About us

We’re the AUA, the Association of University Administrators

If you work, or aspire to work, in higher education administration or management, we are your professional association.  Our AUA membership promise is simple, yet powerful. We’re committed to connecting and developing every professional within our network. We’ll support you on your professional journey by providing opportunities to enhance and progress your career in HE.

Who we are and what we do

The AUA is the professional association for higher education administrators and managers. As well as being a representative voice for HE professionals within our sector, we’re here to support and guide you, our members, as you define and develop your career ambitions.

Think of us as an extension to your professional network. By connecting with like-minded individuals you can look beyond your current role and institution and become part of the wider sector. Through these connections you can share learning, encourage best practice and, importantly, help give our sector, your profession and you as an individual added credibility.

Our approach is simple, yet powerful. We’re committed to uniting and developing every professional within our network. That’s what makes us unique. In fact, we can sum up the AUA in one simple sentence:

Connecting and developing higher education professionals.

Our history

The world was a different place in 1961. JFK was sworn in as US President, Barack Obama was born, the Berlin Wall was constructed and the first Meeting of University Academic Administrators (MUASS) took place on a Saturday at the University of Manchester.

In 1965, when the mini-skirt made its first outing, membership of MUASS stood at 120. By the time Dr Christian Barnard performed the first heart transplant, in 1967, MUASS membership had risen to 473, representing 73 institutions.

In the same year that the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community, 1973, MUASS made way for CUA, the Conference of University Administrators. Fast forward twenty years and while the Maastricht Treaty was opening doors to one union, we were busy with our own. In 1993 CUA and APA (Association of Polytechnic Administrators) merged to become the Association of University Administrators, the AUA.

The AUA has come a long way since. We’ve experienced some challenging times and seen incredible change. Higher education has moved on and developments in our sector continue to take us to new and uncharted places.

Our strategic vision

The AUA  has  a  heritage  of  60  years contribution  to  UK  higher  education -connecting  and developing HE professionals.

During  2020  AUA  completed  a  wide-ranging  strategic  review  supported  by  a  cross-sector project Future HE Professionals. Informed by these insights we are presenting a positive and confident strategic vision in our  diamond  jubilee  year – with  core  commitments  equipping  our  members  to  thrive  in the changing future of higher education.

Empowering your career journey

At the heart of our membership offer is AUA’s Continuing Professional Development Framework for HE Professional Services – a dynamic tool which works at an organisational and individual level, for professionals at all career stages, and across all professional roles. We want to empower members in their career development journey – building on a refreshed CPD Framework with a new online CPD tool, equipping you positively with the skills and attributes you need to excel.

Improving your professional practice

AUA is a diverse community of HE professionals in all parts of the UK.  We want to increase members’ access to vibrant local and national networks – driving development and improvement in professional practice.  Our online publications and resources keep you ahead of the agenda and in touch with the latest insights.  Our new mentoring programme will connect you within the largest network of HE professionals in the UK, with opportunities to enhance professional learning, personal effectiveness and success.

Supporting your professional development

We want to extend the reach of our development opportunities -supporting members to build skills, qualifications and capabilities fit for the future.  Our transformed development programme will blend face-to-face and online options –a high quality, flexible and engaging offer, anticipating future HE trends and building professional agility and resilience.   Our new regional delivery model will enable inclusive access to development across the UK.

We want to connect and develop HE professionals everywhere. Through our sector relationships and   partnerships, we   will   broaden   AUA’s   networks   and   extend   our collaborations – supporting the HE professional services community across the UK.

Our values

AUA members are committed to:

  • Advancing education for public benefit through sharing professional knowledge and practice
  • Developing our own and others’ professional practice
  • Actively championing a professional culture of equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Working to the highest standards of fair, ethical and transparent professional behaviour

Our values underpin the nine professional behaviours of the AUA CPD Framework.

Our people


Colin Ferguson MAUA
Executive Director
Colin has overall responsibility for the AUA, leading the team here at AUA HQ and working closely with the Board to develop the future strategy for our members.


