This April I will have been with London Higher for no less than 18 years. When I joined on secondment all those years ago, I did not imagine that I would still be with the business in 2020, but London’s HE sector continues to be a thriving and dynamic place to work. There have been so many different changes during my time here – not only for the organisation or the higher education sector be it in London or elsewhere, but also much more widely.
Back in 2002 I joined in essence an embryonic organisation, which was not then called London Higher. It did not have an assured future, and the staff consisted of me plus half of another person’s time. Today London Higher is well established as a company limited by guarantee and registered charity, and employs at the moment twenty-two people across four divisions. The organisation has had to be adaptable to respond to what has been a continually changing environment in London, nationally and internationally, and where the wishes and expectations of members have flexed accordingly.
Last summer, following an independent review of London Higher, and consultation with members and stakeholders, a new business strategy “Future Vision and Priorities” was approved. Since then we have been reorienting the organisation to ensure it is fit for purpose to meet the refreshed priorities and objectives, as well as staying effective and efficient. Some changes are still to be made, and will be completed before the summer. One major aspect of the transition is a restructure of the core London Higher team so that we can fulfil to best effect our role as a convenor, communicator and campaigner.
From mid-March the new-look team executive will be in place. Two posts in particular have been created very much with the “Future Vision and Priorities” in mind: a new Head of Communications and External Affairs, and a Senior Policy Officer. Both will bring extensive experience and will be coming to develop our work with policy makers and influencers, raise awareness about the work being done for and with the member group, and to strengthen our communications and advocacy.
London Higher is neither a sector agency nor a mission group but a regional (and voluntary) membership association. What unites our members – whether they be large or small, specialist or multi-faculty and whatever mission they have – is London. One of the key things upon which we all agree is that London, our great capital and global city, is different to other metropolitan cities in the UK. Since inception, London Higher has been striving to help our members to thrive and meet both the challenges and opportunities of providing HE in this dynamic and special, but at the same time complex, place. Collaboration has always been vital to enable the diversity of the HE sector in London to flourish, both individually and together. Whilst financial pressures and competition are increasing, London Higher will continue to explore how best to help members come together wherever there is shared interest, and to benefit from the power of the united voice. Our new team will enable us to do this even more effectively.
We have had to say goodbye and best wishes to some long-serving and respected colleagues over the past few months and I remain much indebted to them for all their efforts and dedication to London Higher and to London’s HEIs over the past years. As we continue to move forward I am excited to see London Higher benefit from the expertise of our new colleagues as we continue to both share and contribute to the success of this world-class cluster of universities.