Phase 1 of the project.

Find out more


In 2023-24, we have all committed to Phase 2 of the Academic Assurance project. We will be working with key representatives across the HE sector to develop a series of key reflective questions that governing bodies can use to test and further develop their own academic assurance. We will also be commissioning a series of case studies that will highlight different practices higher education institutions have undertaken to improve academic assurance as part of our commitment to connecting the higher education sector.  

Academic Assurance project partners logos
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Phase 1 - Project Outputs

The activity contained within this member project for Phase 1 includes blogs, webinars and dissemination events where the project theme can be examined.

News Article

Academic Assurance: phase one summary

The first phase of the project has provided the opportunity to convene the sector to explore emerging practices in academic governance and assurance within the higher education sector.
Read the article

Dissemination Event

In March 2023, Advance HE, Universities UK, Guild HE, and the Committee of University Chairs held three roundtables with Governance professionals, Senate and Student representatives, and Chairs and Deputies of Audit and Risk Committees to examine approaches to academic assurance. At the Dissemination Event, we presented the roundtable findings from the round table and discussed these with a panel of sector experts and representatives. 

Access the slides
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Phase 2 - Project Outputs

Project output - Guide

Academic Assurance Reflective Questions Guide

A brief guidance resource for use by governing bodies and governance professionals to be undertaken as part of any self-assessment work or continual improvement. The questions are designed to help institutions start reflecting on their own processes and practises. 

Find out more

Project Output - Case Studies

Academic Assurance Case Studies 

The series of case studies are designed in this project output to support higher education institution governing bodies with innovating their own practice in academic assurance.

The first in the series, the case study from Buckinghamshire New University looks at how they went about mapping all of their academic assurance data sources, giving them a fuller understanding of the academic work taking place across the institution.

More case studies will be available soon to showcase innovation across key areas of academic assurance.

Read the first case study
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Project Team

Deputy Chief Executive
Alex Bols profile.png
Alex is Deputy Chief Executive at GuildHE representing over 60 smaller and specialist universities and colleges. He observes Advance HE Boards (having previously observed the QAA and HEA boards) and sits on the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment and HEFCW Quality Assessment Committee.

Policy Researcher
Universities UK
Rowan Fisher
Rowan is a Policy Researcher working at Universities UK. He spends his time researching policy and supporting the sector to take collective action on the issues of the day. He is a school governor and recently completed an MA in Policy Studies in Education from University College London.

Head of Governance & Consulting
Advance HE
Dr Colette Fletcher
Colette joined Advance HE in May 2023. As the Head of Governance & Consulting, she is now responsible for leading Advance HE’s existing governance advisory portfolio and developing the wider consultancy business. She is passionate about advising and supporting senior leaders in UK HE on governance and other critical issues and supporting the boards of higher education providers to be as effective as possible.

CUC Secretary
Advance HE
John Rushforth
John is a nationally recognised expert on UK University governance. He is responsible for the key documents that underpin the governance of all publicly funded UK HE institutions namely the CUC HE Code of Governance, the HE Senior Staff Remuneration Code, a range of illustrative practice notes e.g. Academic Assurance, Recruitment of VCs, etc and a Leadership Foundation publication on the relationship between Vice Chancellors and Chairs.

Governance Development Manager
Advance HE
Dan Tinkler
Dan joined Advance HE in January 2020 and has been in the post of Governance Development Manager since October 2021. Dan works on developing our approach to supporting Advance HE’s member needs across our governance portfolio of work.
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Resources and Related Events

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An Advance HE member benefit

Member Projects are part of Advance HE's member benefits for the 2022-23 membership year. Click below to see the full range of benefits available.

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