Improving professional services practice and developing professional services performance

AHEP Consulting is about improving professional services practice and developing professional services performance. It is a consulting practice that is ‘of the sector for the sector’ – our Consultants are practitioners in higher education administration and management and they are members of our Association. For clients this means we combine the benefits of an external perspective with sector specific expertise. Any financial surplus derived from AHEP Consulting is reinvested to support the AHEP’s charitable objectives – connecting and developing HE professionals – for the benefit of our members in support of the sector.

Our services | how we can help you

Strategic development of student and academic administration including Registry/Faculty/School/Department structures, professional services organisational models, service standards and monitoring

Development advice, support and reviews of academic quality processes and academic regulations

Reviewing your baseline compliance obligations/options/opportunities

Improving your practice in equality, diversity and inclusion, including equality impact assessment 

Strategic advice and operational reviews of student recruitment and admissions, including working with international agents

Developing your international strategy

Corporate and academic governance reviews and guidance

Best practice in committees management and administration

Risk management and reviews/advice in compliance areas like data protection

Strategic advice and reviews of student services operations/functions, including services benchmarking and international best practice

Reviews of student affairs administration eg student complaints and academic appeals

Evaluating your student employability offer

Developing service standards in academic administration/student services, including service monitoring and evaluation best practice

Using the AHEP Professional Framework to embed positive behavioural attributes that drive high performing staff, building up to the AHEP Mark of Excellence

Tailored CPD for your professional services staff function specific and/or focussed on professional skills and behaviours.  Skills-related topics include ‘Delivering excellent service’, ‘Guiding your team through change’.

Contact us | how can we help you?

If you’d like to find out how AHEP Consulting can help your organisation or are interested in becoming a consultant for the AHEP, email  consulting@ahep.ac.uk, or if you would like to have a conversation, call 0161 528 0531.

AHEP Consulting also offers a team of qualified coaches with extensive experience of supporting personal, professional and career development.  Alongside their coaching expertise, our team of coaches bring a depth of HE sector understanding and experience.

AHEP Consulting is committed to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion within our consulting practice, reflecting AHEP’s long-standing commitment to equality expressed in the Association’s values.  Find out more using this link.

Case studies | recent projects

Case Study

Post-92 University

Administrative Services Review

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We worked with a post-92 university to review the effectiveness of its administrative services, including considering organisational structures, operating model/business processes, Faculty/Central interface, and IT/digital enhancements.

Key features included:

  • Working closely with the university on a comprehensive review design, to suit the institutional context and building on previous improvement work.
  • Expert input from a small team of AHEP consultants, with a depth of experience in Faculty administration, Registry and Admissions.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including individual and group meetings – all conducted remotely.
  • A range of practical recommendations for improvement – immediate enhancements alongside medium/longer term options for the university.
  • A comprehensive written report including expert analysis and recommendations for change.

“This is a very insightful piece of work and will drive many of the changes that we need to make.”

Case Study

Buckinghamshire New University

Development of a development framework for Professional Services Employees

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We worked with Buckinghamshire New University on a development framework for its Professional Services Employees (PSEs), setting out skills and behaviours to underpin recruitment and selection, performance management, and succession planning and talent management processes.

Key features included:

  • Expert consulting input, drawing on AHEP’s strong track record in professional development.
  • Considerable stakeholder engagement, including a series of focus groups on campus with colleagues across the institution.
  • A flexible project timeline to suit the University’s requirements, including an interim report to support executive decision-making.
  • Practical ‘pick-up-and-use’ resources to facilitate effective implementation.

What really worked well was the consultants flexibility and ability to with with us in understanding our requirements. Also the quick turnaround of work when required.

Case Study

Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales

Partnership project to support mental health

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We worked with Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University and the University of South Wales to advise on the scope of a partnership project – with the local NHS – to improve student mental health provision in South East Wales.

Key features included:

  • Extensive stakeholder consultation across the project partnership, including individual and group meetings on campus.
  • Expert consulting input, including project-specific benchmarking.
  • Practical recommendations to support the partners in project initiation.
  • A comprehensive written report designed for the partnership steering group.

“The consultant’s sector knowledge and analysis was invaluable – enabling us to move a partnership involving three HE providers and the NHS into a new phase. Following a focussed initial piece of  work we were pleased to be able to continue working with AHEP Consulting taking our project forward.”

Case Study

Pre-92 University

Review of Admissions

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We worked with a pre-92 university to review the effectiveness of its Admissions arrangements, including organisational structures, operating model/business processes, IT support and service performance.

