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Identifying, developing and supporting Academic Leadership

Identifying, developing and supporting Academic Leadership: An Evidence Informed Review Of Good Practice

Led by Geraldine Harrison, Advance HE Associate in collaboration with Universities HR, this review explores how HEIs can support Academic Leadership.

Identifying, developing and supporting Academic Leadership: An Evidence Informed Review Of Good Practice is to examine institutional current and emerging practices with the intention of learning and sharing among our members the multiple approaches in the sector to identifying, developing, supporting and retaining academic leaders. 

The objectives of this project will be to gather examples of steps that institutions, large or small, are taking to develop sustainable leadership among their academic cadre and to articulate clearly both the opportunities and challenges involved.   

We will explore how to support and develop both leadership and leaders for the future with the intention of creating a dialogue for innovation and improvement. 

We will gather data and offer insights, highlighting good practice and success stories from HE specific case studies that have embedded inclusive and transparent methods to identify, develop and support successful and diverse academic leadership practice. 

Keep up to date with the Identifying, developing and supporting Academic Leadership project.

Register your interest using the form below to receive regular updates on this Advance HE Member Benefit project.

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This research highlights perspectives on academic leadership through a Human Resources and Organisational Development lens. It brings cultural views into focus which often remain in the background and as such is an important addition to our understanding of how we support universities to grow and improve their leadership.

Geraldine Harrison

Project Lead 

Outputs included

  • A webinar to share insights, findings and recommendations on 13th July 2023. The webinar provided an opportunity for dialogue with contributors about cross-cutting themes.  Please click here to register your interest. 

  • A capstone report outlining key opportunities, challenges, reflections and insights, including a focus on good practice examples and ways of working, including a gap analysis where appropriate, recommendations and conclusions.  


This project is led by Advance HE in partnership with Universities Human Resources (UHR) and Organisational Development in Higher Education network (ODHE).

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Introductory Blog

As we launch new work exploring strategic approaches to identifying, developing and supporting academic leaders, Advance HE Associate, Dr Geraldine Harrison, explores some of the issues and invites member participation in the project.

Read the blog
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Focus Groups

In order to explore the role and contribution of HR and Organisational Development colleagues in enabling inclusive academic leadership as well as identify good practice and success stories, we held three focus groups in June 2023.

 These 90-minute sessions offered an opportunity for HR and OD colleagues to discuss and exchange views on how academic leadership can be positioned effectively within overall university strategy.

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Capstone report

This report offers some state-of-the-art insights about the health of academic leadership in HE within the UK, providing an exploration of ‘identifying, supporting and developing academic leaders’.

The main focus of the report is to hear the HR and OD voice on the issues they encounter in their work, the good practice they exercise and their hopes for the future of academic leadership. We sought to highlight areas for further exploration, discussion and debate as opposed to answers at this stage. Reflections and questions are incorporated into the report where appropriate to signpost future research and further discovery.

Read the report
academic leadershi report
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Meet the team

Dr Geraldine Harrison - Project Lead

 A longstanding Associate of Advance HE, Geraldine is the Project Lead for the Identifying, developing and supporting Academic Leadership project. She holds a PhD from Edinburgh University and an MBA from the Open University.  Geraldine is also an OD professional with experience in the higher education sector and the private sector.

Geraldine Harrison
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Kim Ansell - Advance HE Senior Consultant in Leadership, Organisational Development and Research

Kim has worked across higher and professional education providing support to groups at all levels including senior leadership teams and Boards, to facilitate change, strategic thinking, planning and performance improvement.

Kim Ansell
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Sophie Crouchman - Strategic Projects and Research Manager  at Universities Human Resources (UHR) 

Sophie is the Strategic Projects and Research Manager at Universities Human Resources (UHR). Sophie has spent 15 years in a range of HE professional services roles including HR and a secondment to Research England for the REF, and latterly as Senior Planning Officer at Loughborough, covering governance, projects and data work, HESA, EDI and HR datasets.

Sophie Crouchman
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Sarah Hubbard - Advance HE Senior Consultant in Leadership, Organisational Development and Research

Sarah is a Senior Consultant in the Leadership, Organisational Development and Research team. Sarah’s work is focused around designing for, and enabling participation and alignment, wellbeing and inclusion, leading to improved colleague engagement and performance, enhanced decision making and transformation. 

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Kay Renfrew - Advance HE Associate, Consultant and Researcher 

Kay is an experienced consultant and researcher who has delivered assignments for clients in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. She has a Masters degree in information management and has extensive expertise in data analysis and reporting, to assess project impact and performance.

Kay Renfrew
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