AUA Consulting – thoughts for the future

Steve Smith

Managing Consultant, AUA Consulting

Steve Smith is the new Managing Consultant for AUA Consulting. This is a role he has just taken over from Dr Andrew West, AUA Consulting’s inaugural Managing Consultant. In this blog Steve considers the opportunities for AUA Consulting as it looks to build upon its considerable success and continue to provide valuable support to the higher education sector.

Following my career in higher education as a professional services leader and manager, I was very fortunate to become a Consultant for AUA Consulting in early 2020. This has given me the opportunity to continue to use my experience to bring about improvements to both individual higher education institutions and the sector overall. I am now excited and privileged to be in a position to build further on this as the next Managing Consultant for AUA Consulting.

As I take over though, the first thing I must do is thank Andrew for the exceptional job he has done as the inaugural Managing Consultant. Through his skill, experience and commitment he has led and developed AUA Consulting from its pilot phase to become a respected and established player in the higher education consultancy market. As Andrew’s recent blog outlines there have been many successes along the way and I will do my best to ensure that there are more as I lead AUA Consulting in its next phase of development.

AUA Consulting will continue to deliver its distinctive consultancy offer that is perfectly characterised by our strap line ‘of the sector, for the sector’. We will continue to provide support across the breadth of higher education from large, multi-discipline institutions through to small, specialist ones. We will do this through delivering projects in our core areas of professional services operations that range from governance and compliance to professional development; from admissions to student employability; from academic administration to EDI; from international strategy to professional services operating models and efficiencies.

But what lies ahead for higher education in the future? The government’s recent response to the Augar Review perhaps provides a few clues. A brief analysis of this suggests several significant areas where AUA Consulting would be well positioned to support institutions as they consider the potential impact on them of the response to Augar. I speculate below on what some of these might be.

  • One clear impact on institutions is that the freeze on tuition fees represents a drop in real income. Furthermore, the consultations related to student number controls (SNC) and minimum eligibility requirements (MER) could result in lower student numbers and reduced levels of income. Anticipating this may cause many institutions to look to reduce costs through efficiency savings. AUA Consulting has lots of experience of delivering costs savings and efficiencies in professional services operations whilst maintaining their effectiveness and could provide valuable support.

As I take over though, the first thing I must do is thank Andrew for the exceptional job he has done as the inaugural Managing Consultant.

  • The consultations on SNC and MER could also result in some combination of fewer student applications and greater competition for places. As well as this, the consultation around the lifelong loan entitlement (LLE) and modularisation could result in different modes of entry to higher education. Institutions may need to make sure their recruitment and admissions systems and process would be fit for purpose and able to adapt to this potentially new environment. AUA Consulting has a wealth of experience of recruitment and admissions and would be well placed to support institutions here.
  • Another consideration for institutions is whether the consultation on LLE and modularisation, including across further education, could result in the need to look at different models for professional services operations. This may particularly be in the areas of student services and student and academic administration. These are areas in which AUA Consulting has considerable expertise and this could be brought to bear in support of institutions.

I am confident that, whether it be in these developmental areas or in more familiar ones, the benefits of consulting input will continue to be valued and sought after by leaders in higher education and their professional services teams. AUA Consulting is ready and waiting to provide this and through it to contribute to the success of higher education institutions and the sector.

AUA Consulting is a consulting practice ‘of the sector for the sector’.  AUA Consultants are practitioners in higher education governance and management, with a depth of experience and professional expertise.   AUA Consulting also offers a team of qualified coaches with expertise in personal, professional and career development.   To find out how AUA Consulting can help you and your team, email Read more at AUA Consulting.