Professional Services


Empowered award

Alice Chilver and Emma Todd, co-founders of Astrea


Winners: Alice Chilver and Emma Todd

Beyond their usual roles in the UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, Emma Todd and Alice Chilver are also founding members of Astrea, a network for women in a professional services roles at UCL. 

Astrea offers peer support in a social and informal space, empowering members through events and training and assisting them with work-related goals.

At network meetings, members hear from speakers from across a wide range of UCL departments who lead open discussions about their experiences of career development.

In the last year, the network has grown to more than 300 members and now produces a newsletter publicising upcoming events as well as key issues and articles for future discussion. 

One Astrea member commented: "Having a supportive network, with so many voices sharing their experience and offering solutions to problems that affect us all, is refreshing and empowering."

Astrea is also creating new opportunities within and beyond UCL. 

The information and feedback from the network and its members is helping to shape the future direction of university policy on gender equality and diversity.

Alice and Emma are also considering sharing the template of Astrea with other universities, helping women across the higher education sector to gain better access to professional support services.


Office of the Vice-Provost (Health) team

Over the course of 2013, the Office of the Vice Provost (Health) (OVPH) team worked to support the designation of UCLPartners as an Academic Health Science Centre (AHSC) from April 2014. 

Achieving the accreditation involved organising and recording stakeholder meetings and distilling key themes for the purpose of redefining the AHSC strategy; conducting extensive policy research for a preliminary and full application; preparing the senior leadership team for the AHSC panel interview; and also managing the external communications of the project.

At an early stage in the AHSC strategy development, the plans changed direction in a fundamental way as a result of external policy factors. 

Despite the significant time and effort the team had already invested in the strategy, they rallied at short notice and reprioritised workloads in order to collectively revise the application.

In December 2013, the AHSC achieved accreditation, making it only one of six in the country. 

In supporting the application, the team brought together a diverse range of professional skill sets. The collaboration between these individuals ensured that every team knew where their work fitted into the wider picture.

Other aspects of the project research are feeding into further UCL work. The Medical Directors Quality forum uses work on NHS metrics to engage colleagues across AHSC partnership beyond the initial application.

The result of the efforts by the OVPH team and their professional and academic partners is a sense of collective ownership of and engagement with the AHSC.


SHARE@UCL is a project established within UCL Psychology and Language Sciences (PaLS) as part of an AUA Continuing Professional Development (CPD) framework pilot scheme in 2011. 

As part of an application to the AUA CPD Framework, UCL Human Resources (HR) and CPD Team Manager Cristina Gardini identified four areas for improvement: Learning and Development Networks; Mentoring; European Opportunities; and Job Shadowing.

Ms Gardini assembled a team comprised of professional services staff from across PaLS, and the project, with an aim to spread knowledge and experience, was named SHARE@UCL.

Under each of the different branches of development, SHARE organises networking days and speaking and training events for staff.

Through liaising with UCL HR and Organisational Development, the team participated in the first UCL professional services mentoring scheme, later launched as UMentor in 2013-14. 

They also took part in the ERASMUS scheme, visiting other European universities to network with staff and share best practice. 

A job shadowing programme that allowed staff members to spend a day working with someone in a similar role, first trialled in 2012-13, is now being run in the UCL Medical School. 

SHARE@UCL has encouraged professional services staff to think about their own professional development and has assisted them in actualising these plans. 

Taken on by the administrating staff as a voluntary project, it is a low-cost, accessible initiative that continues to grow in its capacity to help colleagues help one another. 

SRS Academic Skills team

The Academic Skills team in UCL Student and Registry Services delivers the university's long-term widening participation and recruitment projects through work with young people in primary and secondary schools.

In March 2013, the team's composition changed greatly and new challenges emerged in its working environment and field. 

Despite this, over the last year-and-a-half the team have made notable achievements in student experience and UCL's national leadership.

Changes enacted by the team to the UCL Transition Programme, which matches every new undergraduate student with a mentor, have resulted in student mentors being paid more quickly, mentor training becoming more engaging and better attended and improved participation in the annual first-year experience survey. 

In their work with primary school students, the team successfully bid for funding to develop a gifted and talented programme for 100 12-year-olds from London schools in widening participation backgrounds. 

The scheme has been well received and places UCL as one of the country's leaders for pre-16 outreach work. 

Further, the Academic Skills team has worked with UCL Student Disability Services, UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre to run a residential university summer school for D/deaf and hard of hearing young people.

This will take place in summer 2014 and will be a national first. 

After experiencing an office restructure in 2013, the team made notable efforts to reduce any resulting tensions and become a friendly and efficient group.

It is this collegial spirit that inspires them to create more ambitious, empowering higher education opportunities for young people. 

The Teaching Administrator Conference Organising Committee

The Teaching Administrator Conference (TAC) Organising Committee, comprised of staff members from across UCL, develops an annual event for teaching administrators and central services colleagues from across UCL and the UCL Institute of Education.

It is an opportunity for participants to network, exchange ideas and cultivate best practice.

The conference is, on average, attended by 120 colleagues drawn from all UCL faculties and relevant central services divisions.

It features 25 workshops on topics relevant to teaching administrators, which range from managing student expectations and supporting students with disabilities to improving the way Moodle is used within departments.

The event helps to raise the profile of Teaching Administrators (TAs) and build their confidence, inspiring them to support innovation in their departments and to challenge systems that are inadequate.

The conference is reviewed annually based on feedback received by participants and in response to sector-wide developments.

The annual event is supported by the TA Forum on Moodle, a platform providing year-round opportunities for networking, collaborating and sharing ideas. 

UCL Comms Network

The Lunchtime Communications Workshops were created by UCL Communications to fill a gap at UCL by supporting professional services colleagues across the organisation with communications and marketing training. 

More than 500 colleagues have attended a variety of workshops. These run throughout term time and cover a range of practical topics, from writing for the web and creating engaging multimedia content to strategic marketing, effective use of social media and recruitment of international students. 

Colleagues from all faculties have attended workshops, along with many from professional services. All of the individual faculty communications managers have been involved in either delivering training sessions or attending workshops in order to widen their own experience and skill set.

The content of the workshops is driven by the needs of those with communications-related responsibilities. 

UCL E-learning Advisory Team

The UCL E-Learning Advisory team has developed a distinctive and successful community-focused approach to develop e-learning practice and drive change at the university. 

Recently, the team supported the networking, recognition and digital literacy development of UCL's teaching administrators (TAs) through the Jisc Digital Department project (2011-2013). This empowers TAs with an authority that reflects the skilled nature of their work. 

UCL was one of the first UK universities to acknowledge the emergence of a new cadre of well-qualified TAs as critical change agents.

This led to the establishment of the Certified Membership of the Association for Learning Technology (CMALT), now open to academic colleagues as well as TAs.

Staff members who have achieved their CMALT accreditation are invited to become mentors for other candidates, thereby rapidly contributing to the e-learning literary of the UCL population.

The team has also launched a network of E-Learning Champions, consisting of individuals with whom they work to lead change at a departmental level.

When developing the institutional e-learning strategy in 2012, the E-Learning Environments team in the UCL Information Services Division were concerned to ensure departmental buy-in. This had been missing from previous plans.

The new strategy proposed pairing E-Learning Champions - one academic to one TA - and asking them to articulate departments' expectations and priorities in regard to digital learning environments. As a result of this idea, champion engagement has been excellent. 

UCL Green Impact programme

Coordinated by the UCL Environmental Sustainability team, the Green Impact programme is a UCL-wide endeavour to engage and empower students, staff and academics to improve the environmental impact of the institution. At the same time, it hopes to teach skills and sustainability literacy. 

Green Impact is a structured annual programme that breaks down the challenge of making environment improvements into easy, intuitive steps. 

These steps focus on saving energy and water, engaging peers and colleagues and building sustainability into the general management of departments.

To participate, staff and students form teams within their divisions or departments and use an online workbook to tackle their sustainability impacts. 

At the end of the year, teams are scored for their efforts and win an accreditation of bronze, silver, gold or platinum. 

The Sustainability team provides guidance throughout this process. They allow regular drop-in sessions for teams to discuss the sustainability challenges they face and how to overcome them, as well as facilitating discussions between different departments for better problem solving.

An excellent example of the empowering spirit of this programme and the way in which it can be incorporated into everyday work goals is found in the UCL Italian departmental Green Impact team.  

Established by one academic who then recruited five students, the team would only speak in Italian while working together - improving language skills and sustainability literacy at the same time. 

Provost Michael Arthur recently stated, "We all need to work together to create a more sustainable UCL". Green Impact provides a framework through which staff, students and academics have the information, resources and support to all work together on this essential task.