Since its creation, Advance HE has taken the opportunity to reflect on how best to serve its members by empowering the synergies of its legacy areas of education, inclusion and leadership to be more than the sum of our parts. All three former agencies have a proud heritage of collaborating with the sector to overcome challenges that could not be addressed by institutions in isolation: whether through mechanisms like Athena SWAN, set up to drive improvements in gender equality in STEM subjects, or the Professional Standards Framework that now underpins a global community of Fellows, the value in collaboration cannot be understated.
We are far from job done: the rapidly changing landscape is putting further pressure on our sector to respond to challenges that are increasingly complex and impact on many aspects of higher education. The need to take integrated approaches to address these challenges is vital, but to do so efficiently and collaboratively requires a step change to how an organisation like Advance HE works with and for its members. Capitalising on our newly merged mission to support the enhancement of practice across higher education, we decided to look at how we could best provide the support needed to empower the fantastic communities across the sector.
Building on work already done by the predecessor agencies, Advance HE undertook a three month consultation with our members on how we could provide a more sustainable infrastructure to support the sector’s networks – subject, thematic, and professional. The consultation reached over 200 individuals representing 96 institutions from over 14 countries and 28 different disciplines.
The results of the consultation gave us three clear functions to focus on:
- To be able to share resources, ideas and research;
- To connect to other practitioners, communities and networks;
- To collaborate on projects.
All with the objective of enhancing practice in higher education.
Advance HE used these design principles to create a new online community platform to provide the infrastructure for individuals, groups, communities, networks and organisations within HE to share, connect, and collaborate.
Advance HE Connect is the online platform that is part of our solution to provide an engaging, empowering, and accessible means for individuals across higher education to: come together to share ideas, learning, and resources; connect through groups, communities and networks; and collaborate on projects and research.
Advance HE Connect will be the vehicle through which we can support individual practitioners and communities asynchronously across our increasingly global membership base, whilst also working in collaboration with other sector organisations who share our mission to enhance practice in HE.
Our vision is for a globally connected and integrated community of higher education professionals who share, connect, and collaborate with peers, whilst being supported by Advance HE and our partners to enhance their practice.
Our Networks Team are working with interested parties throughout April to build group spaces on Advance HE Connect prior to our full launch across our membership on 16 May 2019 in Birmingham.