Key features included:

  • Working closely with the university on a comprehensive review design, to suit the institutional context and building on previous improvement work within the university.
  • Expert input from AHEP Consulting, including proven HE admissions experience.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including individual and group meetings – all conducted remotely.
  • A range of practical recommendations for improvement, including immediate ‘quick wins’ alongside medium/longer term options.
  • A comprehensive written report – with the review turned around start-finish within a month.

“Thank you for the review – the report was really well received.”

Case Study

University College of Estate Management

Supporting Equality Impact

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We worked with the University College of Estate Management to develop their expertise and experience in the area of Equality Impact Assessment.  Drivers included regulatory expectations alongside fostering good educational/academic practice.

Key features included:

  • Input from an AHEP consultant with a depth of expertise in HE equality and diversity issues.
  • Hands-on training to build confidence with direct relevance to the institution’s mission and practice.
  • A client-centred approach including close liaison with the institution throughout.
  • Practical ‘pick-up-and-use’ resources and templates to facilitate effective implementation.

“It was great to have the consultant’s expertise. The training was really well received and colleagues are now enthusiastic to get started. We will definitely be using AHEP Consulting again an will recommend to others.”

Case Study

Middlesex University

Introducing streamlining and workflow into course approval procedures

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We worked with Middlesex University to develop a workflow solution for its course/programme approval and closure processes, incorporating streamlining and process enhancement, aligned to the University’s revised governance approval mechanisms.

Key features included:

  • A client-centred approach including close liaison with the University throughout, and direct consultant input on campus.
  • A flexible project timeline to suit the University’s requirements within the pattern of the academic cycle.
  • An interim options report to support institutional decision-making. 

“Thank you again for all your work on this project – the forms and process look in good shape.  It’s been a pleasure to work with you – we could never have carved out the time to produce what you have.”

Case Study

University of Gloucestershire

Review of arrangements supporting academic quality and enhancements

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We worked with the University of Gloucestershire to review the impact and effectiveness of changes made to its academic governance, structures and quality-related processes arising from an institutional change project: Rethinking Enhancement.

Key features included:

  • Working closely with the University on a robust review design.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including individual and group meetings on campus.
  • Practical recommendations for improvement.
  • A comprehensive written report suited to the University’s executive/committee structure.

Meetings with the consultant were very professional, open and well-structured.

A really great report. Exactly what we needed.

Case Study


Professionalising Student Services
A feasibility study

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We worked with AMOSSHE – the Student Services Organisation to deliver a feasibility study aligned to AMOSSHE’s exploration of a competence framework to support Student Services professionals.  The work is set in the context of a rapidly changing landscape in UK HE and the agenda around the student experience growing in complexity and expectation.

Key features included:

  • Input from AHEP consultants with a depth of expertise in HE student affairs and in professional development practice.
  • A client-centred approach including speedy delivery of the end-of-project report in line with the requirements of the AMOSSHE Executive.
  • A combination of desk research and in-depth stakeholder consultation to ensure relevance and applicability.
  • A clear set of practical recommendations to assist AMOSSHE in considering the issues further and planning next steps.

Thank you very much for the work on this. The AHEP team has been extremely helpful every step of the way, especially with the understanding of such a tight timescale for delivery.

Case Study

Ravensbourne University

Review of corporate and academic governance

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We worked with Ravensbourne University London to review the efficacy of its corporate and academic governance arrangements.

Key features included:

  • Review of university documentation relating to governance.
  • Extensive stakeholder consultation, including observation of multiple meetings, on-campus and phone interviews and two online stakeholder surveys.
  • Expert consulting input from an experienced team of senior HE governance professionals.
  • Practical recommendations to support the University to consolidate good governance practice and plan for future improvements.
  • A comprehensive written report, referencing regulatory requirements/benchmarks, tailored for the Ravensbourne Board of Governors.

The Governance Effectiveness Review conducted by AHEP Consultants was a well-run process and their report has proved very useful in pointing to many improvements which we are now planning to make.

Case Study

Post ’92 University

Costs and compliance review of student-related services

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We worked with a post ’92 university to consider options for reducing student-related costs and services without jeopardising compliance with the HE regulatory framework.

Key features included:

  • Undertaking to keep the nature of the project confidential to a small number of senior managers.
  • Mapping service levels required for regulatory compliance, including aspects like OfS conditions of registration, Competition and Markets Authority, UKVI, Equality Act 2010, Education Act 1994, Safeguarding, Prevent, GDPR.
  • Commentary on services in scope, exploration of efficiencies and improved cost-effectiveness, including benchmarking service models.  Recommendations for compliant cost reduction.

“Thank you for your very thorough report.  You provided really helpful insight and the work was professional and competent.  It will provide a really strong basis for our future planning.”

