Member profile: Claire Povah

claire povah

Claire Povah (right) receives Lancaster University Outstanding Achievement Award 2016

Member Profile – Claire Povah

From London to Lancaster

My higher education career path started many years ago! Having worked in the private sector in London, I returned north to work at St Martin’s College (now University of Cumbria, another University in Lancaster (yes there are two).

Working closely with colleagues at Lancaster University in the Office for the Associated Institutions provided me with an enticing view into the hallowed world of HE administration (thank you Jim Wood). And guess what? I wanted in! I set myself the goal of one day working at Lancaster University and specifically in University House.

To achieve this goal I left my job and returned to full-time education at (yes you’ve guessed it) Lancaster University. Returning to full-time education as a mature student was a bit of a shock to the system, however I knew it would be worth it.

My career post-graduation took me into the Further Education sector, working for an awarding body. Roles as Head of Secretariat and Development Manager prepared me for a faculty role at Lancaster in the Management School. Working with managers from global organisations undertaking part-time postgraduate qualifications gave me an added insight into the application of management theory into the real world, highlighting the challenges of putting theory into practice.

From Student Registry to College Principal

When an opportunity arose in University House I jumped at the chance. My role in Student Registry transitioned over time until one day I was Head of Strategic Development for our Student Services.

I’m also fortunate enough to be Principal of one of our nine colleges here at Lancaster, namely our Graduate College. This role brings me into contact with our fantastic postgraduate students, whose enthusiasm, knowledge and creativity never fails to amaze me.

Supporting and developing services for our postgraduate students, particularly PhDs has been a focus in my time as Principal. Understanding and mapping the student journey using innovative approaches and through student engagement is a key priority of mine. Supporting student resilience through mindfulness practices is also a passion.

Most recently I have been investigating how student services need to transform to meet the needs and expectations of Generation Z. I was excited to deliver a session on this along with Simon Vaukins at the AUA North West mini-conference in December 2016.

“Organisations don’t stand still, they change and evolve and so do we as HE professionals. The AUA supports us in developing so that we can have a positive impact in our organisations and on our profession.”

So where does the AUA fit in to my career?

I joined the AUA when I achieved my goal of working in University House. I needed a better understanding of the HE landscape and the AUA provided networks and insights that helped me do that.

The AUA has also provided me with the opportunity to share my own insights and research and bring valuable lessons back to Lancaster.

I’ve supported and encouraged colleagues to get involved because I can see the value of being part of a membership organisation where you can develop professionally and gain insights into the working of HE administration nationally and globally. Organisations don’t stand still, they change and evolve and so do we as HE professionals. The AUA supports us in developing so that we can have a positive impact in our organisations and on our profession.


Claire Povah MAUA
Head of Strategic Development (Student Based Services)
Principal – Graduate College
Lancaster University

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