Reflections on 25 years of AUA membership

Dr Andrew West FAUA | Formerly University Secretary, University of Sheffield

2018 marks my 25th anniversary of AUA membership. Reflecting on what has kept me engaged in the Association over such a long period leads me to a number of what might be called ‘enduring benefits’ of membership which continue to add value, and perhaps in the next few years will prove even more valuable. I would be interested in your response to my top five list of enduring member benefits that sum up the value of AUA; these have been proven to me over 25 years, and stretch ahead into the future.

Our professional roles are embedded in educational organisations (our HE institutions), and as a result I continue to draw great benefits from the learning opportunities available through the AUA. The community has always been open to sharing – every member’s readymade benchmarking club – and I love coming away from each AUA engagement with a series of new perspectives and fresh reflections. In an increasingly competitive sector, our dynamic professional learning community seems ever more important, and an asset we need to hold onto.

People development
My various roles in the sector have involved leading large professional services teams – most recently a division of 650 people. In such contexts, a focus on the development of people (rather than simply on service delivery) is absolutely vital. The AUA’s CPD Framework is a purpose-designed tool to encourage excellence in people development, and there is a myriad of ways in which the Framework can be used to support your individual career journey and to motivate team development. The Association’s enduring emphasis on supporting people development is an ongoing inspiration to me, and I feel sure it will continue to be a draw for leaders and managers in the future.

Over the last 25 years I have witnessed a huge increase in externally driven legislation, regulation, and bureaucracy of various sorts. Some initiatives have felt long-overdue and very much welcome; others, less so. As these demands keep growing in volume and complexity, I am convinced that the AUA’s particular commitment to professionalism in administration and management is the right focus for the future, not only supporting our own personal career development, but importantly also underpinning the sector’s reputation for success.

Some years ago I was privileged to be part of the Editorial Board of our professional journal Perspectives, and I have contributed a number of articles to the journal over the years. Facing the future in our institutions will involve confronting an ever increasing level of complexity, uncertainty and demand. Fresh thinking and well researched professional insight will be critical to sector success – and where better to go than the AUA’s very own publication, which invariably sets out a valued practitioner view on the array of challenges facing our institutions.

Global perspectives
Of course I couldn’t submit an article in the UK of 2017-18 without referring to Brexit. The AUA has long enjoyed very well developed and highly inclusive international links, including the opportunity open to all members to participate in global learning activities like our International Study Tours. I know my own professional practice was transformed some years ago by an international experience – part funded by the AUA. Our Association’s long-established global reach is another enduring member benefit which will surely have a significantly increased future value in a post-Brexit HE sector.

Further information on member benefits can be found on the new AUA website at Perhaps my top five suggestions, combined with the new website, will inspire you to recommend AUA membership to a friend?

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