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Higher Education Employer Trailblazer

A Higher Education Employer Trailblazer consortium is being led by Buckinghamshire New University and The University of Sheffield and includes representatives from more than 100 universities, private providers, mission groups and sector bodies.

The consortium is hosted online by Universities UK and is supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England through its Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund. It aims to provide information for all institutions/organisations within the higher education sector.

Frequently asked questions

  1. How can my institution get involved?

    The Steering Group itself is now closed to new members for practical reasons of operational efficiency. However, the wider consortium remains open to all HEIs, with other organisations offered observer status.
    Any HEIs interested in joining the consortium should contact Jassiem Moore (Jassiem.Moore@universitiesuk.ac.uk) in order to be added to the list of members and to receive regular updates on the progress of the HE Employer trailblazer. 

  2. My institution is listed as a member. How can I find out who’s the point of contact involved?

    To find out your institution’s point of contact, please email Jassiem.Moore@universitiesuk.ac.uk.

  3.  How are you consulting with the HE sector?

    The HE Trailblazer and its respective working groups cover a wide representation of HEIs across England to ensure the apprenticeship standards meet specific needs of the HE sector. In order to consult with the wider sector, the HE Employer Trailblazer organised an open-consultation on 9th December, 2016 at Regent’s University London. The Trailblazer aims to organise other consultations in order to ensure that the standards developed by the consortium reflect the demands of the sector.

HE Trailblazer origins

Early in 2016, the increasing interest in degree apprenticeships within a number of universities prompted thoughts about the development of apprenticeship standards for their own workforce. Two regional groups emerged led by Sarah Tudor (Director of Employer Partnerships) and Professor Jane Longmore (former Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Academic at Southampton Solent University and now Vice-Chancellor at the University of Chichester). As major employers, higher education institutions were in line for significant contributions to the proposed Apprenticeship Levy. It soon became apparent that the two groups shared a common objective and, with the help of the University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), they merged to form a single consortium led by the co-convenors. From January, 2018 the HE Employer Trailblazer is now co-convened by Sean Mackney (Pro Vice-Chancellor at Buckinghamshire New University) and Professor Wyn Morgan (Vice-President for Education at The University of Sheffield).

Developments of the HE Trailblazer

An expression of interest to develop three new standards for academic professionals, university administrators and funding managers was submitted by the initial consortium at the end of April, 2016.
The Academic Professional Standard had been cleared by the DfE for development to the next stage; and a draft had been shared with the wider sector at an open consultation at Regent’s University on 9th December, 2016. Following the consultation, the standard was amended and revised accordingly in order to meet recommendations set out by the DfE and the IFA. After a succession of reiterations and re-submissions, the Academic Professional Higher Apprenticeship was approved for delivery on 8th May, 2018. The standard and assessment plan for the Academic Professional apprenticeship can be found here. The other two standards, which initially had been referred back to the consortium for further discussion were re-submitted to the DfE on the 23rd November, 2016 as an integrated standard (HE Professional), aimed at covering roles within professional services in Higher Education. After unsuccessful submissions of the HE Professional Expression of Interest, the decision was made to tighten the focus of the standard on a specific occupation. Thus, in place of the HE Professional, the HE Trailblazer has started developing two separate, but aligned standards, focused on Academic Registrars and Knowledge Exchange Professionals in Higher Education. Further information on the development of these two standards will be announced in due course.

The HE Employer Trailblazer has also submitted to the IFA an Expression of Interest for a HE Assistant Technician Professional apprenticeship in November 2017, combining efforts with The University of Sheffield - who had been leading the discussions on the proposal. In January, 2018 the IFA announced the approval of the EOI - allowing the working group to proceed with the drafting of the standard and assessment plan for the apprenticeship. Further information on this apprenticeship will be announced/ circulated in due course.

Additionally, the Higher Educational Trailblazer is also in conversation with the DfE, IFA, and relevant employers across other sectors regarding a potential level 8 apprenticeship. More information regarding this will be circulated in due course.


The philosophy of the consortium has been to emphasize flexibility in the design of the standards. From the outset the intention of the consortium has been to be as inclusive as possible in its membership. As most of the HE sector will be paying the apprenticeship levy it is important that the sector is responding with the development of standards to meet its specific needs. The number of employers involved illustrates the level of interest in the area and will hopefully ensure the approved standards are suitable for all types of employers in the sector.


Every type of institution is represented among the members of the consortium. There was recognition, however, that with separate arrangements applying in the devolved administrations, HEIs in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland might not wish to engage at this stage. 

Anglia Ruskin University

Birkbeck, University of London

Bournemouth University 

Buckinghamshire New University

Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cranfield University 

Edge Hill University 

Imperial College London

Kingston University

Leeds College of Music

Liverpool John Moores University 

London School of Economics

Middlesex University

Newman University 

Nottingham Trent University

Pearson College London

Queen's University Belfast

Royal Veterinary College

Southampton Solent University

Staffordshire University

The University of Manchester

The University of Sheffield

Ulster University

University College London

University of Birmingham

University of Brighton

University of Central Lancashire

University of Cumbria

University of Essex

University of Greenwich

University of Hull

University of Leicester

University of London

University of the Roehampton

University of St Mark and St John

University of the Arts London

​University of Worcester
​Writtle University London

Aston University

Birmingham City University

BPP University

Calderdale College 

City, University of London

De Montford University

GSM London

Keele University

Lancaster University

Leeds Trinity University

London Business School

London Southbank University

Milton Keynes College

North Lindsey College

Open University

Plymouth University

Regent's University London

Sheffield Hallam University

St George's, University of London

Teesside University

The University of Northampton

The University of Warwick

University College Birmingham

University of Bath

University of Bolton

University of Bristol

University of Chester

University of East Anglia

University of Exeter

University of Hertfordshire

University of Kent

University of Lincoln

University of Oxford

University of Salford

University of Strathclyde

​University of the West of England
​University of Wolverhampton
​York St. John University


Bath Spa University

Bishop Grosseteste University

Brunel University

Canterbury Christ Church University

Coventry University 

Durham University

Harper Adams University

King's College London

Leeds Beckett University

Liverpool Hope University

London Metropolitan University

Manchester Metropolitan University

Newcastle University

Northumbria University

Oxford Brookes University

Queen Mary University

Royal College of Art

SOAS, University of London

St Mary's, University of London

The University of Derby

The University of Nottingham

The University of Winchester

University College of Estate Management

University of Bedfordshire

University of Bradford

University of Cambridge

University of Chichester

University of East London

University of Gloucestershire

University of Huddersfield

University of Leeds

University of Liverpool

University of Portsmouth

University of Southampton

University of Sunderland

​University of West London
​University of York

Supporting organisations


​Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) ​Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) ​Association of Colleges
​Association of University Administrators (AUA) ​British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG) ​Committee of University Chairs
​GuildHE ​Higher Education Academy (HEA) ​Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE)
​Higher Education Strategic Planners Association (HESPA) ​Leadership Foundation for Higher Education ​Staff Development Forum
​​The Russell Group
​Universities and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA) ​Universities UK
​University Alliance ​University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC) ​Vitae
​Yorkshire Universities

 Related links

 The team

Greg Wade

Greg Wade

Policy Manager
Universities UK