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Measuring what matters

Measuring What Matters

This project explores how Higher Education governing bodies are currently measuring and articulating performance in order to better evidence the value that they create for all stakeholders.

In 2022, Advance HE surveyed member institutions, governors and governance professionals. Their responses exposed a range of practices and positioned the topic of performance evaluation and the concept of value as an area requiring support and/or guidance.

Reporting impact and value is critical for organisations who exist for the public good. They need to be accountable to their stakeholders, their eco-system, environment and society.

Higher Education is under pressure – challenged by policymakers, students, the wider public, regulators and the media to prove its value whilst simultaneously facing multiple financial and regulatory constraints. The evidence and metrics that governing bodies and senior executives have do not always build a comprehensive picture of what it means to be a healthy, inclusive and sustainable institution – which is especially important when the world beyond the university is putting ever more emphasis on environmental, economic and social responsibility.

This project is of interest to governing bodies and senior executives of all types of institution. This topic is of material importance to the sector and a small steering group has been established including representatives from UUK, Guild HE, CUC and AHUA.

Keep up to date with the Measuring What Matters project.

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

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How Higher Education governing bodies should measure the value of their institutions was the topic of a recent roundtable hosted by HEPI and Advance HE, attended by HE leaders and other experts in the sector. In this blog, we unpack and explore the findings from the roundtable event.

Read the blog
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Thought peice

Kim Ansell, Advance HE Senior Consultant Governance and Leadership, introduces a thought piece by Phil McNaull, Strategic Finance Consultant, Executive Coach and former Finance Director at the University of Edinburgh, which challenges leadership teams to consider their ways of working and the tools that might help.

Read the thought piece

Project Outputs

Reviewing approaches to articulating performance and value, Phil McNaull is exploring progress in institutions that have used integrated thinking and reporting as a principles based tool. A blog post on this topic will be published in July 2023. Previous work on this topic can be found here.

A stimulus for this project is also in progress - a current practice-based survey of a selection of Board Papers and External Reporting of Performance in Universities. If you would be willing to share a recent set of Board papers reporting performance please get in touch with Project Lead, Kim Ansell

While it is recognised that this scope has some limitations, it intends to:

  • Surface some of the tensions and issues in an analytical and evidence based way,

  • Corroborate or challenge assumptions that key stakeholders have about current practice, and

  • Provide a basis for framing future phases of work.

Advance HE has engaged Professor Carol Adams, a recognised expert, to undertake this insights research.

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Meet the team

Kim Ansell - Project Lead and Project Oversight

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.


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Kim Ansell

Victoria Holbrook - Project Lead and Project Oversight

As Assistant Director of Governance, Victoria leads the development and delivery of Advance HE’s approach and work to support good governance to ensure it meets the needs of its members and clients in their rapidly evolving operating environments.


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Victoria Holbrook

Phil McNaull - Advance HE Associate 

In his role as Strategic Finance Consultant, Phil has worked for universities in the UK and overseas where he has carried out Executive Coaching assignments, provided training on communicating TRAC, run leadership development programmes as well as providing pro bono work for certain projects related to investing for sustainability. Phil is currently a Director of Advanced Procurement Universities & Colleges Ltd., and provides consultancy services as a Client Relationship Director of Invisible Grail and an associate of Taylor Clarke. 


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Phil McNaull

Professor Carol Adams - Advance HE Associate 

Prof. Carol Adams is Professor of Accounting at Durham University Business School in the UK and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal. She is one of the world’s most published and cited researchers in the field of sustainability accounting and reporting.


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Prof Carol Adams
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