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Advance HE Membership Team

Our Membership Team work to ensure our members' needs are met, liaising directly with institution contacts to provide help, guidance and information on all aspects of Advance HE membership and services.

We are proud to have a distinctive role helping higher education be the best it can be worldwide, 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.

To help us form and deliver our support our Membership Team are vital. Below you will find a profile and direct contact for each member of the team. 

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Nick Skeet

Director of Membership

Nick has over 25 years of rich experience in understanding institutional needs and leading the development of solutions that drive enhancement in practice, systems, culture change and high-performing teams. Nick leads the work supporting member institutions in addressing their contemporary challenges relating to teaching practice, student experience, leadership in all its forms and creating inclusive places to work and study.

Prior to the formation of Advance HE, Nick was with the HEA following a varied career in the civil service and sector skills arena as a Director leading large-scale professional development programmes and work delivering organisation or system-wide HR, OD and change management projects. Currently, Nick is leading work to enhance the relevance, value, accessibility and demonstrable impact of Advance HE member benefit activity delivered throughout the year.

Contact Nick
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Michael Parker

Assistant Director - Strategic Partnerships

Michael is Assistant Director, Strategic Partnerships at Advance HE overseeing key relationships that allow us to deliver on our mission and provide the best services to our members through collaboration. He also works directly with member institutions in the North of England and the US to support them in enhancing teaching and learning, approaches to leadership and governance, and equality, diversity and inclusion. Michael has been with Advance HE for over 6 years and has worked with over 80 Higher Education Institutions, across mission group, including public universities, small and specialists, independent providers and college-based providers. Michael works with institutions to support their enhancement activities ranging from professional development support and training, to curriculum design and innovation, specific learning and teaching themes, leadership and governance, and equality, diversity and inclusion.

Contact Michael
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Ian Hall

Head of Membership - International 

Ian joined Advance HE (as the HEA) in April 2016 and is Head of International Membership. Ian supports higher education providers across the world to engage with Advance HE’s membership, with particular experience in learning and teaching enhancement, Fellowship and accreditation.

Ian also works with national governments, ministries and other agencies across the world to support developmental projects across a range of Advance HE’s activity. Ian has a keen interest in digital learning, having previously worked for an e-Learning provider and supported a range of online and mobile learning projects. Before joining Advance HE, Ian worked for a higher education institution in a professional services role. Ian is an Advance HE Associate Fellow.

Contact Ian
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Jenny Tester

Head of Membership - England and International

Jenny is currently Head of Membership at Advance HE. She supports members in England and internationally including in Europe and Australia. Jenny brings experience supporting members globally on a wide range of topics including professional recognition, the diversity of governing boards in higher education and leadership development.

Contact Jenny
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Joni Alexander

Head of Membership - Wales

Joni is Head of Membership for Wales, supporting universities and colleges to shape the future of tertiary education. Most recently, Joni led NUS Wales and NUS-USI (Northern Ireland) as director. Originally from Oklahoma, she worked as a journalist in the USA and then the UK after studying at Cardiff University (MA International Journalism, 2009).  

Contact Joni
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Lucy Madahar

Head of Membership - England

Lucy is a Head of Membership at Advance HE, managing business and member relationships with universities throughout England, in order to develop insight into universities’ needs and challenges and to propose solutions which enable HE members deliver their strategies and priorities.

Lucy has worked in a number of university-business roles for over 29 years, delivering nationally and internationally acclaimed sector-leading and award winning services in relation to careers and employability, mentoring and coaching services, inclusion and wellbeing, curriculum development, web-based/virtual learning environments, stakeholder engagement, personal and professional development and business development. Lucy has extensive experience of delivering complex educational provision to students and staff within a continually evolving UK higher education sector.

Lucy has worked with a number of UK universities, each with their own culture and set of core values and has always been dedicated to improving social mobility, inclusivity, retention and achievement and empowering students to make informed choices regarding their on-going personal and professional development. Lucy holds degrees in psychology, human resource development and business administration and is a “Managing Successful Programmes” practitioner, as well as a qualified NLP Business Practitioner.

Contact Lucy
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Melvyn Smith

Head of Membership - England

Melvyn is a Head of Membership at Advance HE, supporting university members in England and our research institute members across the UK. He has worked as a teacher, senior manager and partnership manager in higher and further education for more than 35 years. His experience ranges from managing adult literacy provision, education opportunities for mental health service users and student services directorates to delivering pre-deployment training contracts for the British Army.

