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Advance HE marks its fifth birthday by re-pledging its commitment to help higher education to be the best it can be

31 Mar 2023 | Advance HE Advance HE helped has helped higher education navigate its way through a turbulent few years and is now gearing up to support the sector still further amid the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Advance HE today marked five years since it first came into being by reflecting on its achievements and pledging its commitment to continue as the sector’s development partner as it navigates the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Since the sector-led charity was formed in 2018, Advance HE has worked to provide its members across the world with the strategic support, enhancement tools, resources and expertise they need to be the best they can be in the areas of:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Leadership
  • Governance, and
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

Membership has gone from strength to strength. Advance HE’s membership community now extends to 470 institutions having recently welcomed the 100th international member, Mahidol, one of the leading universities in Thailand.

“We have worked in close partnership with the sector and our members from the start, listening closely to their needs in order to provide targeted support and services specifically designed to make a real impact to individual institutions, their staff and students,” said Advance HE Chief Executive, Alison Johns.

“At Advance HE, we truly believe in the potential of higher education to transform the lives of individuals, communities and society.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together in building Advance HE and developing for the sector an organisation that is committed to delivering the support and partnership it needs to thrive.

“As I reflect on the past five years, I am pleased by what we have been able to provide to higher education and our global community of members. However, the challenges ahead are unprecedented and we stand ready and committed to support the sector as it navigates the significant and complex changes already upon us – the implications of AI, the financial crisis, cultural division, rapid internationalisation and the need to protect academic integrity and freedom of speech to consider but a few.

“It will be those challenges that will form the centre piece of the learning events we planning to stage later this year which is the time we have chosen to officially mark our five-year milestone.”

Key achievements:

On Teaching and Learning, we:

  • Launched a revised Professional Standards Framework (PSF 2023) so that it can continue to underpin good practice in teaching and learning into the future on a global scale
  • Enabled 170,000 higher education professionals around the world to achieve Fellowship status, not only giving them a framework for developing their own professional practice but raising the status of teaching and learning within the sector
  • Recognised hundreds of UK higher education professionals for their teaching excellence as part of the National Teaching Fellowship and Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence Schemes
  • Progressed the review and update of the enhancement frameworks that make up the Student Success series. So far the following core thematic areas have been reviewed: access, retention, attainment and progression; approaches to flexible learning; assessment and feedback; and embedding employability in higher education
  • Created comprehensive support to help institutions respond to regulatory changes and develop strategies to improve students’ outcomes against key sector benchmarks - such as Condition B3 from the OfS in England.

On Leadership, we:

  • Worked in partnership with Universities UK and created a new Vice-Chancellors’ Transition Programme
  • Celebrated the 50th cohort of our flagship Top Management Programme for Higher Education and graduated the first cohort from Australasia – supporting the development of hundreds of strategic leaders
  • Launched a new network for Provosts and DVCs to collaborate on major institutional challenges and benefit from peer support and cross-sector networking within global higher education.
  • Supported the development of more than 10,000 women in higher education through our Aurora women’s leadership programme
  • Carried out research on leadership in higher education worldwide which will result in our inaugural Leadership Survey Report due out in May.

On Governance, we:

  • Now deliver a comprehensive programme of activities from Governance Effectiveness Reviews using our governance effectiveness framework through to our UK Governance Development Programme. This supports higher education to have diverse and representative governance oversight to ensure it can meet the needs of students and well as fulfil its wider societal role
  • Launched a collaborative project between Advance HE, Universities UK and GuildHE to convene the sector to understand shared challenges and approaches to academic governance
  • Launched the first ever Higher Education Board Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit (working with Perrett Laver and the University of Gloucestershire), which collated understanding and shared members’ practice to help members to improve the diversity and inclusivity of their governing bodies
  • Developed a comprehensive range of events as part of our UK Governance Development Programme to ensure Higher Education has diverse and representative governance oversight to ensure it can meet the needs of students and well as fulfil its wider societal role

On Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI), we:

  • Launched the revised UK Athena Swan Charter which has played a role in promoting gender equality through partnership with Advance HE in a growing number of countries including Australia, USA, the Republic of Ireland, Canada and India
  • Worked with Universities UK, GuildHE, CUC and NUS to bring the UK sector together to explore tensions around protecting and upholding freedom of speech and fostering good relations between different groups. This series of roundtables led to a sector statement of commitment promoting and protecting academic freedom
  • Provide annual Equality in Higher Education: Statistical Reports on staff and students in the UK to assist the sector in better understanding the main equality challenges for higher education institutions.

Later this year we will begin to formally mark our fifth anniversary though a series of events and celebrations and will continue to work with our members across the globe in pursuit of the high quality, sustainable and inclusive higher education we are all committed to providing. In parallel, our work together continues with a highlight of upcoming activity below:

  • The Sustainable Institutions Project is open for submissions. This evidence-informed review of good practice will explore examples of sustainable institutions practice from around the world
  • International Higher Education: What’s next? explores global views of HE leaders about ‘the road to 2030’ for international partnerships and education
  • Beyond The Classroom: Supporting Student Outcomes project will curate institutional case studies that identify and disseminate new ways of working to show how third space professionals can be used to positively influence student outcomes. The project will shortly be calling for case studies
  • Submissions are open for our Global Impact Grants to enable members to share impactful initiatives with our member community
  • The Advance HE Leadership Survey will publish its findings in May 2023. The survey begins to address the question ‘what works for leadership in higher education?’ and generates a unique evidence, highlighting contextual variations across the sector and explore the impact of leadership development
  • Our Governance Effectiveness Project on Academic Governance is a collaborative project between Advance HE, UUK and GuildHE which aims to convene the sector to understand shared challenges and approaches to academic governance.

We feel it is important for voices to be heard to stimulate debate and share good practice. Blogs on our website are the views of the author and don’t necessarily represent those of Advance HE.

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