Here at GoodCourse, we’re fortunate enough to speak with some of the most influential and inspiring change-makers in the Higher Education sector every day.
With us, they share their professional journeys, the key triumphs and challenges of their work, and everything they’re doing on and off campus to make every student’s university experience the best it can be.
It probably comes as no surprise that our interviewees have plenty of wisdom to share. We’ve rounded up our top ten pieces of advice from our Interview series, where we speak to some of the most impressive change-makers in the higher education sector, below. Enjoy!
Collaboration – inside and outside of your institution – is a great opportunity to learn new skills, enhance initiatives and build diverse networks. Sharon Handley, Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) of Culture and Community at Manchester Metropolitan University was keen to emphasise how important collaboration with her local community was to the success of her language-sharing programme, Mother to Other Tongue.
A strong set of principles can not only guide decision-making, but also sets apart a good leader from a brilliant one. Moreover, the most impactful work is done by those that have an unrelenting belief in their vision and values. The advice of Caroline McDonald, Director of Access and Engagement at Birkbeck reflects this:
Higher education professionals with a relentless drive for personal development can achieve remarkable things in their professional environments. For Andrew Ireland, PVC for Students and Teaching at the University of Central Lancashire, working in higher education wasn’t his original plan. He started his career in TV production, but took a chance on an opportunity to bring his vocational passion to the classroom:
Psychologists the world over have stressed the importance of role models for a child’s development – but it’s important to remember that there are lifelong benefits to having a ‘future you’ to look up to. Melanie-Marie Haywood, Director of Education Development at Birmingham City University, explained how as a Woman of Colour, having somebody to emulate has been essential to her professional development:
Owning one’s career advancement sometimes means moving sideways, rather than upwards, to acquire new skills and experience. Jill Stevenson’s remit is impressive – holding down both the title of Dean of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Stirling, and Director of Student Services and Chair of AMOSSHE. The amazing work Jill has accomplished is in no small part due to her dedication to career advancement, as well as her willingness to try new things:
Savvy leaders know that thoughtful planning is foundational to progress. Not only does this allow for the development for strategies that accurately reflect the issues at hand – it also helps everybody in a team execute positive change quickly and effectively. Sam Grogan, PVC for Student Experience at Salford University, recommends setting aside time to reflect and revise established goals as they develop:
A confident mindset allows a lot of opportunity to experiment, grow and develop as a higher education leader. Short and simple, Jo Midgley, PVC at the University of the West of England proposes a just-say-yes approach:
It’s essential to approach work in the higher education sector with a true belief in the benefits that are being brought to the lives of students through your work. Head of EDI at the University of Southampton, Camilla Gibson, reminds us that successful initiatives are best implemented by inspired and driven higher education practitioners:
The first step on the path towards positive change is acknowledging and confronting the issues at hand. Professor Udy Archibong, PVC for EDI at the University of Bradford recognises that a problem can’t be solved unless it is clearly defined. Ensuring everybody in your organisation has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by marginalised students and staff is crucial to change-making:
Most of us have experienced marginalisation, isolation or lack of confidence in personal and professional contexts. Striking a more personal note, Katherine Linehan, PVC for EDI at the University of Nottingham, drew our attention to the value of discussing the nuances of one’s own protected characteristics:
There we have it – a wealth of thoughtful, inspiring and astute advice from some of the most impressive change-makers in the higher education sector. If you’d like to delve more into our interview series, click on the links below!
Chatting to leaders in the student experience and EDI spheres is always an enjoyable experience for us – you can probably tell from the smiles of GoodCourse’s Kitty Hadaway and Northumbria University’s Maureen McLaughlin below. If you’re a higher education professional who’d like to feature as part of our Interview series, don’t hesitate to get in touch!