Professor Helen Higson OBE

Helen Higson

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Professor Helen Higson is Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Aston, where she leads on outreach and recruitment, learning and teaching, and employability.  

Helen graduated from Newnham College Cambridge, and subsequently gained an MA from the Open University and a PhD from Birkbeck College, London University.  She has worked in the university sector since 1983, reaching a number of senior management positions including Director of Quality, Associate Dean Undergraduate Programmes and Head of Learning and Teaching.  The major part of her career was spent in Aston Business School, where she is Professor of Higher Education Learning and Management, and where she led the innovative Foundation Degree in HE/FE Management and Administration.

In 2003 Helen founded the Centre for Higher Education Learning and Management (HELM).  She has undertaken extensive research work in the areas of employability and work-based learning, intercultural learning and strategic issues in HE management.  In 2008 Helen led the team which was awarded a Jaguar Land Rover Arts and Business Award with the MAP Consortium “for the partnership which best embeds culture as a core element of employee development”.  She has edited (with Julie Green) ten editions of a Learning and Teaching Good Practice Guide.

Helen is a member of Aston Business School's Operations & Infomation Management Group. She has been a Subject Reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) and from 2003 to 2008 was a member of the HEFCE Quality Assurance Learning and Teaching strategic committee and the Quality Assurance Framework Review Group.  She has worked extensively with the Association of Business Schools and the Higher Education Academy.  Helen is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators (AUA), for whom she is also a mentor for the Postgraduate Certificate.  She is a Principal Fellow of the HEA and a Fellow of Birmingham Metropolitan College.

Helen Higson was awarded an OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours list.

Research interests

Research work in: intercultural learning, management of higher education, academic load models, quality procedures, reflective learning, links between theory and practice, pedagogy and research

Currently working on research projects on widening participation, youth inequalities and interculture learning and employability

Teaching Activity

Designed and teach on the following modules: Business Game Foundations of Management and International Foundations of Management, Policy and Strategy in Higher Education

Supervision of MSc and MBA dissertations

Successful supervisor of DBA and PhD students

Guest sessions at undergraduate level on information management, career development, project management, reflective learning

Student mentor and placement tutor

Contributor to Aston University Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Practice

Have been involved in a range of professional development training for university administrators at Aston and other midland universities


1996                   PhD, Birkbeck College, London

1989                   MA in Literature and Criticism, Open University

1982                   MA in English Literature, Newnham College, Cambridge

1978                   3 A-levels at grade A, Peter Symonds College, Winchester

1975-6               10 O-levels, Winchester County High School for Girls

Membership of Professional Bodies

Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PHEA)

Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA)

Association of University Administrators (AUA) Fellow

Administrative Roles

Responsible for Learning and Teaching, Planning activities, outreach and Schools Liaison, Careers and Placements, International Office

Course Director - BSc Business & Professional Studies part time. (September 2011 - 2013)

Course Director - Foundation Degree in FE/HE. (September 2011 - 2013)

Research Centre Director, School. (December 2004 - May 2011)

Chair of Aston University Health and Safety Audit Group (2006-2008)

Chair, Learning and Teaching Strategy Committee, University.

Chair, Collaborative Provision Steering Group, University.

Chair, Birmingham Metropolitan College Steering Group, University.

Chair, SITS/MAP Steering Group, University.

Chair, Undergraduate Programme Directors' Group.

Chair, University Admissions Fora.

Chair, Graduate Advantage Project Steering Group

Chair, Data Quality Management Group

Chair, Enterprise Working Group

Chair, Employability Working Group

Chair, International Foundation Programme Steering Group

Chair, Higher Education Review Steering Group

Chair, Joint Honours Programmes Development Group

Chair, Scholarships Group

Chair, Postgraduate Support Scheme Steering Group

Chair, BSeen Steering Group

Chair, Postgraduate Internship Project Steering Group

Member, Audit Committee, University.

Member, Business and Employer Engagement Committee, University.

Member, University Council, University.

Member, University Senate, University.

Member, Union Senate

Member, University Executive

Member, University Executive Operations Group.

Member, Equality and Diversity Steering Group

Member, Internal Sub-Committee of Aston Medical School Curriculum Committee

Member, Aston Medical School Operations Board


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Organisational unit: School

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