Finance Team

Anna Green MAUA
Head of Finance
Anna looks after all things financial for the AUA and the other sector associations that we provide support for and is a member of the senior management team. You can find Anna on email.



Laila Berraies MAUA
Finance Officer
Laila supports Anna in all areas of finance for the AUA and other sector associations.



Professional Development Team

Jane Reid MAUA
Teaching and Learning Manager (PgCert)
Jane manages our Postgraduate Certificate in HE Administration, Management and Leadership, including making strategic decisions on how the PgCert is developed for the future.



Dr Ella Popper SFHEA, MAUA
Head of Professional Development
Ella manages our continuing professional development portfolio, including our annual development programme. Ella works with internal and external stakeholders and makes strategic decisions about developing our portfolio to reflect the needs of higher education professionals and the sector. 


Membership and Networks Team

Jordan Paterson MAUA
Stakeholder Engagement Administrator
Jordan takes care of the administration that supports our members and volunteers. If you call the AUA office, or email our main enquires inbox, you will probably be assisted by Jordan.




Keith Zimmerman
Honorary President

Recently appointed as the new Executive Director for Transformation of Education and Student Outcomes at King’s College London, Keith Zimmerman is a board-level executive with 28 years’ experience in higher education.

Keith was previously Chief Operating Officer at the University of Bath. During his career he has served as Group Chief Operating Officer for the Open University; Director of Student Administration and Services at the University of Oxford; Academic Registrar at the University of Exeter; and Managing Partner and Head of Research Leadership at academic and scientific recruiters Perrett Laver.

He has extensive stakeholder management skills developed through the advocacy and delivery of organisational change and large-scale transformation programmes in high-profile and politically-charged settings.

Keith has also delivered a diverse range of customer and corporate services and led projects and programmes in large, complex, and highly regulated organisations.


We’re governed by a constitution and a Board of Trustees who are responsible for leading and executing our overall vision and direction adopted by the Association at our Annual General Meetings.  All funds of the AUA are used to improve and enhance the profession and the individuals working within it.

The AUA is a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), registered in England and Wales (1179422).  AUA Enterprises Ltd is AUA’s subsidiary trading company, and is the accounting body for many of the trading activities undertaken by AUA.  AUA Enterprises Ltd is registered in England and Wales (07814323).

Board of Trustees

AUA Chair | Vikki Goddard FAUA
Independent Consultant, Vikki Goddard Consulting

Vikki Goddard became an independent consultant for the sector recently, having worked in Higher Education for almost thirty years, including as a Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Director of Strategic Planning, and Director of Faculty Operations. Her last role was as Director of Operations for the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health at the University of Manchester, having previously held the same role in the Faculty of Humanities. She was responsible for the provision and performance of all Professional Services in the Faculties. Her previous roles include Registrar and COO at the University of Salford, and Director of Planning at the University of Liverpool.

She is passionate about enabling people to achieve their potential, and has a particular commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Treasurer | Chris Ince MAUA
University Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer, University of Hull

Chris Ince Chris is University Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer at University of Hull, and Treasurer of the AUA Board of Trustees. He has been an AUA member for over 10 years and has attended every Annual Conference since joining, making many friends along the way. He has previously been AUA Chair. Prior to  University of Hull, Chris was Secretary and Registrar at London Met and University Secretary at SOAS and also headed up the Governance and Compliance Directorate, which included a range of areas including information compliance, diversity and inclusion, incident management and institutional projects. More excitingly, if that is possible, he also spent two years testing computer games – a job that is a lot more tedious than it sounds.

Steve Smith MAUA
AUA Managing Consultant

Steve has 18 years of senior leadership and management experience in HE following a 17 year career with Unilever. Most recently as a Faculty Director of Operations at the University of Liverpool he has gained extensive experience and expertise in the design, planning, optimisation and management of a full range of professional services support for academics and students. Having led a range of university wide projects he also has experience of corporate governance processes, committee management and risk management. Steve’s early career was with Unilever where he had a variety of roles ranging from being a project engineer to managing a research and development department. Following this he moved to a role at the University of Manchester as a business manager before joining the University of Liverpool as Faculty Secretary for the Faculty of Medicine. Steve retired from the University of Liverpool in September 2020 but continues to be involved with the HE sector as an AUA consultant.

