Professional Development

How are professional services roles developing in the context of a rapidly changing sector, and what skills and attributes are needed to equip professional services for the future?

The success of UK higher education relies on effective professional services working in strong partnership with academic teams. How are professional services roles developing in the context of a rapidly changing sector, and what skills and attributes are needed to equip professional services for the future? Looking ahead in the post-Covid era the higher education agenda is crowded by challenge and turbulence. Adaptability and agility are vital professional attributes with the increase in hybrid and cross-functional working  – not to mention the new management behaviours, and human resources practices, which are needed to encourage flexibility and adaptability into the future.

For clients approaching AUA Consulting for support in driving continued improvement in professional services performance, we offer a flexible range of options, drawing on a depth of expertise in professional development among our consultant team and building on AUA’s 60-year heritage supporting HE professional services. Our consultants are focussed on achieving practical solutions and improvements for clients. Outcomes for institutions might include:

  • Developing a strategic framework for professional services – incorporating institutional values and connected to performance review metrics.
  • Design and delivery of a career ‘pathway’ for professional services staff linked to leadership/management development opportunities – embedding positive behavioural attributes to motivate high performing staff.
  • Supporting bespoke implementation of AUA’s Continuing Professional Development Framework for professional services – empowering your team in their career development journeys and reflecting your HEI’s commitment to professional services improvement.
  • Tailored CPD design for your professional services teams – function specific and/or focussed on professional skills and behaviours. Skills-related topics include ‘Delivering excellent service’, ‘Guiding your team through change’.  Drawing on AUA’s insight and expertise in the future direction for HE professional services.

Find out how we have supported professional services development – explore our consulting case studies:

Buckinghamshire New University

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 AUA’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.


Professionalising Student Services 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 AUA 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 AUA team has been extremely helpful every step of the way, especially with the understanding of such a tight timescale for delivery.

Read reflections from our consultants:

Explore how AUA Consulting can help your team: