HE professional bodies

The UK higher education sector has a large number of bodies which bring together communities of expertise and good practice for the broader benefit of the sector.

These bodies can seem like an impenetrable mass of acronyms so I have put together a list that summarises them.

This list includes bodies that provide some kind of network or membership for functions that often fall under the banner “professional services”. It does not include bodies or networks that operate in a particular academic subject or discipline. The best list I can find for those bodies is published by HESA as a part of the UNISTATS record.

If I’ve got anything wrong, or missed one, please let me know.

Academic Registrars Council (ARC)

Membership body for Academic Registrars whose roles typically include registry functions and/or academic quality. The title Academic Registrar is less widely used now with the group containing a variety of titles around registry services and academic quality.

ARC has an extensive list of practitioner groups specialising in particular domains or geographies including admissions, assessment, quality assurance and the annual Student Records Officers Conference (SROC).

ARC is supported by a small team based in Manchester.

Association of Creative and Print Managers in Education (ACPME)

Promoting and advancing best value and practice within the education print and creative environment.

Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS)

Membership body for careers advisors working in HE institutions. Organisational support is based in Sheffield.

Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA)

Membership body for heads of professional services and administrative functions. These people often have titles like Registrar, Chief Operating Officer or Secretary. Also sometimes known as Deputy Vice-chancellor. They usually have overview of all professional services for an institution.

AHUA is supported by a small team based in Manchester.

Association of Higher Education Professionals (AHEP)

Previously known as the Association of University Administrators (AUA), AHEP is the professional association for any and all professional services staff. AHEP has events and conferences, consultancy, postgraduate qualifications and other CPD offerings. Organisation support is based in Manchester.

Association for International Student Advisers (AISA)

AISA is a professional sub-group of UKCISA for those working in international student advice.

Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE)

Professionals working in the field of learning development in the UK

Association for Learning Technology (ALT)

Group with a broad membership including practitioners, researchers and policy makers with an interest in learning technology.

Association of Managers in Higher Education (AMHEC)

Membership body for anyone with managerial responsibility in a UK HEI.

Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE)

Membership body for student services leaders. Organisation support is based in London.

Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA)

Membership body for research managers and administrators throughout the UK. organisation support is based in Edinburgh.

Association for Student Residential Accommodation (ASRA)

Student accommodation professionals working in UK HE.

Association of UK Higher Education European Officers (HEURO)

Association for professionals, academic and administrative, who are involved in European issues.

Association of University Directors of Estates (AUDE)

Membership body for estates and facilities leaders, usually called Director of Estates. Organisational support is provided by Professional HE Services Ltd.

Association of University Chief Security Officers (AUCSO)

Association for security professionals working in higher and further education.

Association of University Legal Practitioners (AULP)

Legal practitioners working in HE.

Association of University Radiation Protection Officers (AURPO)

AURPO is a professional association that primarily consists of radiation protection / safety professionals that work in higher education, research and teaching establishments.

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy – Universities and Colleges (BACP – UC)

Professional association for those involved in the management and delivery of counselling services in further and higher education.

British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG)

Membership body for the chief financial officers, usually called Finance Director. Organisational support is provided by Professional HE Services Ltd.

British Universities International Liaison Association (BUILA)

Professionals working in the international student market.

Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals – Academic and research libraries group (CILIP_ARLG)

Sub-group of the broader CILIP group, focused on academic and research library professionals.

College and University Business Officers (CUBO)

Professionals working in the development of campus life and the student experience.

Committee of University Chairs (CUC)

Chairs of governing bodies.

Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE)

Global association for professionals in advancement (alumni relations, communications, development, marketing, and advancement services) with a strong UK presence.

Council for Higher Education Art and Design (CHEAD)

Professional association for HE leaders in arts, media and design education and research.

Council of HE Internal Auditors (CHEIA)

Membership body for internal auditors working in HE institutions. Organisational support is provided by Professional HE Services Ltd.

Council for Validating Universities (CVU)

Specialising in good practice and standards for validation partnerships (often known as ‘collaborative provision’).

CRM Network HE

A support and information sharing network for customer relationship management (CRM) professionals working within the Higher Education sector.

eie network

Events professionals in education.

Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)

A member association supporting Universities and Colleges across the UK and Ireland to address environmental issues both operationally, as businesses, and within the curriculum.

Forum for Access and Continuing Education (FACE) 

Forum for the exchange and dissemination of information and practices in lifelong learning and widening participation to higher education.

Heads of Educational Development Group (HEDG)

Heads of educational development in UK higher education.

Heads of eLearning Forum (HeLF)

A network of senior staff engaged in promoting, supporting and developing technology enhanced learning (TEL).

Heads of University Counselling Services (HUCS)

A special interest group of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.


Professional association for staff who provide guidance, information and outreach activities to prospective higher education students, their families and guidance advisers throughout the UK.

Higher Education Business Continuity Network (HEBCoN)

Membership network of institutions sharing and promoting good practice in Business Continuity Management (BCM), risk management and emergency planning.

Higher Education Design Quality Forum (HEDQF)

The Higher Education Design Quality Forum is and independent organisation which exists to promote high quality design in university campuses, buildings and facilities, in the knowledge that this enhances teaching, learning, research and public engagement.

