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Boards give green light for the new single sector agency

15 December 2017

The Boards of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU), the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) have formally and unanimously resolved to merge. ​

The merger follows the recommendations published earlier this year in a review of UK higher education sector agencies led by Sir David Bell, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, on behalf of Universities UK and GuildHE.

The agreement of the three Boards endorses the review finding that the core functions of the three organisations should be "merged into a single body to create a new, more responsive and holistic sector agency", supporting institutions to meet strategic challenges as they relate to equality and diversity, learning and teaching, and leadership and governance.

The new agency, which will be named in due course, will be led by Alison Johns, CEO of the LFHE. 

Nigel Carrington, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Arts London and Chair-designate of new agency, said, "I am delighted that the Boards have come to this decision. I firmly believe that the single entity will harness all the expertise and energy of the three agencies, bringing a renewed focus on the needs of the sector, delivering highly valued services cost-effectively. The new agency will deliver synergies and efficiencies that will enhance the overall offer to HE providers."

Early in the new year there will be a three-month period of detailed and extensive sector consultation, as well as the submission of Articles to the Charity Commission. The revised offer and structure for the new agency will be in place for 1 August 2018, in line with the recommendations of the Bell Review.

Alison Johns, CEO-designate of the new agency, said: "We now have an exciting opportunity to define and shape the new organisation so that it works with and for the sector, supporting it to deliver an exceptional experience for students, subscribers, members and stakeholders. The consultation period will be vital to this process, building a clear understanding of needs in a diverse and layered sector.

"There's a great array of talent and expertise in all three agencies, and I really look forward to working with those staff, combining their commitment and passion for higher education under one unified and focused offer."

The three agencies have already established a number of joint working groups to support the transition to a single agency. All three agencies remain committed to delivering their business plans during the transition period.


  1. For more information on the recommendations Sir David Bell's review, please see the January 2017 media release

  1. Alison Johns was appointed Chief Executive-designate for the new higher education sector agency in September 2017. See the media release

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