A message from our President

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE

The AUA and its members have an essential part to play in enabling UK universities and HE providers to survive this covid pandemic. You play a key role in enabling universities to provide not only great learning opportunities for our students, but also a thriving research environment.

It is an honour to be joining the AUA as its Hon President. It seems a particularly important point in the development of both the Association and the HE professionals that constitute its members. In the pandemic you will all have been called on to change the way you work and, in addition, to support academics in changing the way that they work. This will not have been easy but hopefully it has happened in a way that has enabled people to learn new skills and gain experiences which will be of value in the future.

The world of work to which we all hope to return is not going to be the same. Much of what’s ahead will be tough but, I don’t think it will all be worse! Some things that have changed may indeed lead to improvements in how we work and deliver excellent HE.

One thing that I believe will be better, relates to the way we understand and support each other’s wellbeing and mental health needs. During the pandemic it has been heart-warming to hear examples of how people have talked more openly about the stress they have been feeling. I know this has not been universal, but it has become more acceptable to talk about the emotional as well as practical challenges that we face. I was proud to be part of the AUA Annual Lecture, just after my appointment, when we heard Alistair Campbell talk about his own psychological distress. I was very moved by some of the comments from AUA members in the ‘chat’ associated with the webinar and its clear there is much more to do before we feel we have a uniformly supportive environment. There is a role for us all in this agenda. I am talking to your Chair, Amanda Oliver about how we might provide opportunities through the AUA for sharing ideas and best practice. I am keen that we take every opportunity to support our members to play a key part in this agenda in your own workplaces.

It has been an exciting time for me recently with the publication of the review I was asked to conduct on the TEF and which I presented to Sec of State Williamson in August 2019. As HE professionals you all play a key role in the quality of the learning experience that we provide for our students and I am grateful to all of you who contributed to my review. After over 18 months wait it is now finally out in the open and we can see the government response. As OfS develops a revised TEF I hope you will make sure that your views are heard in their consultations.

I look forward to 2021 with interest and relief. Thanks to the work of our HE system we have a vaccine and a way of coping with the virus. As the lifting of restrictions evolves, I look forward to meeting many of you in person and until then I will enjoy seeing you on ‘zooms’ and webinars. Thank you all for what you are doing. It is the work that you do that ensures the quality of our Higher Education endures for the generations ahead.

Useful links:

TEF latest assessment – The Pearce review and the government’s response | WonkHE

The government’s response to the Pearce review of TEF doesn’t do justice to it | WonkHE

Government response to the independent review of TEF | Gov.uk


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