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Advance HE

Frequently asked questions


About Advance HE, formed in March 2018 by the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education:

Name and background


How did the merger come about?

The merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education followed the recommendations of the Bell Review for a single sector agency for equality and diversity, learning and teaching, and leadership and governance in higher education.
All three agencies which have formed Advance HE have great track records in their respective fields. They are stronger together – enriched by their combined commitment and expertise in Advance HE’s more rounded and complete offer.
How did the name Advance HE come about?
The name ‘Advance HE’  followed consultation between the three agency boards and reflects Advance HE’s mission to champion the continuous enhancement of teaching and learning, equality and diversity, and leadership and governance in higher education, both within the UK and globally.
Does the new agency have charitable status?
Like its forerunners, Advance HE is a charity committed to the public good. The Charities Commission for England and Wales, and the Scottish Charity Regulator have approved Advance HE’s charitable status.
What’s Advance HE’s position in the sector?
Advance HE is ‘of and for the sector’, with a board that is representative of the broad cross-section of organisations engaged with Advance HE, including representatives from UUK and GuildHE who originally formed the respective agencies and have supported the merger from the outset.


Leadership, organisation and structure


Who leads Advance HE?

Alison Johns is the chief executive of Advance HE. She was previously the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation.
Advance HE’s Chief Executives Group has been appointed. More details can be found here.
What governance arrangements are in place?
The board currently consists of nine members, including Nigel Carrington, who is chair of the board. One board member was nominated by each of the three legacy agency boards. UUK and GuildHE nominated a board member each. An open recruitment process was then undertaken, from which four more members were recruited. A further recruitment process is currently underway to ensure the board has the right collective skills and experience.

Current work, consultation and continuity


What are the arrangements for transition to a new membership model?


During 2018-19 we will deliver a transitional range of products and services. There will be a further consultation later this year to determine our integrated membership model and offer for the academic year 2019-20.

When will the sector be consulted?
An independent consultation agency has undertaken one-to-one qualitative interviews with a cross-section of vice-chancellors representative of the widest extent of the members of the three organisations.
The consultation is an iterative process, ensuring the insight from each stage feeds into the development of the next stage. It includes a quantitative survey that will be open to a wide range of stakeholders.
The outcomes will inform Advance HE’s membership offer, range of associated products and services and structure for the academic year 2019-20.
How will the core work of ECU, HEA and LFHE continue under Advance HE? 
Advance HE will continue the ECU’s work on equality, diversity and inclusion across all four nations of the UK, including colleges in Scotland, as well as its international partnerships. The Athena SWAN and Race Equality Charters will remain a key focus of these efforts.
The HEA Fellowship scheme, aligned to the Professional Standards Framework (PSF), will be retained. HEA Fellowship post-nominals, will also be unaffected by the merger. Institutions with HEA Accredited programmes will continue to confer HEA Fellowship on successful participants on those programmes.
Advance HE will continue the Leadership Foundation’s work on leadership, governance and management, including delivery of flagship programmes such as Aurora and the Top Management Programme.

Is the ECU’s work and partnership with Scottish colleges continuing in Advance HE? 

Yes, Scottish colleges are key stakeholders for Advance HE and we recognise the differences in the college context in Scotland and the necessity and value of our partnership with the college sector.
We will build on ECU’s relationships and commitments to Scottish colleges.

Institutional Membership 2018-19


What are the arrangements for a transition to a new membership model?

The chief executive has contacted institutions with the details of Advance HE’s membership for 2018-19. This will be a transitional year and Advance HE has undertaken to give a price reduction on current membership fees. Advance HE will be consulting on a new membership model for 2019-20 later this year.

Advance HE is a not-for-profit organisation created from the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to improve outcomes for the benefit of students, staff and society.

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We are a membership organisation of and for a sector that has some of the brightest minds in the UK.


Our members are key to our strategy and form a community of higher education institutions with a clear commitment to and experience of developing leadership, governance and management capabilities at all levels. Academic and professional services staff from member institutions contribute to our programmes, projects and research and advise on benefits and services.


Find out more about Membership


  • Membership benefits

    • 25% discount on our open and in-house programmes and consultancy
    • a free consultancy day
    • exclusive access to research publications, development resources and funding opportunities
    • free regional events
    • funding for Staff Development Forum and MASHEIN activity
    • members’ mailing lists, newsletters and magazine
    • participation in our development networks


  • How to join

    • Membership is open to all higher education providers and related sector organisations on an annual or three-yearly subscription basis.
    • We have 154 members with around a third taking advantage of the 10% discount offered by three-year subscriptions.


  • Membership benefits

    • Research and innovation: Access to our latest, highly-valued research, Leadership Insights, Getting to Grips series and practical development project resources.
    • More…

    • Management Development Resources: Flexible workshop materials on key leadership and management development topics, for you to deliver in-house to suit your own contexts NEW: ‘Caught in the Middle’. 
    • More…

    • The Knowledge Bank: Save time with these extensive multi-media training resources for HR, staff development and OD professionals, covering key leadership and management theory and practice.
    • More…

  • Get in touch

    Meet the membership team, your national and regional contacts in the UK and Ireland, and LF networks.

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Advance HE
Leadership, Governance and Management

Peer House, 8-14 Verulam Street
London WC1X 8LZ

T: 020 3468 4810     F: 020 3468 4811

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