AHEP Consultants | meet the team

AHEP Consultants are embedded in practice with broad experience of the realities of working in higher education. They work individually and as part of a team – our Managing Consultant provides oversight and quality control with the AHEP Office providing additional support. Being part of the AHEP, our Consultants have the backing of the Association’s 60+ year heritage.

Steve Smith
Managing Consultant
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Steve is a former Faculty Director of Operations at the University of Liverpool and has 18 years of senior leadership and management experience in HE following a 17 year career with Unilever. He has extensive experience and expertise in the design, planning, optimisation and management of a full range of professional services support for academics and students. This has incorporated detailed and widespread engagement with University planning processes and financial systems. Having also led a number of university wide projects, he is well positioned to advise on overall operational service design and efficiency, benchmarking, corporate governance processes, committee management and risk management. Steve has recently become a member of the AHEP Board of Trustees.

Jim Benson AUA Consultant
Jim Benson
Lead Consultant
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Jim has extensive experience in the HE sector, having worked in higher education for almost 30 years, and most recently holding the position of Secretary to Council and University Secretary at Brunel University from 2007-2018. Jim has a specialist interest in corporate and academic governance, strategic development, academic regulations and quality reviews, student and academic administration reviews, reviews of quality processes and regulations, and offering advice on statutory returns and stakeholder engagement.

Jacquelyn Bownes
Jacquelyn Bownes
Lead Consultant
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Jacquelyn has over 25 years experience as a learning and development specialist and leadership development consultant, across a breadth of organisations. Her particular specialism is one-one coaching and she is proud to be a former winner of the prestigious Executive Coach of the Year award from the Institute of Consulting. Jacquelyn has worked with for the past past 10 years – originally supporting the pilot and roll out the CPD Framework across the sector.  She is now an Advisor and Assessor for the AUA’s Mark of Excellence Award.  Jacquelyn is a PgDip qualified and accredited Coach and Coach Supervisor, a Myers Briggs and Emotional Intelligence qualified practitioner, a graduate member of the CIPD and also a BACP (MSc) qualified staff counsellor and psychotherapist.

David Law AUA Consultant
David Law
Lead Consultant
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During a career that has combined academic roles and administration/management, David has worked at five universities in the UK and spent a research sabbatical at Harvard. His particular area of expertise is strategic planning, particularly in international operations and partnerships. He was Academic Registrar at the Universities of Warwick and Hull and a PVC at Edge Hill University. Following (what was meant to be) retirement, David directed the Confucius Institute at Edge Hill for two years. He is also heavily involved in the AUA and is currently Principal Editor of Perspectives the AHEP journal.

Alison Levey AUA Consultant
Alison Levey
Lead Consultant
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Alison has worked as a senior manager in HE for nearly 20 years and has considerable experience in change management and strategic development, covering both pre- and post-1992 sectors. She has specialist expertise in line-managing across multi-site campuses and working with non-standard student populations such as part-time, mature adult learners and bespoke commissioned programmes for both public and private sectors.

Dr Andrew West
Andrew West
Lead Consultant
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Andrew is former University Secretary at the University of Sheffield. His career in Higher Education spans 30 years, including 11 years leading student-related services encompassing student recruitment and admissions, academic services and learning and teaching support, registry and student administration, careers and employability, and a broad range of student support and well being services.
A former Chair of AMOSSHE, The Student Services Organisation, Andrew has provided advice and consultancy at a wide range of institutions in England, Wales and Scotland, across all mission groups. He is a member of the Board of Governors of Leeds Beckett University, an Associate of Advance HE and a Halpin Consulting Fellow.

Joanne Tallentire
Lead Consultant
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Joanne has held senior roles leading Registry and Admissions functions for over 25 years, working both within Academic Secretariat and Marketing and Communications directorates. She has experience of leading cross-functional teams to deliver major change focused on service improvements for students and staff, and delivering institutional strategic objectives through enhanced governance, systems and processes within large-scale operational functions. In a varied career, Joanne has developed expertise in institutional governance, academic policies and regulations, quality assurance, student records, compliance and student casework. A short spell working as UCAS Senior Relationship Manager for the South of England (and the London region in particular) broadened Joanne’s specialist knowledge of HE admissions to encompass the perspective of schools and colleges, an area she continues to engage with in her role as a Governor at The Sixth Form College, Colchester. Joanne has a particular interest in the student journey, the experience of students from their first point of contact with HE as prospects through to graduation and alumni status, and the ways in which HE professional services in central and departmental roles work in partnership to provide a high quality student experience.