Gerry Webber FAUA

An active member of the AUA since the 1980s, Gerry retired in 2018 after almost 20 years as University Secretary of Edinburgh Napier University. He now supports a range of charitable organisations. Having worked and studied at ancient and modern Universities in England, Wales and Scotland as well as with the Open University, Gerry likes to think that he has developed a broad understanding of HE across the UK. In addition to leading and developing a wide range of professional services and overseeing university governance, he has direct experience of both faculty management and corporate planning. Gerry served on the executive committee of the AHUA for some years and has experience with a number of other bodies as a trustee and non-executive board member. He also wrote the AUA Guide to Negotiation (2015).

Sara Corcoran FAUA
Coach, Mentor, Facilitator, University of Suffolk

Sara joined the University of Suffolk (then University Campus Suffolk) as Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development on 1 August 2012, having previously held senior HR posts with Queen Mary University of London and the University of Essex, as well as serving as the Director of Personnel for University College Falmouth. Before joining HE, Sara spent 13 years working in the NHS, in acute and mental health Trusts and in a Regional Health Authority. Her professional interests include organisational development; leadership;  equality, diversity and inclusion; and the psychological contract. Sara stepped down from her role on the University’s senior Executive team in Spring 2020, taking on the part time role of internal Executive Coach and launching a private coaching and facilitation practice.  She is also Co-Chair of the Organisational Development in Higher Education Network.

John Baker MAUA
Head of Financial Planning & Reporting (Research & Enterprise), London South Bank University

John Baker currently works as a Finance Business Partner within the Financial Planning and Reporting Team at London South Bank University. He leads on oversight of financial project development and management processes, and supports a range of research and enterprise activity across the institution. Prior to H.E. John has been an enthusiastic member of the AUA for over 12 years, acting as institutional advocate for LSBU, elected member representative on the AUA Council in 2012, he cycled to the 2014 Conference in Manchester from London, and is an enthusiastic proponent of the AUA study tours, having gained rich insight, along with great friendships, on the 2015 trip to the Netherlands and Belgium.

Thea Gibbs MAUA
Director of Operations, University College London

Thea Gibbs is Director of Operations at the Faculty of Laws, UCL, leading Faculty operations as well as supporting institutional initiatives. Prior to her current role, Thea was Director of Operations of a large research centre at Coventry University, and helped build the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations from scratch into a thriving, successful operation. Thea has over 18 years’ HE sector experience in strategic and operational management roles in settings including student services, academic departments and strategic programmes. Before developing her career in university administration, Thea worked in the commercial sector. With a professional background in information management, Thea worked as a Law Librarian in a City law firm and as a Business Researcher in a large venture capital firm. She has recently completed a PhD which examined the work relationships of university professional services staff and how these influence the quality of services they provide.

Loretta Gibson FAUA
Director of Administration, University of Bath

Loretta is a highly skilled and experienced university manager with twenty years of experience within the UK and Australian higher education institutions, including – University of Melbourne, the University of Glasgow, the University of Birmingham and the University of Bath. 

Loretta’s unique management career is underpinned by a background in science that includes fifteen years of medical research laboratory experience.  She has outstanding networking skills and actively maintain a thriving international network of connections in higher education, health and research. She holds a Graduate Certificate in University Management (University of Melbourne), a degree in Applied Science (RMIT), and is a Fellow of the AUA.  In addition to her Board role, she is a mentor within the AUA PGCert programme, and has represented the AUA internationally at AACRAO 2022.

