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Professor Robin Middlehurst

Professor of Higher Education.

 Professor  Robin  Middlehurst Areas of expertise

Find out more about Professor Robin Middlehurst


Robin Middlehurst was appointed as Professor of Higher Education at Kingston University in July 2007.  From May 1st 2004, she has also been on half-time secondment to the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) as Director of Strategy, Research and International.  On behalf of the LFHE, she has commissioned a significant programme of research for the higher education sector on aspects of leadership, management and governance in higher education.  She is also leading the development of the Foundation's international strategy which supports the internationalisation agenda of the UK higher education sector.

Robin's personal areas of research, teaching and consultancy are concerned with the nature and impact of change in higher education policy and practice with a particular focus on:

  • leadership and leadership development;
  • governance and management;
  • quality assurance and enhancement at national and international levels;
  • 'borderless higher education' and international HE strategy.

Robin's career has spanned research and teaching contracts at the University of Surrey and the Institute of Education, University of London.  Her research at this time focused on leadership and leadership development in universities and subsequently, quality in higher education. 

Building on her research track record, she joined the national policy agency for quality in higher education, the Higher Education Quality Council (now QAA), first as Assistant Director and subsequently Director of the Quality Enhancement Group from 1994-1998.  Here she directed a major national research and development programme on academic standards in the UK.  She returned to the University of Surrey as Director of the Centre for Continuing Education in 1998 where she was awarded a personal Chair in higher education. 

In 2000, she led an important research project on Borderless Higher Education and on the basis of the report's recommendations, Universities UK and the Association of Commonwealth Universities  jointly established the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, a global strategic information service for higher education institutions. Robin was invited to join their Advisory Board in 2005.

Research work undertaken at the University of Surrey on leadership and leadership development in the higher education sector has ultimately contributed to the establishment of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education.  Robin's research has also led to her direct engagement in leadership development work: since 1999-2000 she has co-directed the successful Top Management Programme for Higher Education and contributes to leadership development programmes for a number of UK universities.  She is invited to undertake consultancy and research work for national and international organisations including UNESCO, OECD, UUK and the UK funding bodies. 

Robin is on the editorial board of the following journals: Perspectives (Journal of the Association of University Administrators); Tertiary Education and Management (Journal of the European Association for Institutional Research) Higher Education Policy and Management (Journal of the Institutional Management in Higher Education Programme, OECD).

Robin has taught at all levels of education from primary to adult and higher education; she also has a background in social and youth work and is currently a member of Roehampton University's Council.


Year gained Subject
1994 University of Brighton: Postgraduate Diploma in Business Research Methods.
1982 - 1985 University of Reading: M.Phil-Education (ESRC Studentship)
1980 University of London, PGCE.
1973 - 1976 University of Lancaster: BA (Hons) History.

Career Highlights

Year Position held
2007 - Kingston University - Professor of Higher Education & Convener, Higher Education Policy & Practice (HEPP) Research Network.
2004 - 2007 University of Surrey - Director of Centre for Policy & Change in Tertiary Education (CPCTE) and Professor of Higher Education.
2004 - Leadership Foundation for Higher Education - Director - Strategy, Research and International and member of senior management team.
2000 - 2004 University of Surrey - Director of Development (School of Education) and Professor of Higher Education.
1998 - 2000 University of Surrey - Director, Centre for Continuing Education and Professor of Higher Education.
1997 - 1998 Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (HEQC merger) - Director, Development Directorate.
1994 - 1997 Director, Quality Enhancement Group.
1993 - 1994 Higher Education Quality Council - Assistant Director, Quality Enhancement Group.
1990 - 1993 University of London - Lecturer.
1986 - 1991 University of Surrey - Research Officer/Principal Investigator.
1980 - 1986 Surrey County Council - youth worker/outreach tutor/deputy head of adult education/secondary school teacher.
1977 - 1979 South London Hospital for Women - social work aide.
1976 - 1977 London Borough of Merton, Citizens Advice Bureau, advice worker.


Post-RAE 2001 Publications: Robin Middlehurst

Publications while at University of Surrey

Middlehurst R. (2001). 'University Challenges: Borderless Higher Education, Today and Tomorrow', Minerva 39, pp3-26 (March 2001).

