Mark of Excellence

The AUA Mark of Excellence demonstrates investment in professional services staff in the application of the AUA CPD Framework.  It distinguishes a new level of commitment from institutions to the development of professional services staff, now and in the future.

Mark of Excellence

“The AUA’s Mark of Excellence provides a way for institutions to truly value and invest in their professional services colleagues. The Mark complements our shared interest in supporting the development of professional services staff, for AUA across all grades, and for Advance HE ensuring a leadership pipeline for the higher education sector.”
Alison Johns, Chief Executive, Advance HE


The AUA Mark of Excellence demonstrates an institutions investment in professional services staff in the application of the AUA CPD Framework.  It distinguishes a new level of commitment to the development of professional services staff, now and in the future.

The Mark of Excellence is a sign that your institution: 

  • Shows commitment to the development of professional services staff
  • Improves performance by investing in the effectiveness of professional services staff
  • Celebrates high quality education, training and development of professional services staff
  • Has excellent personal and professional development opportunities for potential employees

Since 2009 the AUA CPD Framework has provided higher education with a common approach to professional development and career progression for professional services staff.  It has had a significant impact on the higher education administration and management community having been used by over 50 organisations.  Working equally well at individual, team, departmental and institutional level for staff at all stages of career and specialism the Frameworks inherent flexibility has lent itself to inspiring and innovative applications. Institutions achieving the Mark show their commitment to working with the AUA professional values and can evidence how they have embedded the AUA CPD Framework into their professional staff development provision.

Current holders of the Mark of Excellence

“The Mark recognises, at a national level, the impact of the university’s ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’ on staff development which has been built upon the AUA CPD Framework and standards for professional services staff.” Clare Curran, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, Durham University
Find out more about Durham University’s approach

“The University of Bath ‘Effective Behaviours Framework’ is based on the on the AUA CPD Framework and has been enthusiastically embraced in the Academic Professional Services. I am delighted that the impact of this work has been recognised in the achievement of the Mark of Excellence; really effective performance by professional services is vital to the success and development of the University and this achievement will provide additional impetus to our plans to relaunch the Framework across the wider University.” Diane Aderyn, Director of Finance and Commercial Services, University of Bath
Find out more about the University of Bath’s experience

“We are proud to be the first post 92 university to achieve the Mark.  We are raising the professionalism of staff through engagement with the AUA professional body and their CPD Framework.  We explicitly mapped our LJMU values to the AUA professional behaviours to embed these in our high performance culture.” Meriel Box, Head of Leadership and Development Foundation, LJMU
Find out more about LJMU’s experience

“We’re both delighted and honoured to be awarded the Mark of Excellence. It is something we have been working towards for some time and to receive this recognition for our efforts is all the more poignant coming at such a challenging time for the sector and the whole country.

I think I can honestly say that I have seen evidence almost every day since the crisis hit of the value of the Framework and the positive impact it can have on an institution. For that reason, I would also say just how proud and grateful we are to have been part of such a worthwhile initiative.” Ian Darker, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary to Council, RVC
Find out more about RVC’s experience

aua mark of excellence - working towardsInstitutions working towards the Mark of Excellence

Brunel University London

University of Portsmouth

Mark of Excellence Team

Sara Corcoran | Link Trustee 

Sara joined the University of Suffolk (then UCS) as Director of HR 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.  She has an MSc in Strategic Training and Development from the University of Surrey and an MA in Educational Research from the University of Sussex.  Sara is a Fellow of the CIPD and a Trustee of the AUA.

Jacquelyn Bownes 

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.

Steph O’Halloran 

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.

Sabiha Patel 

Sabiha is an experienced university manager with over 20 years’ experience in the HE sector.  After a breadth of roles at the University of Central Lancashire, she joined the University of Leeds to strengthen her post-92 institutional knowledge with Russell Group university experience.  She currently serves as an Equality and Inclusion Manager leading the work of the Equality Policy Unit which supports colleagues at all levels to deliver the University’s Equality and Inclusion Strategy.  She works in collaboration with colleagues to mainstream and embed the University’s values of inclusiveness and the demonstration of such behaviours to strive towards achieving equality of opportunities and outcomes for staff and students from all types of backgrounds.

Sabiha is also Joint Institutional Champion for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education Women in HE Leadership programme, entitled ‘Aurora’.

She is a peer reviewer and assessor for the sector’s Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charters.  In addition, she acts as a mentor to colleagues committed to developing their HE administrative careers.

Jan Shine, FAUA 

Jan is an experienced  trainer, manager, coach and HR specialist with a background in higher education. Jan’s higher education 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 and is a Fellow of the AUA, a licensed Springboard trainer, an Associate with Programmes for Life and works with Adoption Services for Adults as a trainer and intermediary.

Contact us

If you would like to know more about the Mark of Excellence, contact our Professional Development Officer, Jo Forsyth.

Develop with the AUA