Meet our members: Andrew Boggs

“Spending every day problem solving is also a major motivator.” Andrew Boggs, University Clerk at Kingston University, offers insights into his higher education career.

What is your higher education history?

I have spent my entire adult life working in HE, starting as a student union officer at Queen’s University (Canada) in the mid 1990s, followed by leading Ontario’s student representative organisation, serving as a senior civil servant focused on universities and medical education with the Government of Ontario, then Research Director of the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario.

Since moving to the UK in 2008, I have been fortunate to work with an army of fantastic people across many different organisations, including Universities UK, the Russell Group, and the QAA. I was also directly involved with the construction of the Higher Education Research Act (2017) while on secondment to DfE. I’ve had the opportunity to work with fascinating universities, including Oxford and St Mary’s University, before joining Kingston in the midst of the pandemic in 2020.

Over the course of my career, I have also written and published on higher education policy and history, which has allowed me to work with thought leaders on the evolution of universities in the UK and Canada.

What does your current role and remit encompass?

My current role of University Clerk ties together Kingston’s regulatory and data compliance, governance, risk and business continuity, insurance, internal audit, health and safety, and legal activities. I also serve as Kingston’s key point of contact on OfS and legislative matters.

I have a dual reporting line to the Chair of our Board of Governors and Vice-Chancellor and seek to provide assurance to the Board and Vice-Chancellor of our compliance with regulatory and legal expectations of the University. I also advise the Board and the Vice-Chancellor on policy and legislative matters.

What does a typical day look like for you in your role?

It is fair to say there is no typical day for my role – some days involve rapid firefighting and others involve ploughing through pages of regulatory or legislative guidance.

I am learning more than I ever intended about Microsoft Teams and Zoom, but on the plus side it has meant being able to engage with key contacts across the country without the need to travel.

What do you find most enjoyable and/or challenging in your role?

The most enjoyable aspect of my role are the wonderful and creative people with whom I get to work across Kingston University, as well as with other higher education bodies, including AHUA. Spending every day problem solving is also a major motivator.

What are the current challenges for your institution?

Like many universities, an increasing, and rapidly changing, regulatory and legislative environment is demanding more staff and leadership time. This represents time and resource diverted from improving and developing the student experience and exploring new opportunities. Coupled with the global pandemic, I would argue the most pressing immediate challenge is staff burnout.

What do you think are the biggest changes ahead for higher education?

Now is probably the greatest period of change for HE in England since 1992. The emergence of new providers, a radically changed funding and regulatory system, and heightened international competition for staff and students are all challenges, balanced against opportunities like new partnerships, access to new student populations, and increased interdisciplinarity.

I have a law of HE policy: there is an inverse relationship between the amount of public funding delivered to universities and the demands on universities from Government. For universities in England, I think the biggest immediate challenge to the sector is the threat of misdirected regulation and intervention by Government choking innovation and development.

Who has inspired you and why?

From my first steps into HE, my main inspiration has been my parents; neither of my parents have degrees but they were always very encouraging of me pursuing higher education – first academically and then professionally. They are also regular contributors to fundraising efforts of the universities I have attended. For two people without personal experience of higher education to be so supportive of universities is inspiring and speaks to the great story universities have to tell.