Announcing the refreshed AUA values

Mark Crittenden MAUA | Head of Student Centres, University of Greenwich, Member of the AUA Board of Trustees

Earlier in the year you might have spotted an opportunity to get involved in reviewing the AUA professional values. Or you might have been one of the 600-odd members who responded to the member survey.

The group has now completed its work, and now it’s been approved by the Board of Trustees, I’m really proud and delighted to present to you here our new values.

As AUA members we are committed to
1. Developing our own and others’ professional practice
2. Actively championing a professional culture of equality, diversity and inclusion
3. Advancing education for public benefit through sharing professional knowledge and practice
4. Working to the highest standards of fair, ethical and transparent professional behaviour

I hope that these feel as right to you as they do to me.

One of our group members, Jenny Wragge, has written wittily here about the process of getting involved in the group – we did all our work remotely – but I want to talk about the values themselves, because we had so many interesting conversations.

When we first met, everyone in the group felt that our ‘old’ values worked for them, but we did agree that they felt a little tired. And according to the survey results, that’s what you thought too.

In time honoured fashion we decided to consult with you, our members. But we were blown away by the quality of the engagement from you. 93% of you supported our existing values, and 87% of you thought that they were still relevant, a very strong endorsement and indication that they had stood the test of time. And it was powerful to read about how much the values mattered to you. Here are just a few of the things you said.

‘Affirms and reminds me that I am part of a collegiate community with shared goals that contribute to improvement and high standards in my own practice and the wider HE community’

‘A good way of looking at what my career should aim to be’

‘Having worked in HE for over 30 years, these values have always remained strong in me. The AUA therefore embodies my approach to working in HE’

‘The values influence how we work on a day to day basis, shape attitudes and provide points of reference on how to act in a variety of situations’

‘The AUA values are significant guidelines for my professional and personal approach to my work. They are ethical and realistic; they are supportive to me as an HE professional’

‘I feel proud to be associated with a body which represents my profession, supports personal and professional development, and promotes our values and contribution across the sector’


I am proud to be an administrator in a University. And I like that the statements support this professional pride’

But, echoing the feelings of our group, many of you felt that the wording was inelegant and over-wordy. So we knew that we had some wordsmithing to do.

In the survey the group suggested adding a final value. We wanted to get to the heart of the matter. What are we here for? We asked you what you thought of the following statement.

AUA members are individually and collectively committed to: Their professional contribution to the academic mission of higher education: that is, the generation, transmission and application of knowledge for the furtherance of the public good.

75% of you supported this, but we were roundly and rightly taken to task about the complex wording. However, on the essential point of whether the purpose of our profession is ultimately to further the public good, you overwhelmingly agreed.

So then began the task of reworking the wording of the values, retaining the essential meaning, making them fresh, active, succinct and polished – and weaving in public benefit.

There’s one more thing that needs a special mention. You might notice that the new values just say ‘education’ not ‘higher education’. This is for two reasons. The first is that so many of you felt that this is, these days, anachronistic, when so many of our institutions offer much wider programmes. The second is that it’s ‘education’ not ‘higher education’ that’s written into our legal charitable object. So making this change now will mean that we can hold fast to our values but still respond to changing times.

So many thanks to our hard working and thoughtful group members; my fellow Trustee Sara Corcoran (Suffolk), together with Catherine Cobbett, (Leeds Trinity) Saad Mahmood (SAE), Jenny Wragge (MMU) and Chris Clements (City). And many thanks to the AUA staff team that we worked with: Amanda Shilton Godwin, Jane Reid, and Laura Harper, and to Andrew West, the AUA’s strategic adviser. It was great working with you all.

PS : For those who want to do the comparison for themselves – here are the old values.

The AUA exists to advance and promote the professional recognition and development of all who work in professional services roles in higher education, and to be an authoritative advocate and champion for the sector.

AUA members are individually and collectively committed to:
o The continuous development of their own and others’ professional knowledge, skills and practices;
o Actively championing equality of educational and professional opportunity;
o The advancement of higher education through the robust application of professional knowledge, skills and practices;
o The highest standards of fair, ethical and transparent professional behaviour.

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