Development Monthly

The AUA offers opportunities for learning and development beyond your day job; to improve your professional practice and enhance your experience of working in HE professional services.

To mark our 60th year of connecting and developing our members, we have created Development Monthly. This new monthly bulletin will share highlights from the AUA, with the knowledge and expertise of our membership and stakeholder community, plus best practice from the sector and beyond.

Reflecting the breadth of areas that our members work within higher education, readers can expect a variety of professional development news and insights around a monthly theme including, articles, hints and tips, practical tools, sign-posts, and a taster of AUA opportunities.


Development Monthly has been created for the benefit of the whole sector and all HE professionals are encouraged to sign up using the form below.

If you’re already an AUA member, there’s no need to complete this form, you’ll automatically receive this bulletin as part of your member benefits.

Issue #8: April 2022

Change in the HE landscape

As we move into May, the theme for this month’s edition is Change in the HE Landscape. Fola Ikpehai provides her perspective of Change Management in HE, before and during the pandemic. Dr Ella Popper and Jordan Paterson celebrate networks, and Kate Moss shares what it’s like to be an AUA Network Coordinator in honour of the National Day for Staff Networks on 11th May. To celebrate Learning at Work Week, 16-22 May, Thea Gibbs discusses understanding power dynamics on campus, and I reveal how you can help to shape the future of Development Monthly and contribute to content. Read the Executive Director of the AUA, Colin Ferguson’s reply to the provocations raised in letter to the editor, in the previous edition of Development Monthly, which hints that great change is on the horizon. Have a great month, remember to reflect, and be kind to one another! – Chiara Singh, Development Monthly Editor

Lead Article | Change Management in Higher Education – Pre-, During and Post-Pandemic

Fola Ikpehai, SUMS Consulting

Universities are about creating knowledge – disseminating and engaging people in that creation in a way that most other organisations do not. The culture in institutions is often siloed, and individual loyalty is often to the faculty, college, school or department…

Read the article

Development Monthly Live @ AUA Annual Conference

Chiara Singh, University of Bristol

Are you fed up of being pigeon holed solely as an Administrator? Do you want to contribute to shaping the future of the AUA whilst building your network? Are you a budding writer or creative mind that can share your story with the AUA community? If so…then this session is for you!

Read the article

Article Spotlight |
4 trends that will shape the future of higher education

World Economic Forum

In most countries, higher education is inaccessible to the socio-economically underprivileged, certifies knowledge rather than nurtures learning, and focuses on easily-outdated knowledge. In brief, it is failing on both counts of quality and access.

Read the article

What we’re reading | The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations

John P. Kotter

“Why is organizational change so hard? Because in order to make any transformation successful, you must change more than just the structure and operations of an organization—you need to change people’s behavior. And that is never easy.”
Find out more

Read the article

Video | Power dynamics on Campus

Thea Gibbs, UCL

Thea Gibbs examines the experiences of professional services staff along the spectrum of organisational structures from highly centralised to highly devolved, and how individuals can navigate the complexities and challenges inherent in each type.

 Watch the video

Happy Networks Day!:

Dr Ella Popper and Jordan Peterson, AUA

The 11 May marks the National Day for Staff Networks, the world’s only nationwide day dedicated to recognising networks/resource groups and the incredible value they add to the workplace.

 Read the article

Response to Letter to the Editor

Colin Ferguson, AUA Executive Director

Firstly, I would like to thank you for the candour of your letter. As you rightly point out, recent times have given us cause for reflection, and I believe reflection is only useful if we consider the uncomfortable questions. To avoid these can merely be an exercise in flattery…

Read the article

Event Spotlight | Learning at Work Week 2022

Across the AUA

Join us from Monday 16 – Friday 20 May 2022 for a series of free, online sessions open to all AUA members and non-members to attend.

Find out more

Issue #7: March 2022

As Easter approaches, I hope you’ve been enjoying the sunshine and let’s take a moment to be grateful for the shelter, warmth, and loved ones we often take for granted. This month’s edition is about Shaping the Future of HE, featuring content from our programme of speakers at the AUA Conference 2022 (7-8 July).  James Newby shares insights on the role of new providers and Sarah Smith delves into the power of emotions in the leadership of change. Aidan Grills examines student expectations and Rachel Soper explores sustainability in the midst of the pandemic. To tie in with World Autism Acceptance Week, Joe McAllister looks at using the ‘chimp model’ to deal with uncertainty and Dr Ella Popper reflects on Times Higher Education’s Digital Universities Week. We also introduce a new feature, ‘Letter to the Editor’. Jonathan Dempsey ponders provocative thoughts on the title ‘Administrators’, what the AUA represents, and stands for in 2022. Please do share your own thoughts on social media @The_AUA #Develop, or why not write a letter to the editor yourself, anonymous or otherwise to Have a great month and enjoy the Easter Holidays. – Chiara Singh, Development Monthly Editor

Lead Article | New providers: levelling up or just noisy upstarts?

