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Advance HE

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Frequently asked questions about the new sector agency formed by the merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education:

Name and background

  • How has the merger come about?
    The merger of the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education follows 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 forming Advance HE have great track records in their respective fields. But 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 new name follows 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 will lead Advance HE?
    Alison Johns is the chief executive of Advance HE. She was previously the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation.
  • What other interim senior appointments have been made to steer the transition to a single agency?
    David Ruebain, formerly chief executive of the Equality Challenge Unit, has been appointed Director of Equality Integration and Dr Mark Jones, formerly acting chief executive officer of the HEA, has been appointed Director for Agency Integration for the new organisation. Both roles are in place until 31 July 2018 to support the transition to Advance HE.
  • How will the transition be managed?
    Advance HE has established a number of working groups to support the transition to a single agency. After vesting day the Advance HE executive has established the new structure for the organisation. The revised structure for Advance HE will be in place and operational from Wednesday 1 August 2018.
  • What governance arrangements are planned?
    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.
  • What is the process for the agencies to come to together as one entity?
    The Higher Education Academy provided the legal structure for the new organisation. Staff from the Equality Challenge Unit and Leadership Foundation under TUPE regulations on vesting day. The organisations now trade as Advance HE.

Summary: The senior leadership and working groups are already into the detail of their planning and are making very positive strides towards the operational “go-live” date of 1 August 2018.

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 Advance HE be operational?
    The revised structure for Advance HE agency will be in place for Wednesday 1 August 2018 following a period of sector (in the UK and internationally) consultation.
  • When will the sector be consulted?
    An independent consultation agency has been contracted to undertake 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 will be an iterative process, ensuring the insight from each stage feeds into the development of the next stage. It will likely include 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.
  • Will ECU’s work and partnership with Scottish colleges continue in Advance HE?
    Yes, Scottish colleges are key stakeholders in the merger process and we recognise the differences in the college context in Scotland and the necessity and value of our partnership with the college sector. Understanding the landscape and context of education in Scotland will be a strength of the new organisation, and 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 is contacting 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.

What is the timeline for the merger?

December 2017

  • Boards unanimous vote to merge

January 2018

  • Charity Commission approval
  • Advance HE name announced

March 2018

  • Vesting day and sector consultation starts

April/May 2018

  • HEA/LFHE membership letters for 2018-19 at reduced membership rate
  • Internal restructure begins

July 2018

  • Restructure complete

August 2018

  • Advance HE ready for business – Transition year Autumn 2018
  • Consult and build new membership model for year 2019-20

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 in March 2018. Our purpose is to advance the professional practice of higher education to improve outcomes for the benefit of students, staff and society.
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June 2018