news & articles

Better to be kind, than to be right?

Jun 27, 2019
In working with Senior Leadership teams and individuals, we will often discuss how they can get the outcome they really want, if they are willing to give up the need to be seen to be right, and to “win”. I have sat in countless meetings where all parties could have walked away with exactly what they wanted, but their need to be publicly seen to be correct got in the way. I have often seen that the need to be “right” holds you back as a leader – you can’t bring people with you if you are only focused on yourself.

University governance: Some interesting questions from America

Jun 25, 2019
In a recent Wonkhe article, Peter Eckel of the University of Pennsylvania raises some interesting questions from American experience. He argues that, “like boards in England, American boards too often have been focused on oversight. It’s the essential stewardship role of governance. Yet, such a narrow focus that reviews reports, signs off on proposals, ensures compliance and ticks boxes is a lost opportunity. Too many boards in America… are mired in mediocrity driven by such a focus.”

A developmental and provocative approach to HE and the arts: an analysis

Jun 18, 2019
One of the most important and indeed provocative papers is Being in Tune: Seeking ways of addressing isolation and dislocation through engaging in the arts. Its intent is to encourage discussion and debate, to allow us the space, time and opportunity to ask challenging questions about the arts and our responsibilities to society so that we can “respond creatively to the massive changes taking place in society.” This “Provocation” is full of passion, energy, ideas, some frustration and just a smidge of righteous indignation.

How Will I Know (if my Development Director is doing a good job)?

Jun 18, 2019
For some reason, the words of the Whitney Houston track, “How Will I Know?” came to mind as I pondered the question, “How will I know if our new Director of Development is doing a good job?” The leader also asked, *“What will the Director of Development need from me?”*. They were acutely aware that success didn’t rest alone with the new Director of Development; the leader had a crucial role to play.

Questions governors should be exploring - a digest.

Jun 14, 2019
Many university governing bodies and their committees will be meeting over the coming weeks for the final governance meetings of the 2018/19 academic year. The Augar review and Brexit will be key features of these meetings. For lay governors digesting the sheer volume of information available, understanding the implications for their particular institution and knowing what questions to ask will be key.

Augar’s implications for international student recruitment

Jun 07, 2019
The instinctive reaction for many universities when there is a threat to domestic fee income (whether triggered by a reduction in price, a demographic dip or some other factor) is to look to international student recruitment to ‘plug the gap’. There are no caps on numbers and no caps on fees to worry about. But it’s important for leaders to take a step back and ask some searching questions rather than launch into a ‘knee-jerk’ international student recruitment drive.

A balanced approach to portfolio reviews

Jun 06, 2019
We aren’t the only ones to notice the Augar Review’s attempt to redraw the lines over institutional autonomy. There is now an expectation that universities will no longer have complete freedom over their own portfolios, but instead be expected to focus on courses that create valuable outcomes. Given that much of the sector’s income is funded one way or another by taxpayers, this is probably inevitable.

Augar inadvertently reveals HE’s failure in marketing on access and participation

Jun 05, 2019
We are spending more than £1,000,000,000 pa on highly local campaigns run by individual universities, often with a focus on teenagers and with Access Agreements that are to be polite, thin on the ground when it comes to KPIs and real achievements.