James Newby, NMITE

“Can the Higher Education sector keep up with the new “levelling up” agenda of skills training, vocational courses, widening participation and community regeneration? Universities are constantly innovating and developing their offerings to address these topics, but it is new providers that are emerging with missions built entirely around these issues.”

Read the article

Opinion Piece | Taking it to heart: The power of emotions in the leadership of change

Sarah Smith, University of Edinburgh

How do mixtures of emotions like this show up in the way we lead and engage with our work colleagues?  How do we impact the emotions and emotional energy of those around us; and how do their emotions frame what they hear or sense in what we say and do? …
Read the article

Video | Student expectations

Aidan Grills, Leeds University Union

Aidan Grills, Chief Executive of Leeds University Union, discusses the Union’s research into student expectations post-pandemic.

Watch the video

Letter to the Editor | Some questions (provocations)
for the AUA

Jonathan Dempsey, New College of the Humanities

Now this letter is not setting out to denigrate or talk down the AUA, in fact I’m involved in many ways as a mentor and on the advisory board for this very publication I’m writing to, however I want to provoke a conversation about who we are as an organisation…

Read the letter

Video | Reflections:
Sustainability in HE

Rachel Soper, SOS-UK

Rachel Soper, Senior Project Manager for Engagement at Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK), reflects on the priority of sustainability at HE institutions post pandemic post pandemic.
 Watch the video

Dealing with change and uncertainty by using the chimp model 

Joe McAllister, University of Bristol

The last few years have been such a rollercoaster ride for us all. Within HE the challenges that professional services staff have faced are immense, and while we’ve had to quickly adapt our working practices to meet the needs of our academic and student partners…
 Read the article

Reflections from THE Digital Universities Week UK: Connect, learn, transform.

Dr Ella Popper, AUA

We are all acutely aware of the rise of digital technology in the higher education (HE) sector, the use of which has accelerated since the pivot to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an increasing urgency in the sector to digitally transform…
Read the article

Event Spotlight | Managing Distressed Students

Julie Rea, Plinth House

Thursday, 7 April 2022 – Online |
In this half-day online training event, we will start by exploring the nature of distress and the way in which a student might present.  We will then explore a range of practical skills you need to respond to students in distress, invaluable skills whether you are a manager of a large student-facing team or a new member of staff in your first role in higher education.

Find out more

What we’re reading | Digital Transformation and Disruption of Higher Education

Andreas Kaplan

Kaplan analyses higher education’s digital transformation and potential disruption from a holistic point of view, providing a balanced and critical account from a variety of interdisciplinary viewpoints. 

Find out more

Issue #6: February 2022

Issue #6: February 2022

Continuing Professional Development

As we slide into March, my thoughts go out to the international community at this time and any loved ones that may be affected by the events unfolding. The theme of this month’s bulletin is Continuing Professional Development, looking at how a combination of approaches, ideas, and techniques can help to manage your personal learning and growth. To celebrate International Women’s Day and its theme: #Breakthebias on the 8 March, Annette Cooke shares her top tips for CPD in HE and Gillian Davis discusses her move into a new role at the University of Law. We highlight some great reflective practice frameworks that can be used to increase self-awareness and Hugh Jones puts forward three pointers to consider when thinking about personal development. To tie in with Neurodiversity Celebration Week, 21-27 March, join us for Neurodiversity 101, a course to increase inclusivity and understanding of what neurodiversity means. Enjoy your pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and have a wonderful month.
Chiara Singh, Development Monthly Editor

In this issue…

Lead Article | Taking your chances: pointers for your professional development

Hugh Jones, Hugh Jones Consulting

When I started my consultancy, having worked in ‘proper jobs’ within the HE sector for the best part of 25 years, one of the early things to think about was how to set a fee. This is an interesting question – it’s not only about how much you’d like, it’s about how much the market can stand…