Mark Hollingsworth MAUA 
Director of Registry and Academic Affairs, University of Birmingham

Mark is Director of Registry and Academic Affairs at the University of Birmingham and has previously worked in HE Professional Services at Leicester, Loughborough, and Warwick since finishing his PhD at the University of Nottingham. When beginning his career, membership of the AUA was transformational in changing the way he conceptualised university administration as a profession.

Mark feels strongly about developing staff and is Vice-Chair of the AUA Board of Studies which has oversight for the quality and delivery of the PG Certificate. Mentoring – both formal and informal – has hugely benefited Mark throughout his career and he’s happy to be involved in anything which can similarly help others. Mark is an advocate for universities sharing knowledge and working together: he has founded and developed networks, practitioner groups, and communities of practice, and collaboration is something he views as a real strength of the sector.

Ruth Coomber FAUA
Division Manager, Cardiff University

Ruth has worked in Higher Education for 20 years and is currently the Centre Manager in the Medical School at Cardiff University.  Ruth has been a member of the AUA since 2013 where she started the Postgraduate Certificate for Higher Education, Leadership and Management.  Ruth graduated from the PGCert in 2015 and since that time has actively championed the development of the AUA behaviours and values at institutional level.  Since that time, Ruth has completed the PGDip and MSc in Higher Education Leadership and Management researching on the perceived barriers to staff development that hinder the engagement of professional staff in continuing professional development programmes.  Ruth continues her involvement in the PGCert and has been appointed as Delivery Partner.

Heidi Flanagan MAUA
Head of Student Insight and Enhancement, University of Winchester

Heidi joined the HE sector in 2012 with a background in strategic customer-focused roles. She has cross-sector expertise in customer satisfaction, including policy formulation, governance, project management and strategic sales and marketing. Heidi works at the University of Winchester, where she assists the Executive with regulatory requirements and institution-wide projects aligned with student experience. As well as being a Trustee for the AUA, Heidi is a member of the HR Committee of NUS UK and NUS Charity, a former Trustee of Winchester Student Union and a former member of the South East Regional Board of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Sol Miah MAUA
Senior Clerk (HR & Events Administration), University of Cambridge

Sol Miah is responsible for HR and Events administration at the University of Cambridge. He is currently serving on their Wellbeing and Equality & Inclusivity Committees. Sol has contributed to organising wellbeing events, established Wellbeing Advocates to support staff, achieved the Athena Swan Gold Award, adopted the Race Equality Charter, promoted the LGBTQ and BAME Societies and Networks. Sol has more than ten years of experience as a Further Education College Governor, where he gained his first taste of HE Leadership and Governance. During his time as a College Governor, he learned about strategic development, governance, finance, HR, auditing, risk management, pension schemes, quality and curriculum standards for students, implemented safeguarding and EDI policies and capital projects. Sol successfully completed the High Impact Leadership course at the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. He has gained degrees in BA Financial Services and an MSc Occupational Psychology. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute. Due to Sol’s extensive experience in education and HR, he will strive to achieve the best learning experience for staff and students.

Oliver Cooper FAUA
Head of Administration, University of Warwick

Oliver is Head of Administration for the Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick, responsible for research administration, teaching & learning and operations as well as strategic and financial planning. Prior to this Oliver was the Head of Strategic Projects & Administration for the Campus & Commercial Group (CCSG) at Warwick, with oversight of strategy, change management, business administration, compliance and governance across the group. Following on from the AUA’s PG Cert, Oliver has completed his MSc. in Higher Education Administration, Management & Leadership from Nottingham Business School. Oliver has worked in HE for over 10 years and been a member of the AUA since 2013.


Contact us

We’re open Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

Call us: 44+(0)161 528 0531

You can find us on: Email | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Address: Association of University Administrators, George Begg Building, The University of Manchester, Sackville Street, Manchester, M1 3BB

If you’d like to send us mail, please use M13 9PL as the postcode.

We welcome all feedback as we use this to help us continually improve the service we provide you.  We want to hear from you when we have done something well and more importantly when we have missed the mark or caused any inconvenience.  If you have a complaint or commendation to share with us please contact us.