The AUA CPD Framework

What is the CPD Framework?

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.

The Framework adds a new behavioural perspective to career development which complements and enhances the more familiar information provided by job descriptions and personal specifications.

It provides:

  • A model of professional behaviours
  • A broad structure to help your institutions identify the CPD needs of professional services staff, and plan and deliver tailored development activities
  • A broad structure for individuals (you) to help them identify their own CPD needs and plan personal professional development
  • Flexibility for local tailoring so your institution can substitute your own CPD processes and documentation, capability frameworks, organisational values and behaviours while still benefiting from the broader framework
  • The basis for a common national approach to CPD for professional services staff in UK higher education

The professional behaviours

This model of professional behaviours highlights behaviour patterns that distinguish effective performance in HE professional services roles. The professional behaviours were developed through desk research, consultation questionnaires, workshops and focus groups which first took place in 2008.  A total of 96 professional services staff representing 48 HEIs were involved in generating the behaviours.  The model forms part of the AUA CPD Framework originally published in 2009, and was revised and refreshed in 2016.

Each behavioural category has been considered at three levels.

Self: behaviours that may be observed whatever the working situation

Others: behaviours that may be observed when interacting with and influencing others, or when managing colleagues

Organisation: behaviours that may be observed when influencing at organisational level or representing the organisation

The framework also identifies behaviours that may indicate a need for further development for each of the behavioural groups. These are offered as a positive tool for self-assessment and reflection.

The behaviours are not the tasks associated with a particular job. They identify how an individual does the job. The behaviours are universal across all roles, though some are very much more important in some jobs than others. The behavioural framework has been designed to clarify what individuals can do to develop in their jobs and beyond – and ultimately to deliver their organisation’s strategic plan. This framework provides a clear steer on key and valued behaviours. It does not assume that these are the only effective behaviours. No attempt has been made to define the behaviours required at different levels due to the diverse nature of the HE sector and of the needs of individual institutions within it. Institutions may wish to develop the framework in this way for local use, thereby tailoring the levels and requirements to their own specific organisational structure, culture, environment and objectives.

logo cpd framework engaging with the wider context

Using the Framework

As an Individual

It works for you as individual, by enabling you to analyse your behaviour in a range of situations and clearly identify areas for improvement. You can use it to:

  • Identify the behaviours that are relevant to your job
  • Identify your personal CPD needs
  • Develop these behaviours and improve your performance
  • Identify ways to build on and maximise your existing strengths
  • Seek structured feedback from others
  • Provide structured feedback to your colleagues

For your organisation and people

For organisations, the Framework gives you a roadmap to make sure the development opportunities you offer staff individually, as teams, departments or whole institutions, will allow them to realise their potential and progress their careers. You can use it to:

  • Design specific learning and development activities to improve individual and organisational performance
  • Focus on the behavioural requirements of a job in an objective and specific way when recruiting and selecting
  • Support the development of staff to prepare them to compete for more senior roles 
  • Demonstrate to potential employees that they will be offered excellent personal and professional development opportunities, particularly if your organisation chooses to work towards the AUA Mark of Excellence

For comprehensive guidance on using the Framework, please look at our Practical guide to success. If you would like hard copies, please email

You may wish to look at examples of how some institutions have worked with the Framework, examples of how it can be used throughout the employee lifecycle as well as our Framework Resources.

Creative Commons License

The AUA CPD Framework documentation by the Association of University Administrators is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are permitted to copy this work or adapt this work for use within your own organisation, provided it is not used for commercial purposes, permission is received from the AUA, and that the AUA is attributed as the original source of the work.

Please contact the AUA to obtain the permissions wording that must appear on adapted documentation, or for queries regarding the distribution or re-use of material.

Develop with the AUA

Being aware of own behaviour and mindful of how it impacts on others, enhancing personal skills to adapt professional practice accordingly.

Providing the best quality service to external and internal clients. Building genuine and open long-term relationships in order to drive up service standards.

Taking a holistic view and working enthusiastically to analyse problems and to develop workable solutions. Identifying opportunities for innovation.

Being open to and engaging with new ideas and ways of working. Adjusting to unfamiliar situations, shifting demands and changing roles.

Identifying and making the most productive use of resources including people, time, information, networks and budgets.

Enhancing your contribution to the organisation through an understanding of the bigger picture and showing commitment to organisational values.

Showing commitment to own ongoing professional development. Supporting and encouraging others to develop their professional knowledge, skills and behaviours to enable them to reach their full potential.

Working collaboratively with others in order to achieve objectives.  Recognising and valuing the different contributions people bring to this process.

Consistently meeting agreed objectives and success criteria. Taking personal responsibility for getting things done.