Read the article

Article spotlight | ‘Getting started with Reflective Practice’

Teaching and Learning Team,
Cambridge International Education

This article highlights reflective practice frameworks which you can apply to CPD in HE service professions. Although the article is framed for those in teaching positions, the frameworks and content is transferable and may be applied to your role.
Read the article

Video | Top five tips – CPD in HE

Annette Cooke, University of Salford

When I started my consultancy, having worked in ‘proper jobs’ within the HE sector for the best part of 25 years, one of the early things to think about was how to set a fee. This is an interesting question – it’s not only about how much you’d like, it’s about how much the market can stand…

Watch the video

Video | Changing Jobs

Gillian Davis, University of Law

Gillian Davis, newly-appointed Director of Assessment Organisation and Delivery, discusses her recent move into the role, her career journey and advice for those looking to follow in a similar path.
Watch the video

Event spotlight | Neurodiversity 101

Pete Quinn, Pete Quinn Consulting

Neurodiversity is still a relatively recent concept covering a range of neurological conditions including Autism, ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Developmental Language Disorder.

The course provides delegates with an awareness of what neurodiverse diagnoses or profiles consist of, what they mean and how an inclusive approach can be taken to enable and empower neurodiverse leaders, colleagues, students and visitors.
Find out more

This month, we’re reading| The Chimp Paradox:
Mind Management to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness

Steve Peters

Psychiatrist Steve Peters shares his phenomenally successful mind-management programme that has been used to help elite athletes and senior managers alike to conquer their fears and operate with greater control, focus and confidence.
Find out more

Issue #5: January 2022

Issue #5: January 2022

Blended working

Happy New Year and welcome back to the world of HE. If the holiday period is already starting to feel like a distant memory, grab a hot drink and take a break with this month’s edition themed around blended working.

This edition is packed full of tips and tricks to navigate blended working, as well as exploring what the future of work could look like. We have a range of original contributions from HE professionals across the sector as well as an article spotlight in which Amy Cuddy sheds light on ‘Pandemic Flux Syndrome’. Also, during February join us to celebrate LGBTQ+ History Month to understand how we can enhance the staff and student experience. 

Whether you’re reading this from your office, kitchen table, or home workspace, let’s remember to be kind to one another and take a moment to reflect. Have a great week – Chiara Singh, Editor, Development Monthly

In this issue…

Lead article | Approaches to navigating the blended working environment

Roseanna Cross and Jill Walsh, University of Bristol

Covid-19 has presented challenges not only in how we work but also how we undertake our lives; whether this is due to adapting to working remotely, juggling home-schooling with work, or keeping our remote teams connected with each other and with the wider organisation while still retaining a good balance between work and life. 
Find out more

Video | Changing jobs

Jim Irving, Solent University

Jim Irving, University Secretary and Registrar at Solent University, discusses his recent move into the role, his career journey and advice for those looking to follow in a similar path
Watch the video

Article spotlight | ‘Why this stage of the pandemic makes us so anxious’

Amy Cuddy and JillEllyn Riley, (Washington Post)

 Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, best known for her popularisation of ‘power posing’, highlights the issue of ‘pandemic flux syndrome’, with JillEllyn Riley.
Read the article

Video | Talking blended working

Mark Hollingsworth, University of Birmingham

Mark Hollingsworth, Director of Registry and Academic Affairs at the University of Birmingham, discusses blended working and offers advice to managers and teams, as we begin to establish a post-pandemic working environment. 
Watch the video

Opinion piece | Is the future of work blended?

Jill Walsh and Roseanna Cross, University of Bristol

The future of work, be it referred to as blended or hybrid, has been an often talked about subject over the last 24 months and one of the pandemic legacies that few leaders and managers might have anticipated when the mandate to work at home was given in March 2020. 
Read the article

Event spotlight | Understanding and enhancing the LGBTQ+ staff and student experience

Sean Russell, Get out Stay Out

Despite changes in the law over the years, LGBTQ+ staff and students continue to face major challenges affecting their work, employability and well-being.
This webinar will provide an opportunity to explore and discuss the LGBTQ+ experience in HE institutions and focus on strategies for enabling positive change to create cultures where LGBTQ+ colleagues and students can thrive
Find out more

Issue #4: December 2021

Annual wrap up

This month in Development Monthly, we’re looking back at some of our most popular content from the year, with highlights to help you plan and prepare for your future development goals ahead.