Middlehurst R. (2001) 'Quality Assurance Implications of New Forms of Higher Education: Part 1: 'A typology', ENQA Occasional Papers 3, Helsinki, European Network for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (September 2001) (Commissioned Report - based on research undertaken 1999-2000)

Middlehurst R. (2001) 'Developments in Borderless Education', In: THEMA 5, 4-7, Tijdschrift voor Hoger Onderwijs en Management, 's Gravenhage, Elsevier (October 2001) (Internal University Magazine)


Middlehurst R. and Kennie T. (2001) 'Insight into HESDA's Top Management Programme for Higher Education (UK)', HESDA Briefing Paper 95, December 2001, Sheffield, Higher Education Staff Development Agency (December 2001) (Commissioned paper - based on consultancy work)

Middlehurst R. (2002) 'The International Context for UK Higher Education' In: Ketteridge, S. Marshall S. and Fry H. (eds) The Effective Academic: Handbook for Enhanced Academic Practice, London, Kogan Page, pp13-31, (January 2002).

Middlehurst R. (2002) 'Quality Assurance and Accreditation for Virtual Education: A discussion of models and needs' (pp99-109)  In: B. Wachter (ed) The Virtual Challenge to International Co-operation in Higher Education, ACA Papers on International Co-operation in Education, Bonn, Lemmens (February 2002)  (Book Chapter arising from Keynote Address at International Conference)

Also published as:

Middlehurst R. (2003) 'Quality Assurance and Accreditation for Virtual Education: A Discussion of Models and Needs' Paris, UNESCO/Economica.  pp35-44.

Middlehurst R. (2002) 'Is an eager UK Academy able to take on the world?' Times Higher, 22-23, 26.4.02 (April 2002).

Middlehurst R. (2002) 'Variations on a Theme: Complexity and Choice in a World of Borderless Education', (pp134-155) Journal of Studies in International Education, vol.6, no.2, summer 2002.

Middlehurst R. and Garrett R. (2002) Developing Senior Managers in Higher Education, Summary Report and Volume II, Supporting Evidence. Published by HESDA and  as part of Good Management Practice funded research (Research Report)

Middlehurst R. (2002). 'Trends in Higher Education and the Binary Divide' in Verslag van de conferentie 14.11.02 (10-20) Keynote address to conference held by Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and Hoogeschool Windesheim (Conference Proceedings) 'Hoger onderwijs zonder grenzen' (2002) in Bijdragen 5-7 July 2002.  Report of keynote conference address. (Internal University Magazine Article).

The Centre for Policy and Change in Tertiary Education at the University of Surrey and The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (October 2003). 'Redesigning Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Using ICT: Balancing Quality, Access and Cost - A Study of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign and its Potential for UK Higher Education'. A commissioned Report to the Department for Education and Skills, London.

Middlehurst R. and Jackson N. (2003) 'The Higher Education Quality Council's Quality Enhancement Group: Brokering Enquiry, Policy and Action' In: Jackson, N (ed) Engaging and Changing Higher Education through Brokerage Aldershot, Ashgate.  pp109-123.

Middlehurst R. (2003) 'A World of Borderless Higher Education: Impact and Implications' In: d'Antoni, S (ed) (2003). The Virtual University: Models and Messages - Lessons from Case Studies' (ch 3 pp2-15) (published electronically: Subsequently published as book chapter in d'Antoni, S. (ed) (2006) The Virtual University: Models and Messages - Lessons from Case Studies, Paris, UNESCO (pp71-88)

Middlehurst R. (2003). 'The Developing World of Borderless Higher Education: Markets, Providers, Quality Assurance and Qualifications' in Conference Proceedings of the First Global Forum on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications. Paris, UNESCO.  25-39 (Conference Proceedings - invited paper)

Middlehurst R. (2003) 'Competition, Collaboration and ICT: challenges and choices for higher education institutions' In van der Wende M & van der Ven M (eds) The Use of ICT in Higher Education: A Mirror of Europe, Bonn, Uitgeverij Lemma BV  (Book Chapter following invited keynote address at International Conference) (pp253-275)

Middlehurst R. & Kennie T. (2003) 'Managing for Performance: today and tomorrow' in Hall A (ed) Managing People, Maidenhead, SRHE/Open University Press pp76-97.

