Future HE Professionals

The AUA has a heritage of almost 60 years connecting and developing higher education professionals in support of the UK higher education sector.

The AUA has a heritage of almost 60 years connecting and developing higher education professionals in support of the UK higher education sector.


‘Future HE Professionals’ is a major research project which concluded in summer 2020.

The project involved background research, an extensive ‘Future HE Professionals’ survey, and in-depth stakeholder engagement.

Read an introduction to the project.

Read about the project findings.

Project aims:

  • Identify future development needs – the skills and attributes to equip professional services for the changing future of HE
  • Understand how professionals services roles are developing in the context of a rapidly changing sector
  • Support the continued success of UK higher education

On Tuesday, 24 November 2020 AUA is hosting an online conference with opportunities to reflect further on the theme of Future HE Professionals.

Find out more about conference programme and make a booking.

Reflect on the project findings – use our discussion prompts to explore the implications:

• for your own professional and career development
• for your professional development practice
• for your organisation


Explore the Future HE Professionals project reports


Discussion Prompts

The following questions are designed to help you explore the outputs from the Future HE Professionals project.

We hope they are helpful prompts to provoke discussion in your organisation/team and to help you reflect on your own professional and career development.

Discussion topics for individuals
  • Reflecting on the future work ‘megatrends’ summarised in Future HE Professionals – the future of work, how far do these resonate with your expectations for the future of working life?  What additional trends are you observing?  What are the implications for your role and your future career?
  • How do you foster your professional development?  How far do you agree with the views expressed in Future HE Professionals – what our survey revealed? What actions are you taking to prepare yourself for the future nature of work/future work patterns?  Are you taking sufficient personal responsibility for your own career development?  Where might you find additional support inside or outside your institution?
  • Future HE Professionals – insights from stakeholders points towards significantly increased flexibility in the future HE workforce, including professional agility, more cross-functional/multi skilled working and reduced job demarcation/silo working.  Are you well-placed professionally to respond to these trends? What other insights in this report could support your development?  What are the implications for prioritising your own CPD?
  • How can you be better prepared for the changing future of HE?  How might the findings in this project help inform your responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, thinking of implications for your role?  What positive action could you take in response to the findings in this project? 

AUA can support your professional development. Find out more here.

Discussion topics for HR/Organisational Development teams
  • Reflecting on the future work ‘megatrends’ summarised in Future HE Professionals – the future of work, how far do these resonate with your expectations for the future of working life?  What additional trends are you observing?  What are the implications for those working in HR/organisational development?
  • How do you support development needs in the professional services?  How far do the views expressed in Future HE Professionals – what our survey revealed fit with professional services opinions in your own institution?  How do you know? Do you routinely seek feedback from professional services on development issues?  What actions are you taking to prepare your professional services teams for the future nature of work/future work patterns?  Do you have the balance right in your institution between management support and personal responsibility for career development?
  • Future HE Professionals – insights from stakeholders points towards significantly increased flexibility in the future HE workforce, including professional agility, more cross-functional/multi skilled working and reduced job demarcation/silo working.  Are you fostering these approaches in professional services?  What other insights in this report could inform your work in organisational development?
  • How can you better prepare your professional services teams for the changing future of HE?  How might the findings in this project help inform your responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, thinking of implications for professional services?  What positive action could you take in response to the findings in this project?

AUA can help you support and develop your professional services teams.  Find out more here.

Discussion topics for Leaders and Managers
  • Reflecting on the future work ‘megatrends’ summarised in Future HE Professionals – the future of work, how far do these resonate with your expectations for the future of working life?  What additional trends are you observing?  What are the implications in your role as a leader/manager? How do you support development needs in your team? How far do the views expressed in Future HE Professionals – what our survey revealed fit with opinions in your team?  How do you know? What actions are you taking to prepare your team for the future nature of work/future work patterns?  Do you have the balance right between management support and personal responsibility for career development?
  • Future HE Professionals – insights from stakeholders points towards significantly increased flexibility in the future HE workforce, including professional agility, more cross-functional/multi skilled working and reduced job demarcation/silo working.  Are you fostering these approaches in your team?  What other insights in this report could inform your work as a leader/manager?
  • How can you better prepare your team for the changing future of HE?  How might the findings in this project help inform your responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, thinking of implications for your team?  What positive action could you take in response to the findings in this project?

AUA can help you support and develop your team. Find out more here.

Discussion topics for Senior Professional Services Leaders
  • Reflecting on the future work ‘megatrends’ summarised in Future HE Professionals – the future of work, how far do these resonate with your expectations for the future of working life?  What additional trends are you observing?  What are the implications for those in leadership and management roles in professional services?
  • What commitment exists in your institution supporting development in professional services?  How far do the views expressed in Future HE Professionals – what our survey revealed fit with professional services opinions in your own institution?  How do you know? What actions are you taking to prepare your professional services teams for the future nature of work/future work patterns?  Do you have the balance right in your institution between management support and personal responsibility for career development?
  • Future HE Professionals – insights from stakeholders points towards significantly increased flexibility in the future HE workforce, including professional agility, more cross-functional/multi skilled working and reduced job demarcation/silo working.  If you are in a leadership role are you fostering these approaches in professional services?  What changes might be required in leadership/management practice and what are the implications for your own development and that of your senior team?
  • How can you better prepare your professional services teams for the changing future of HE?  How might the findings in this project help inform your responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, thinking of implications for professional services?  What positive action could you take in response to the findings in this project?

AUA can help you support and develop your professional services teams.  Find out more here.