We’d also like to wish all of our readers a very happy Christmas and look forward to providing you with more content to support your HE career in 2022 – AUA Development Monthly team

In this issue…

AUA Mentoring

Matthew Maloney

In 2021 we launched a brand-new, sector-wide mentoring programme. The programme is an opportunity for you to use the mentor relationship to empower you on your career journey, improve your professional practice and support your professional development. As the largest association of HE professionals in the UK, with members in roles covering the full-breadth of professional services, the AUA is uniquely positioned to offer this programme.
Find out more

Lean Six Sigma for HE professionals

Luke Philimore and Alex Spencer

The University of Nottingham’s Senior Lean Practitioners, Luke Phillimore and Alex Spencer, talk about Lean Six Sigma and its effectiveness in HE, and the online courses they are currently offering online with the AUA.
Watch the video

Moving widening participation outreach online: Challenge or opportunity?

Jon Rainford

Education researcher and Sociologist Dr Jon Rainford sits down with Perspectives Editorial Chair, Matthew Andrews, to discuss his article from Perspectives: “Moving widening participation outreach online: Challenge or opportunity?”. Watch now

AUA Archive | Changing the lens on mental health

Alastair Campbell

For ten years Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair’s right hand man as communications strategist and chief spokesman, and remains a key figure on the political stage.

At our 2020 Annual Lecture, Campbell spoke about his own mental health, the challenges, and how he has grown, not in spite of, but because of them. Watch the video

Time for some quiet leadership?

Steph O’Halloran

The people-management challenges facing university leaders and managers are enormous, from motivating and supporting teams who now work from home for at least some of the time, to dealing with the mental health challenges that the impact of Covid-19 has had on so many people (as explored in earlier AUA blogs by Alison Levey and Pete Quinn).  So how do we ensure that those leaders and managers have the right qualities to effectively handle this paradigm shift in the world of work? Read the article

AUA CPD Planner video

Simon Moore

The AUA CPD Framework is a versatile tool that supports the career development of higher education professionals. It works on an organisational and individual level, for professionals at all career stages, and can be applied across all roles in the sector.

Take a look at how you can use the interactive CPD Planner to get outcomes tailored to you and your development needs.

Watch the video

Issue #3: November 2021

Sustainability in HE

This month in Development Monthly we are focusing on the theme of sustainability. Approaching the theme from two different perspectives, we, of course, look at issues around environmental sustainability, but we also broaden the theme to consider the sustainability of our sector and of our roles within it.

In this issue…

Sustainability in higher education

Andy Nolan

“Universities across the UK were prominent at COP26.
Our students protested and our academics gave evidence. In the most populous of COPs our universities were there. Never before has a COP meeting been such a circus. To those who were there – well done. You ensured that leaders, politicians and civil servants knew just how important all this is.
We saw Glasgow packed and the Glasgow pact signed but just as the final cards were being played our croupier, Alok Sharma, admitted it nearly all fell apart as China and India played aggressive hands and the pact nearly cracked. The phasing down, as opposed to phasing out, of coal was a significant and defining moment for the conference but also the Paris Agreement.” Read the article

Opinion Piece | Are our roles sustainable? Challenges for Professional Services Staff

Lydia Crow

In sharing this piece we wanted to start a conversation around the challenges we experience in our professional environments and the impact that they have on us as HE professionals. Lydia has shared some of her thoughts on the role that language plays in shaping this environment. What are your thoughts?

In November 2019, I hosted a session at the AUA Autumn Conference focusing on Challenges for Professional Services Staff, badged broadly as Sustainable Staff.

Focusing on sector-wide structural issues, I was interested in critically analysing the language used to describe and communicate with Professional Services staff… Read the article

Changing jobs

Sam Bayley

Sam Bayley talks about his new role as Head of Faculty Operations at the University of York, his new responsibilities, moving into a more strategically-focused role and running multiple departments. Watch the video

Top five tips for sustainability in HE

Zoe Fraser

Zoe Fraser, Administration Manager in the Department of Archaeology, University of York, offers her advice on making HE departments more sustainable. Watch the video

Challenges of COP26: a higher education perspective

Amanda Woodman-Hardy, Angus Morrice & Sophie Ross-Smith

COP26 has been a fantastic two weeks for the Higher Education sector. It has been an opportunity to showcase world-changing research, increase awareness and interest in global environmental issues and highlight the importance of continued investment in this area.
For the Cabot Institute for the Environment, it has been a long and busy journey to COP26 which started 12 months before. But the Institute has been well rewarded over the two weeks with over a thousand mentions in the press, heightened engagement and interest in public engagement activities and social media and more awareness raising of the Institute as a serious player in the environmental knowledge, education and solutions space.
 Read the article

