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Improving professional services practice and developing professional services performance

AUA Consulting is about improving professional services practice and developing professional services performance. It is a consulting practice that is ‘of the sector for the sector’ – our Consultants are practitioners in higher education administration and management and they are members of our Association. For clients this means we combine the benefits of an external perspective with sector specific expertise. Any financial surplus derived from AUA Consulting is reinvested to support the AUA’s charitable objectives – connecting and developing HE professionals – for the benefit of our members in support of the sector.

Our services | how we can help you

  • Strategic advice and reviews of student services operations/functions, including services benchmarking and international best practice
  • Reviews of student affairs administration eg student complaints and academic appeals
  • Evaluating your student employability offer
  • Developing service standards in academic administration/student services, including service monitoring and evaluation best practice
  • Using the AUA CPD Framework to embed positive behavioural attributes that drive high performing staff, building up to the AUA Mark of Excellence
  • Tailored CPD for your professional services staff function specific and/or focussed on professional skills and behaviours.  Skills-related topics include ‘Delivering excellent service’, ‘Guiding your team through change’.  Contact AUA Consulting to discuss our bespoke CPD design service to meet the needs of you and your team.

Case studies | recent projects

Case Study


University of Gloucestershire

Review of arrangements supporting academic quality and enhancements

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We worked with the University of Gloucestershire to review the impact and effectiveness of changes made to its academic governance, structures and quality-related processes arising from an institutional change project: Rethinking Enhancement.

Key features included:

  • Working closely with the University on a robust review design.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including individual and group meetings on campus.
  • Practical recommendations for improvement.
  • A comprehensive written report suited to the University’s executive/committee structure.

Meetings with the consultant were very professional, open and well-structured.

A really great report. Exactly what we needed.

Case Study


AMOSSHE

Professionalising Student Services
A feasibility study

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We worked with AMOSSHE – the Student Services Organisation to deliver a feasibility study aligned to AMOSSHE’s exploration of a competence framework to support Student Services professionals.  The work is set in the context of a rapidly changing landscape in UK HE and the agenda around the student experience growing in complexity and expectation.

Key features included:

  • Input from AUA consultants with a depth of expertise in HE student affairs and in professional development practice.
  • A client-centred approach including speedy delivery of the end-of-project report in line with the requirements of the AMOSSHE Executive.
  • A combination of desk research and in-depth stakeholder consultation to ensure relevance and applicability.
  • A clear set of practical recommendations to assist AMOSSHE in considering the issues further and planning next steps.

Thank you very much for the work on this. The AUA team has been extremely helpful every step of the way, especially with the understanding of such a tight timescale for delivery.

Case Study


Ravensbourne

Review of corporate and academic governance

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We worked with Ravensbourne University London to review the efficacy of its corporate and academic governance arrangements.

Key features included:

  • Review of university documentation relating to governance.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including observation of multiple meetings, on-campus and phone interviews and two online stakeholder surveys.
  • Expert consulting input from an experienced team of senior HE governance professionals.
  • Practical recommendations to support the University to consolidate good governance practice and plan for future improvements.
  • A comprehensive written report, referencing regulatory requirements/benchmarks, tailored for the Ravensbourne Board of Governors.

The Governance Effectiveness Review conducted by AUA Consultants was a well-run process and their report has proved very useful in pointing to many improvements which we are now planning to make.

Case study


University College of Estate Management

Supporting Equality Impact
Assessment

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We worked with the University College of Estate Management to develop their expertise and experience in the area of Equality Impact Assessment.  Drivers included regulatory expectations alongside fostering good educational/academic practice.

Key features included:

  • Input from an AUA consultant with a depth of expertise in HE equality and diversity issues.
  • Hands-on training to build confidence with direct relevance to the institution’s mission and practice.
  • A client-centred approach including close liaison with the institution throughout.
  • Practical ‘pick-up-and-use’ resources and templates to facilitate effective implementation.

“It was great to have the consultant’s expertise. The training was really well received and colleagues are now enthusiastic to get started. We will definitely be using AUA Consulting again an will recommend to others.”

Case study


Middlesex University

Introducing streamlining and workflow into course approval procedures

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We worked with Middlesex University to develop a workflow solution for its course/programme approval and closure processes, incorporating streamlining and process enhancement, aligned to the University’s revised governance approval mechanisms.

Key features included:

  • A client-centred approach including close liaison with the University throughout, and direct consultant input on campus.
  • A flexible project timeline to suit the University’s requirements within the pattern of the academic cycle.
  • An interim options report to support institutional decision-making. 

“Thank you again for all your work on this project – the forms and process look in good shape.  It’s been a pleasure to work with you – we could never have carved out the time to produce what you have.”