Middlehurst R. and Woodfield S. (2004) Transnational, Private and For-Profit Education: Mapping, Regulation and Impact. Final Research Report to UNESCO and COL.  (published electronically:

Middlehurst R. and Campbell C. (2004) 'Quality Assurance and Borderless Higher Education: Finding Pathways through the Maze'.  In Mapping Borderless Higher Education: Policy, Markets and Competition.  London, OBHE, pp89-153  (Book Chapter) (and on-line Report)

van der Wende M. and Middlehurst R. (2004) 'Cross-border post-secondary education in Europe'.  In Internationalisation and Trade in Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges. Paris, CERI/OECD. pp87-135  (Chapter in OECD Report)

Middlehurst R. and Woodfield S. (2004).  'Transnational, Private and For-profit education: mapping, regulation and impact - lessons from international comparisons'.  In: Department for Education and Skills Research Conference 2003: Learning by comparison: International Experiences in Education and Training A Selection of Papers .  Nottingham: Department for Education and Skills.  Research Report: CR2003, pp93-104.

Middlehurst R. (2004). 'Changing Internal Governance: A Discussion of Leadership Roles and Management Structures in UK Universities'.  Higher Education Quarterly, vol 58, no 4, October 2004. pp258-279.

Middlehurst R (2004) 'Corporate Governance in Other Sectors and Countries' (Ch 3 pp17-23) and Middlehurst R. 'Good Practice in Selecting, Inducting and Supporting Governors' (Ch 4 pp 24-33)

In: CHEMS (2004) Report to the CUC on Good Practice in Six Areas of Governance in Higher Education Institutions. Sheffield, Committee of University Chairmen.

Middlehurst R. and Woodfield S. (2005). International Quality Review and Distance Learning: Lessons from Five Countries. CHEA Occasional Paper. CHEA Institute for Research and Study of Accreditation and Quality Assurance. Washington DC, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (pp1-80)  (Research Report)

Middlehurst R. (2005) 'Perspectives on Leadership and Higher Education' Invited keynote address to AUA Annual Conference in Warwick, 14-16 March 2005

Middlehurst R. (2006) 'Quality Review in Distance Learning: A Study of Policy and Practice in Five Countries' in Tertiary Education and Management, vol.12, no 1, pp37-58.

Middlehurst R. and Woodfield, S. (2007) Responding to the Internationalisation Agenda: Implications for Institutional Strategy and Practice. Research Report for the Higher Education Academy Available at:

Middlehurst, R. (2007). 'A Challenging Journey: From Leadership Courses to Leadership Foundation for Higher Education' in Glickman, T. and White, S. (eds) Managing for Innovation, New Directions for Higher Education. 137, Spring 2007, pp45-57.

Middlehurst, R. (2007). 'Leading and Managing Internationalisation' (pp27-32) and 'Human Resource Development: A UK Perspective' (pp 96-98). In Conraths, B. and Trusso, A. (eds) Managing the University Community: Exploring Good Practice. EUA Case Studies 2007. Brussels, European University Association, pp27-32.

Middlehurst, R., Kennie T., and Faraday D. (2007) "Leading the Way in Higher Education: A 20-year Journey from the University of Surrey to the Leadership Foundation" (Invited paper for International Colloquium and Festschrift for John Adair, 5-6 September 2005).  (Reviewed and published as book chapter) in Gosling,J., Care,P., & Witzel,M. (eds) (2007). John Adair: Fundamentals of Leadership. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.  pp124-145.

Fielden, J., Middlehurst, R., & Woodfield, S. (2007). Global Horizons for UK Students: A Guide for Universities.  London, Council for Industry and Higher Education. (July 2007).