Higer Education Information Directors Scotland (HEIDS)

Promotes high standards in the provision and development of academic, management and administrative information systems throughout the Scottish Higher Education Sector.

Higher Education Institutional Research in the UK and Ireland (HEIR)

A network of practitioners and enthusiasts working to support learning and teaching practice and inform management decision making at all levels.

Higher Education Procurement Association (HEPA)

HEPA is the network for procurement professionals in the HE sector.

Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA)

Membership body for heads of planning. Titles are usually something like Director of Planning and roles usually (though not always) include strategic planning, statutory returns and regulatory issues. Organisational support is provided by Professional HE Services Ltd.

See also the Russell Group Planning Directors group, the Scottish Planners Forum, and the London Planners Network.

Immigration Compliance Network (ICN)

Immigration compliance professionals working in HE.

Lighthouse Group

Policy advisers working in HE.

M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries

Library and information services within the M25 region and more widely across the East and Southeast.

National Association of Disability Practitioners (NADP)

The professional association for disability and inclusivity practitioners in the further and higher education sector.

National Association of Student Money Advisers (NASMA)

Membership body for those working in student advice and funding.

National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL)

The National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) was established in June 2013 by higher education institutions and national organisations committed to the progression and support of Care Leavers in higher education.

Network of EDI Academic Leads

Community of those involved in designing, implementing and sustaining Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) interventions across higher education institutions.

Northern Universities Consortium for Credit Accumulation and Transfer

A forum for HE practitioners with an interest in the design, implementation and regulation of credit based curriculum in northern and central England and Northern Ireland.

Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Special Interest Group

Special interest group for HE professionals managing PCI DSS compliant card payment services.


Professional association for Knowledge Exchange practitioners

Professional Managers’ Committee of the Chartered Association of Business Schools

Professional services staff working in UK Business Schools

Professional Research Investment and Strategy Managers Network (PRISM Network)

Leaders in the delivery and growth of large research investments.

Public Engagement Professionals Network (PEPN)

Public engagement professionals across the UK working in higher education and research.

Quality Strategy Network (QSN)

Membership organisation for staff with responsibility for quality strategy and management within UK higher education.

Research Libraries UK (RLUK)

Consortium of the main research libraries in the UK and Ireland.

Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL)

SCURL is a membership body that supports service development and improvement across Scotland’s university and research libraries.

Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE)

UK-based international learned society concerned to advance understanding of higher education.

(This is not really a professional services community but probably has relevance on this list.)

Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) 

Membership body for leaders of library services, including universities, national libraries and collections of national significance. Organisation support is based in London.

South East England Consortium for Credit Accumulation & Transfer (SEEC)

A consortium of universities and HE providers working together to advance the use and practice of academic credit, widening access to learning. 

The Spinnaker Group

The Spinnaker Group brings together colleagues who lead on ‘Student Experience’ and ‘Teaching and Learning’.

Staff Development Forum (SDF)

For staff and organisation development professionals in Higher Education.

Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA)

The professional association for staff and educational developers.

Standing Conference for Heads of Media Services (SCHOMS)

An association of Managers employed in Higher Education to have responsibility for the strategic direction of a range of media services.

Student Volunteering Network (SVN)

Networking and resources for staff who inspire students to local, national and global voluntary action.

Sustainability in Higher Education Developers (SHED)

Community of practice for sustainability issues.

Technical Managers in Universities (TMU)

An informal voluntary association of technical managers and supervisors working within engineering, technology & science to support a wide range of disciplines in universities throughout the United Kingdom.

The University Caterers Organisation (TUCO)

Professional membership body for in-house caterers operating in the higher, further education and public sector.

UK Advising and Tutoring

Body of professional practitioners and researchers interested in all aspects of student advising and personal tutoring in higher education in the UK. 

UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA)

Membership organisation supporting international students and all who work with them.

Universities Association of Lifelong Learning (UALL)

UALL champions the broader definition of lifelong engagement with universities through part-time flexible provision offering personal, community and vocational development.

Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA)

Membership body for IT staff in the sector. UCISA has an extensive list of sub-groups specialising in particular domains or geographies.

UCISA is a registered charity with staff based at Harwell.

See also the Russell Universities Group of IT Directors (RUGIT)

Universities HR (UHR)

Membership body for HR leaders. Organisational support is provided by Professional HE Services Ltd.

Universities Marketing Forum (UMF)

Directors of marketing and recruitment working in UK higher education.

Universities Policy Engagement Network (UPEN)

Network focused on increasing the public policy impact from University research.

Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA)

Membership body for health and safety professionals. Organisation support is based in Eastbourne.

University Biosciences Managers Association (UBMA)

The organisation for Laboratory Superintendents and Managers in university biological, biochemical and life science departments.

University Health & Medical Librarians Group (UHMLG)

UHMLG is the representative group for university health and medical librarians in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

University Mental Health Advisers Network

Network of mental health professionals working in higher education.

University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC)

Membership network for processionals working in HE and FE on technical and professional higher level learning, including higher and degree apprenticeships.

Work Based and Placement Learning Association (ASET)

Work-based and placement learning professionals working in HE. The groups acronym is a historical artefact.

Body count: 82