Case study


Buckinghamshire New University

Development of a development framework for Professional Services Employees

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We worked with Buckinghamshire New University on a development framework for its Professional Services Employees (PSEs), setting out skills and behaviours to underpin recruitment and selection, performance management, and succession planning and talent management processes.

Key features included:

  • Expert consulting input, drawing on AUA’s strong track record in professional development.
  • Considerable stakeholder engagement, including a series of focus groups on campus with colleagues across the institution.
  • A flexible project timeline to suit the University’s requirements, including an interim report to support executive decision-making.
  • Practical ‘pick-up-and-use’ resources to facilitate effective implementation.

“What really worked well was the consultants flexibility and ability to with with us in understanding our requirements. Also the quick turnaround of work when required.

Case Study


Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales

Partnership project to support mental health

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We worked with Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales to advise on the scope of a partnership project – with the local NHS – to improve student mental health provision in South East Wales.

Key features included:

  • Extensive stakeholder consultation across the project partnership, including individual and group meetings on campus.
  • Expert consulting input, including project-specific benchmarking.
  • Practical recommendations to support the partners in project initiation.
  • A comprehensive written report designed for the partnership steering group.

“The consultant’s sector knowledge and analysis was invaluable – enabling us to move a partnership involving three HE providers and the NHS into a new phase. Following a focussed initial piece of  work we were pleased to be able to continue working with AUA Consulting taking our project forward.”

Case Study


Post ’92 University

Costs and compliance review of student-related services

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We worked with a post ’92 university to consider options for reducing student-related costs and services without jeopardising compliance with the HE regulatory framework.

Key features included:

  • Undertaking to keep the nature of the project confidential to a small number of senior managers.
  • Mapping service levels required for regulatory compliance, including aspects like OfS conditions of registration, Competition and Markets Authority, UKVI, Equality Act 2010, Education Act 1994, Safeguarding, Prevent, GDPR.
  • Commentary on services in scope, exploration of efficiencies and improved cost-effectiveness, including benchmarking service models.  Recommendations for compliant cost reduction.

“Thank you for your very thorough report.  You provided really helpful insight and the work was professional and competent.  It will provide a really strong basis for our future planning.”

AUA Consultants | meet the team

AUA Consultants are embedded in practice with broad experience of the realities of working in higher education. They work individually and as part of a team – our Managing Consultant provides oversight and quality control with the AUA Office providing additional support. Being part of the AUA, our Consultants have the backing of the Association’s almost 60 year heritage.

Dr Andrew West
Dr Andrew West
Managing Consultant
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Andrew is former University Secretary at the University of Sheffield. His career in Higher Education spans 30 years, including 11 years leading student-related services encompassing student recruitment and admissions, academic services and learning and teaching support, registry and student administration, careers and employability, and a broad range of student support and well being services.

A former Chair of AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation, Andrew has provided advice and consultancy at a wide range of institutions in England, Wales and Scotland, across all mission groups. He is a member of the Board of Governors of Leeds Beckett University, an Associate of Advance HE and a Halpin Consulting Fellow.

Jim Benson
Lead Consultant
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Jim has extensive experience in the HE sector, having worked in higher education for almost 30 years, and most recently holding the position of Secretary to Council and University Secretary at Brunel University from 2007-2018. Jim has a specialist interest in corporate and academic governance, strategic development, academic regulations and quality reviews, student and academic administration reviews, reviews of quality processes and regulations, and offering advice on statutory returns and stakeholder engagement.

Jacquelyn Bownes
Jacquelyn Bownes
Lead Consultant
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With over 20 years’ leadership development experience, Jacquelyn has held a number of executive positions heading up learning and development functions. For the last 10 years she has worked as an organisation development consultant working with a diverse range of organisations from the NHS to manufacturing companies and including the HE sector. Jacquelyn is one of the original consultants  supporting the AUA roll out the behavioural framework across higher education.  She is a fully accredited Executive Coach Supervisor, graduate member of the CIPD and qualified Myers Briggs and Emotional Intelligence Practitioner.

Kate Dodd
Lead Consultant
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Kate has extensive experience of managing and developing multifunctional teams in three leading research-intensive universities; and rich experience of governance in a variety of capacities gained over a 30 year career in higher education. Kate is experienced in project work, service reviews and evaluations, staff development through coaching and training, and drafting or revising policy and procedure.

David Law AUA Consultant
David Law
Lead Consultant
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During a career that has combined academic roles and administration/management, David has worked at five universities in the UK and spent a research sabbatical at Harvard. His particular area of expertise is strategic planning, particularly in international operations and partnerships. He was Academic Registrar at the Universities of Warwick and Hull and a PVC at Edge Hill University. Following (what was meant to be) retirement, David directed the Confucius Institute at Edge Hill for two years. He is also heavily involved in the AUA and is currently Principal Editor of Perspectives the AUA journal.