For the last 15 years Melvyn has worked in partnership development roles with the QAA, the Higher Education Academy and the British Computer Society. He has worked as a teacher in The Sudan and set up training centres in Libya, Iraq and Sri Lanka. The first in his family to attend university Melvyn has a degree in African Studies and a Masters in Education. He is committed to social mobility and social inclusion.

Contact Melvyn
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Rachel Witton

Head of Membership - England

Rachel is a Head of Membership at Advance HE, supporting a group of member institutions in England. Drawing on different strands of experience through her career, Rachel has particular interest in inclusive leadership in higher education.

Rachel joined Advance HE in September 2020 from Imperial College London, where she worked in the office of the Vice-Provost (Education). Prior to this, Rachel was a Partner at the search firm Perrett Laver, leading on searches at professorial level in the UK and the Nordics. Rachel began her career teaching languages in the UK and abroad, and in online learning for a development education charity. She holds a BA in French, German and Spanish, a PGCE in secondary languages, and an MA in global learning and development education.

Contact Rachel
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Laura Coutts

Head of Membership - Scotland and Northern Ireland

Laura joined Advance HE in March 2022 as Head of Membership supporting member colleges and Universities in Scotland and Northern Ireland. In her previous role as Senior Director of University Partnerships with CEG Digital, she specialised in the implementation, launch and delivery of online programmes with a host of UK partner universities.

Prior to this, Laura spent more than a decade at the University of Stirling in a number of Registry roles including Student Records and Immigration and has particular interests in online learning, inclusivity, retention and the continuous improvement of the student experience.  Laura holds a BA (Hons) in History and an MPhil in Historical Research.

Contact Laura
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Tonya Watts

Head of Membership - Republic of Ireland

Tonya is Head of Membership for Ireland at Advance HE, working directly with institutions in Ireland to support them in their development and enhancement goals. She brings experience in the Irish sector having worked for over 7 years in Irish higher education. Prior to this role, she was an EDI Project Manager developing and embedding EDI initiatives including gender equality action plans, employee resource groups, and bespoke training. 

With experience working collaboratively across the Irish sector, Tonya is interested in helping institutions find solutions and pathways to improved governance, leadership, teaching and learning, and EDI. Tonya holds an MA in Ethics, Culture, and Global Change and various certificates in training, project management, and leadership. She currently lives on the west coast of Ireland.

Contact Tonya
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Daniel Tinkler

Governance Development Manager

Daniel joined Advance HE in January 2020. He works specifically with College Based HE, small and specialists and independent providers in England supporting across all aspects of Advance HE membership helping increase engagement and value. This includes working with leadership teams and identifying how Advance HE can help deliver strategy or where we can work in partnership to create solutions.

Daniel has a keen interest in student engagement and experience and working in partnership with students to deliver quality outputs leading to high impact. Before joining Advance HE Daniel worked in multiple student facing roles in varying students’ unions. Outside of Advance HE Daniel serves as an External Trustee at Marjon Student Union where he is currently Vice-Chair and also holds the acclaim of being UK Rock Paper Scissors Champion 2014.

Contact Daniel
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Hannah Cook

Membership Executive - Affiliate Members

Hannah joined Advance HE in April 2021 within the Membership Services Team as a Coordinator, after completing her undergraduate study in Education Studies & English Language BA (Hons). Currently, she is the Membership Executive and works to support the Advance HE Membership Manager with College based HE, small and specialists and independent providers in England, to help increase engagement and value. Hannah has a keen interest in Widening Participation and Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, as well as student engagement and experience.

Contact Hannah
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Karen Taylor

Membership Manager - Affiliate Members

Karen joined Advance HE in November 2018 as an Executive within the Commercial Support / Business Development Team. Having spent 3 years working with the Membership Team to support our members with bespoke programmes and consultancy, as well as leading on a series of consultative studies across our governance and Chief Operating Officer communities to improve Advance HE’s offer, Karen is now excited to take on her new role of Membership Manager. She has a specific focus on College Based HE, small and specialists and independent providers in England, supporting across all aspects of Advance HE membership helping increase engagement and value.

Contact Karen

Current members 

A full list of current Advance HE member institutions can be found via the link below.

Current members