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Beyond The Classroom: case studies of what works

15 Apr 2024 | Dr Charles Knight Advance HE's Associate Director for Knowledge and Innovation, Charles Knight, introduces ‘Beyond the Classroom’, a series of case studies highlighting the vital role of third space professionals in enhancing higher education by integrating holistic support, employability skills and digital innovation.

“Beyond the Classroom offers insightful strategies for fostering inclusive, student-centred learning environments, making it a must-read for colleagues looking to enhance their practice. Charles Knight 

At Advance HE, our core commitment to enhancing higher education is paramount. Therefore, we understand that the student experience and the transformational power of higher education is not simply about what happens within the classroom or traditional experiences. We must understand the broader ecosystem that shapes outcomes to ensure the student experience is as powerful and impactful as possible. 

“Beyond the Classroom”, a project we commissioned via our Collaborative Development Fund (CDF), is an example of this approach. 

Third space

Beyond the Classroom highlights the significant contributions of third space professionals - those whose roles straddle the academic and administrative domains - towards enriching the student experience and outcomes. 

These professionals, often operating in areas such as outreach, student support and digital teams, play a crucial role in guiding student progression, retention and ultimate success post-graduation. 


For me, the work’s power lies in its exploration of how these professionals, through their unique positions and expertise, contribute significantly to students' holistic development. It underlines the importance of a comprehensive educational ecosystem that supports students beyond traditional academic settings, addressing their varied needs and challenges throughout their higher education journey. 

Case studies

The five individual institutional case studies curated in Beyond the Classroom offer new insights into working practices that positively influence student outcomes. These examples serve as a testament to the innovative work being carried out across the sector and as a blueprint for embedding such practices more broadly within higher education institutions. Each case study provides practical guidance for adaption in other contexts and organisations.  

Finally, I would note that this is not just a report to read; it can be used as a conversation starter and a blueprint for innovation. It presents a robust case for continuing to reimagine the boundaries of learning and teaching and harness the knowledge and power of our third space colleagues to improve education for all.  

Beyond the Classroom also highlights the need for third space professionals to wield more significant influence within their organisations to shape policy and, in partnership with academics, think about how we continue to evolve our educational practices for the challenges of now and the near future.  


Charles Knight is the Associate Director for Knowledge and Innovation at Advance HE.  

Advance HE members can download Beyond the Classroom here 


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