Alison Levey AUA Consultant
Alison Levey
Lead Consultant
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Alison has worked as a senior manager in HE for nearly 20 years and has considerable experience in change management and strategic development, covering both pre- and post-1992 sectors. She has specialist expertise in line-managing across multi-site campuses and working with non-standard student populations such as part-time, mature adult learners and bespoke commissioned programmes for both public and private sectors.

Steph O'Halloran AUA Consultant
Steph O’Halloran
Lead Consultant
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Steph is an experienced learning and development professional. During her 20 years at the OU, Steph led a number of key institutional development projects including the design and implementation of a new Leadership Competency Framework and associated 360 degree feedback questionnaire, and the redesign and delivery of the in-house ILM Team Leader Programme. In addition to project work, Steph designed and delivered development activities to achieve strategic priorities. Steph is a qualified coach, ILM Accredited Action Learning Set Facilitator, CIPD qualified with a Masters in HR.

Steve Smith
Lead Consultant
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Steve is a former Faculty Director of Operations at the University of Liverpool and has 18 years of senior leadership and management experience in HE following a 17 year career with Unilever. He has extensive experience and expertise in the design, planning, optimisation and management of a full range of professional services support for academics and students. This has incorporated detailed and widespread engagement with University planning processes and financial systems. Having also led a number of university wide projects, he is well positioned to advise on overall operational service design and efficiency, benchmarking, corporate governance processes, committee management and risk management. Steve has recently become a member of the AUA Board of Trustees.

Pete Quinn AUA Consultant
Pete Quinn
Lead Consultant
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Pete had over 15 years’ experience of working in HE before becoming a Consultant in 2016. His specific focus is on equality, diversity and inclusion challenges including mental health and wellbeing, duty of care, diverse talent, allyship, addressing unconscious bias and inclusive teaching, learning and assessment. Pete has worked on these areas in the UK, Europe, in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Pete’s focus is on devising realistic strategic and operational approaches in ever-evolving and challenging circumstances. He does this with people throughout organisations whether this be Senior management, faculty, professional support or student support practitioners as well as outreach and marketing teams. Pete is a certified Coach and Mentor with the Chartered Management Institute.

Jan Shine
Lead Consultant
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Jan is an experienced  trainer, manager, coach and HR specialist with a background in higher education. Jan’s higher education professional services career spanned 25 years and equipped her with broad experience in higher education administration and management, HR and staff development.  Since 2007 Jan has run her own business, Paullus People Development, and works throughout the UK providing a range of bespoke workshops and programmes, coaching and organisational development consultancy.  Jan is a qualified coach, holds a PgDip in management, is a qualified MBTI practitioner, a Fellow of the AUA, and an Assessor and Advisor for the AUA Mark of Excellence Award.  Jan is an independent provider of specialist training for professionals working with adults affected by adoption and works with PAC-UK as an intermediary and intermediary supervisor.

Dawn Turpin AUA Consultant
Dawn Turpin
Lead Consultant
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Dawn has 20 years’ experience in leadership and management positions within the higher education sector with expertise in corporate and academic governance and regulatory compliance across UK nations, executive and non-executive recruitment, risk management, strategic programme management and information rights. Alongside her consultancy work, Dawn is a lay representative for Health Education England and a clerk for a primary academy trust school in Northampton.

Mary Hughes
Lead Consultant
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Mary has extensive experience working in university administration and management having worked for over 30 years in a variety of higher education systems in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Mary began her UK HE career at the University of Kent where she held a variety of posts before establishing Enrolment Management Services of which she was Director for seven years before becoming Academic Registrar. Mary has a keen interest in Strategic Enrolment Management. She has a breadth of experience across HE professional services and the student life cycle, with particular strengths in strategic development and organisational structures; governance and committee management; and the preparation of institutional/organisational strategic plans.

Tim Cobbett
Lead Consultant
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Tim has worked in registry and/or planning roles across six HEIs, along with a 3-year spell working as a UUK Policy Adviser.  He went freelance as an interim manager and consultant in 2015, focussing on consulting from 2017.  His consultancy work has covered a range of specialist areas including:  student systems and databases; administrative processes; data management; admissions; metrics and reporting; student dispute management; and academic governance. 

Interested in becoming an AUA Consultant? Email consulting@aua.ac.uk or call Kathy Murray, Director of Operations on +44 (0)161 275 2063.

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Contact us | how can we help you?

If you’d like to find out how AUA Consulting can help your organisation or are interested in becoming a consultant for the AUA, email  consulting@aua.ac.uk, or if you would like to have a conversation, call +44 (0)161 275 2063.