Pete Quinn AUA Consultant
Pete Quinn
Lead Consultant
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Pete had over 15 years’ experience of working in HE before becoming a Consultant in 2016. His specific focus is on equality, diversity and inclusion challenges including mental health and wellbeing, duty of care, diverse talent, allyship, addressing unconscious bias and inclusive teaching, learning and assessment. Pete has worked on these areas in the UK, Europe, in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Pete’s focus is on devising realistic strategic and operational approaches in ever-evolving and challenging circumstances. He does this with people throughout organisations whether this be Senior management, faculty, professional support or student support practitioners as well as outreach and marketing teams. Pete is a certified Coach and Mentor with the Chartered Management Institute.

Dawn Turpin AUA Consultant
Dawn Turpin
Lead Consultant
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Dawn has 20 years’ experience in leadership and management positions within the higher education sector with expertise in corporate and academic governance and regulatory compliance across UK nations, executive and non-executive recruitment, risk management, strategic programme management and information rights. Alongside her consultancy work, Dawn works part-time as Clerk to the Governing Body at Westminster School and is a lay representative for Health Education England

Mary Hughes
Lead Consultant
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Mary has extensive experience working in university administration and management having worked for over 30 years in a variety of higher education systems in the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom. Mary began her UK HE career at the University of Kent where she held a variety of posts before establishing Enrolment Management Services of which she was Director for seven years before becoming Academic Registrar. Mary has a keen interest in Strategic Enrolment Management. She has a breadth of experience across HE professional services and the student life cycle, with particular strengths in strategic development and organisational structures; governance and committee management; and the preparation of institutional/organisational strategic plans.

Tim Cobbett
Lead Consultant
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Tim has worked in registry and/or planning roles across six HEIs, along with a 3-year spell working as a UUK Policy Adviser.  He went freelance as an interim manager and consultant in 2015, focussing on consulting from 2017.  His consultancy work has covered a range of specialist areas including:  student systems and databases; administrative processes; data management; admissions; metrics and reporting; student dispute management; and academic governance. 

Sara Corcoran
Lead Consultant
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Sara has a public sector HR and Organisational Development background, with 20 years in Higher Education and more than a decade in the NHS. As Director of HR and OD at the University of Suffolk, Sara was a member of the senior executive group and attended the Board, playing a full part in the strategic leadership of the University.

Sara is energised to make the experience of work as good as it can be and she has a strong commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. Constants throughout her career have been the need to understand the wider stakeholder system, the need to support staff through change and the need to attend to team effectiveness, with a focus on interpersonal skills and communications.

Sara holds a Masters in Strategic Training & Development and a Masters in Educational Research. She is a Fellow of the CIPD and Co-Chair of the Organisational Development in Higher Education Network. She is an EMCC accredited Coach.

Roderick Smith
Lead Consultant
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Roderick Smith has a 25 year career in higher education professional services, building on an earlier period working in scientific publishing and as a consultant with a technical research association. His experience covers senior management positions within both academic departments and professional services. As Director of Operations for a large School of Engineering, his responsibilities included finance, HR, estates and facilities, health and safety, IT and technical services. In his most recent role as Director of Admissions at the University of Birmingham he spearheaded improvements in organisation, systems, regulatory compliance and customer services – with a continuous improvement mindset. He is adept at translating vision and strategy into practical operational planning. An effective and dynamic leader, he has the credibility to gain the confidence of colleagues at all levels. His excellent operational and organisational knowledge, coupled with strong sector networks, underpin the expert insight he provides as a consultant.

Alison Blackburn
Lead Consultant
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Alison’s career in HE extends over a period of 38 years. She has held a number of senior roles in UK universities, most recently as Registrar and Secretary at the University of Salford where she was a member of the Vice Chancellor’s Executive Team. As Registrar Alison was responsible for student administration, student experience and support, quality and enhancement, School operations, the Library, and the legal and compliance team. As University Secretary she advised the Chair of Council and ensured effective corporate governance.

Alison has provided advice and support to a wide range of higher education institutions and agencies nationally and internationally. She has a particular interest in quality and regulatory reviews and in corporate and academic governance.

Alison is a member of the governing body at Hartpury University and is a long-standing Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Reviewer. She has a Master’s Degree in Higher Education from the University of Manchester.

Interested in becoming an AHEP Consultant?
Please email consulting@ahep.ac.uk and a member of staff will pick this up.

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Contact us | how can we help you?

If you’d like to find out how AHEP Consulting can help your organisation or are interested in becoming a consultant for the AHEP, email  consulting@ahep.ac.uk, or if you would like to have a conversation, call 0161 528 0531.