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Collaborative Development Fund 2023-24

The 2023-24 Collaborative Development Fund supports the development of our members by addressing key sector challenges together, through a series of innovative projects.

Each year we consult with our members on where and how we can support them in meeting the many challenges in higher education today.

The Collaborative Development Fund is a yearly funding scheme that seeks to offer Advance HE members grant funding to carry out project work on important sector concerns. In 2023-2024 we are offering grants of up to £10,000 across four broad themes.

By tackling important sector concerns collectively, the funding awarded by Advance HE helps our members to find new solutions and benefit from the shared learning of what works.

The fund is closed for applications.

We will inform all applicants of the outcomes by 15 December. 

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The CDF allows us to use our reach, convening power and the breadth of expertise and experience from right across our global membership to support you in meeting the contemporary challenges in higher education. These challenges call for sector-wide thinking so the funding awarded by Advance HE helps members to find and amplify new solutions and benefit from the shared learning of what works.

We look forward to working with members in the 2023-24 membership year to help ensure this funding and the learning it enables makes a difference for all our members.”

Nick Skeet,
Director of Membership

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Supporting documents for your application

This year, we asked applications to be submitted directly, in order to help them prepare the application, we prepared a document that outlines the information needed. You can find more information about how applications will be assessed. 

The application submission deadline is now over. We will inform all applicants of the outcomes by 15 December.

If you have any queries on the Collaborative Development Fund process or themes please contact

CDF Application Criteria
CDF Application Criteria View Document
CDF Application Questions
CDF Application Questions View Document
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Introducing the 2023-24 Collaborative Development Fund Projects

This year's Collaborative Development Fund introduces four broad themes that you can apply against:

We have included some suggested topics of particular interest under each theme but applications are by no means limited to these suggestions. Grant funding is available to all members who can apply for up to a maximum of £10,000. 

The fund is closed for applications.

Generative AI Beyond Assessment

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the world at an unprecedented pace, and higher education is no exception. The big challenge for higher education concerning AI is not simply what changes it will bring but the speed at which it will happen. Read more about the global project


As a rapidly moving area, possible themes include but are not limited to: 

  • How GAI can create personalized learning paths for students based on their interests, goals, and preferences. The project could investigate the benefits and challenges of generative AI to tailor each student's curriculum, content, and feedback. 
  • How GAI can be used to enhance the creativity and innovation of students and teachers. The project could explore how generative AI can be used to generate novel ideas, solutions, or products for various domains and disciplines. 
  • How GAI creates both challenges and opportunities for the accessibility and inclusivity of Higher Education. The project could analyze how generative AI can be used to provide multilingual support, assistive technology, or adaptive interfaces for staff and/or students with diverse needs and backgrounds.
  • How GAI can impact administrative operations by adopting approaches that focuses on streamlining, standardizing, and automating processes. This might include discussion of the possible challenges of ensuring equity and access for all in a period of rapid change.  
  • How GAI can impact the undertaking of academic research. The project could also examine the ethical and social implications of using AI for research purposes, such as ensuring the validity, reliability, and reproducibility of the results and addressing issues of bias, privacy, and accountability. 
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Fit for the Future: Adapting practice for the new paradigms of higher education

The higher education landscape is shifting and diversifying to meet the changing needs of students and employers. Post-pandemic changes to student expectations, experiences, and prior learning combined with external factors, including the cost of living, globalisation, student mobility and graduate employment, necessitate changes to how higher education is structured and provided. Read more about the global project. 


Possible themes to explore include: 

Managing Techno-Stress: Strategic approaches for staff or students

Technology-related stress, or techno-stress, refers to the negative psychological and physical impacts that arise from the use of or exposure to technology. Techo-stress can manifest in various ways including: information overload, techno-uncertainty, techno-invasion: techno-complexity, techno-fatigue and social isolation. This project could examine strategies that can be deployed at an institutional, curriculum and/or personal level, to support staff and/or students navigate and utilise technology without becoming overwhelmed by the negative impacts.

Digital Transformation and Digital leadership

Digital transformation is a series of deep and coordinated cultural, workforce, and technology shifts; successful digital transformation requires effective digital leadership.  This project could examine best practices around digital transformation and the skills, knowledge and attributes required to lead effective digital transformation.

Understanding Student ‘Becoming’

Understanding student becoming is crucial for educators, policymakers, and higher education institutions as it informs the design of more effective teaching and learning environments. It is an underdeveloped area of activity in HE that could provide invaluable pointers on the power of student agency for HEIs looking to improve student outcomes and rectify attainment gaps. This project could provide insights into the factors influencing student development and point to recommendations for enhancing the student experience.

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Creating a culture of Strategic EDI Change

Strategic EDI is an approach that focuses on integrating fairness, justice, and equity into all aspects of an organisation’s operations and decision-making processes. It aims to foster an inclusive and equitable environment that values and respects the diversity, in all its forms, of all individuals in the organisation. While the aims of Strategic EDI may vary - its outcomes and the potential impact on the organisation has been shown to be positively correlated with improved decision-making, an inclusive equitable and supportive work/study environment and increases in innovation and growth.


Possible questions to address include:

  • How can institutions expand their strategic approach to EDI to include additional and emerging characteristics (‘need to be protected’ as well as ‘legally protected’)?
  • How are institutions (other organisations?) using intersectionality as a lens to support strategic EDI change? What are the challenges, enablers and gaps in knowledge needed to facilitate an intersectional approach?
  • How are institutions aligning multiple EDI priorities to create a holistic and integrated strategic approach to EDI (not zero sum but sum of all parts)?
  • How are institutions developing metrics, key performance indicators and evaluation methodologies to effectively measure the impact of their EDI strategy and practice?
  • What are institutions doing to create capacity and competence for sustainable strategic EDI change? Could include structures, governance and accountability, leadership development, training and CPD, reward, recognition and sanction.
  • How are institutions taking a strategic approach to EDI in their international work? Could include overseas campuses, international partnerships, work with international students, adapting EDI strategy and activity to different cultural contexts and legal frameworks.
  • How are institutions working in partnership in developing strategic EDI activity, bringing groups, interests and perspectives together across different areas of EDI?
  • To what extent can large language models such as ChatGPT and other forms of AI support strategic EDI initiative
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HE workforces of the future

The Advance HE 2023 leadership survey report highlighted some clear synergies and some startling divergences between the perspectives of ‘me as a leader’ and ‘my experience of being led’. This project seeks to understand the systemic issues exposed by the survey and explores the resources, extent and scope for our institutional leadership and systems to develop the staff, well-being, and culture required to address the challenges and withstand the pressures of 21st century higher education.

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Possible questions to address include: 

  • How could we use the socio-ecological model of well-being and mental health transform our organisational design?   
  • How could we use social psychology and sociology to enable more effective groups and team-working?  
  • What can we learn from indigenous models of leadership and community to transform our ways of working?  
  • How could we create greater alignment between purpose-full institutions and enabling economic sustainability?   
  • What can we learn from design thinking to transform ways of working for continuous improvement?   
  • How could we re-think structure and culture to enable a learning organisation?   
  • How can we accelerate leadership development pathways for professional service staff, enabling universities to build leadership capacity and retain talent?
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Past Collaborative Development Fund Projects

New challenges, new solutions. Explore some of the projects and outputs created by the Collaborative Development Fund:

If you have any queries on the Collaborative Development Fund process or themes please contact

Find out more