Article Spotlight | “Creating a sustainable future for higher education”

Alison Johns

In this piece, I aim to reflect on what we can learn from the past that will sustain us into the future. What has changed? What remains the same? What cuts to the core of the higher education endeavour? What should we expect in the future? Read the article (Perspectives Journal)

Issue #2: October 2021

Future skills

What skills do HE professionals need to master in order to prepare for the future world of work? This is the question we asked contributors to the second issue of Development Monthly.

In this issue…

Skills for the future

Dame Shirley Pearce, DBE

“The world in which we work is changing all the time. This continuous change is having an impact on the skills we need in all parts of the HE workforce. It should influence the way we educate new staff and the way we support the continuous professional development of everyone in HE. The skills needed for any job have always been changing and developing. But right now, it seems that the rate of change is becoming so great we should intensify our efforts to ensure we don’t expect new skills to be assimilated by ‘learning on the job’ Read the full article

Creating an inclusive environment

Helen Curtis

I recently attended a conference entitled ‘Living the Dream’ discussing how to think about equality and diversity more strategically and build an inclusive environment. A question I have been asking myself is how do we as leaders, managers, and members of the HE community work towards inclusion? To this end I have been conducting a review in the Bristol Medical School to understand what inclusion is and what does it mean to our staff, an important question we need to answer if we are planning on working towards creating an inclusive environment. Read the full article

Changing jobs

Roscoe Hastings

Roscoe Hastings, Director of Academic Services at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, discusses his recent job transition, his motives, covid’s impact, his career objectives while also offering advice to HE professionals looking to follow in a similar path. Watch the video now

Top five tips for modernising through automation

Jordan Kirkwood

Jordan Kirkwood, Head of Operations at King’s College London, offers his advice on the basic elements of using automation tools, and their value in modernising processes in HE. Watch the video

An engineering approach to HE project management

Hazel Clifton

Project management in Engineering is based on the approach of iterative design and development. But what happens when you apply this methodology to a brand new Higher Education Provider?
You get mock terms, a more professional and streamlined organisation, and a unified staff body with common goals and visions Read the full article

Article Spotlight | University administrators have worked to promote diversity in higher education”

Heidi Flanagan

As Black History Month draws to an end, Heidi Flanagan would like to thank her white colleagues in university administration for being allies during a tough year. Read the full article (Wonkhe)

Issue #1: September 2021

What now? Shaping our future

Each issue of Development Monthly will be structured around a broad theme and in our first issue we wanted to take some time to pause and reflect on the events, experiences and learning from the last 18 months or so. As we think about the beginning of new academic year, we ask ‘What now?’ and consider how best to shape our future as HE professionals.

In this issue…

Autumn is here

Sara Corcoran

For the education sector September/October is the start of the new year, with all the hopes, aspirations and positive commitments that new beginnings bring. In the calendar year, this period of late summer and early autumn is the time when we gather in the fruits of our efforts, a time of harvest.
Read the full article

Taster webinar | Your mental wellbeing beyond the pandemic

Mariyana Bushara

In her webinar, Mariyana Bushara from the University of Sussex discusses and provides advice on managing your mental wellbeing beyond the pandemic.
Watch the webinar

Article spotlight | Meeting the needs of professional services staff

Susannah Marsden

In this article on Wonkhe, Susannah asks if the pandemic experience can help better define the role of professional services staff in HE.
Read on Wonkhe

Top five tips for hybrid working

Vikki Goddard

In this video, Vikki gives us a rundown of her top 5 tips for returning to campus and hybrid working.
Watch the video

AUA CPD planner

Simon Moore

Take a look at how you can use the automated CPD planner to get personalised advice on how to improve your performance and professional practice.
Watch the video

Changing jobs

Rosella Brennan

Rosella Brennan talks about her recent transition from Coventry University to Head of Registry Services at Arden University.
Watch the interview

Perspectives Interviews | Moving widening participation outreach outline

Jon Rainford, in interview with Matthew Andrews

In the first of our new Perspectives series, Matthew Andrews interviews Jon Rainford about his popular article on moving widening participation outreach online during the pandemic.
Watch the interview