Publications while at Kingston University (July 2007-)

Middlehurst, R. and Woodfield, S. (2007). 'International activity or international strategy? Insights from an institutional pilot study in the UK'. Tertiary Education and Management. Vol. 13, no.3. pp 263-279.  (September 2007)

Middlehurst, R. (2008). "Leadership and Internationalisation." in The Global University: the role of senior managers. Pp15-19.  London, Bournemouth University/DEA.

Middlehurst, R. (2008). "Not enough science or not enough learning?  Exploring the gaps between leadership theory and practice". Higher Education Quarterly.  Vol 62, no. 4, pp322-339. (October 2008)

Middlehurst, R. (2008). "Changing patterns of internationalisation: implications for higher education" in Clarke, K. (ed) (2008) Quality in Partnership: 25 years of the Council of Validating Universities. Council of Validating Universities, Milton Keynes, Open University. Pp 83-105 (Invited book chapter) (November 2008)

Middlehurst, R. (2008) - "Developing Institutional Internationalisation Policies and Strategies: an Overview of Key Issues". Internationalisation of European Higher Education: An EUA/ACA Handbook. B 1.1-1 pp1-24. Berlin, RAABE.

Middlehurst, R. Woodfield, S. & Fielden, J. (2008). Universities and International Higher Education Partnerships: Making a Difference.   Final Report to Million + (October 2008).

Middlehurst, R., Goreham, H. & Woodfield, S. (2009). "Why Research Leadership in Higher Education? Exploring Contributions from the UK's Leadership Foundation for Higher Education". Leadership. Vol. 5, no. 3. August 2009. pp311-329

Becker, R., Lasanowski, V., Goreham, H, Olcott, D., Woodfield, S., Middlehurst, R., Carbonell, J-A. (2009) UK Universities and Europe: Competition and Internationalisation. UK Higher Education Europe Unit & UK Higher Education International Unit. Research Series/3. April 2009.

Middlehurst, R. (2009).   "The Heart of Leadership: Preparing Leaders for Tomorrow". Paper for AKEPT (Higher Education Leadership Academy, Malaysia) Conference, December 2008.

Middlehurst, R. (2009).  "The Quality of University Leaders in the 21st Century". Paper for Centennial Conference, University of Ireland, 1-3 December, 2008

Middlehurst R, Kennie, T & Woodfield, S. (2010). "Leading & Managing the University - Presidents and their Senior Management Team" Baker, E, Peterson, P & McGaw, B. (eds.) (2010) International Encyclopaedia of Education 3rd edition, vol. 4. New York, Elsevier, pp238-244

 Fielden, J., Middlehurst, R. & Woodfield, S. (2010). The Growth of Private and For-Profit Higher Education Providers in the UK. London, Universities UK 

Middlehurst, R. (2010 - in press): "Accountability and cross-border higher education: dynamics, trends and challenges" in Stensaker, B & Harvery, L. (eds) Accountability in Higher Education. London, Routledge pp

Middlehurst, R. (2010 - in press). "Understanding and developing your role as a leader" in Leadership and Governance in Higher Education: A Handbook for Decision-makers and Administrators. Berlin, RAABE  pp

 Middlehurst, R. & Wooldridge, E. (2010 - in press). "Leading in Challenging Times". Higher Education Policy and Management. pp

Middlehurst, R. & Woodfield, S. (2010). EAIR paper  

Media Highlights

Robin has written a number of news articles, including pieces for the Times Higher Education (THE) supplement. She has also been interviewed by the Guardian, the Independent and THE.

Professional Body Membership

Society for Research into Higher Education  (elected a Fellow in 2009).

European Association for Institutional Research.

Major Research Collaborations

Robin has worked on a number of research, development and consultancy partnerships and commissions with, amongst others:


Ranmore Consulting;

CHEMS Consulting;

the Higher Education Consultancy Group;



the UK funding councils;


Universities UK;

the European University Association;

the American Council on Education;

the Higher Education Leadership Academy Malaysia;

the Southern Africa Regional University Association;

the LH Martin Institute, Australia.


Contact us

General enquiries:

Journalists only:

  • Communications team
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3034
    Email us

Contact us

General enquiries:

Journalists only:

  • Communications team
    Tel: +44 (0)20 8417 3034
    Email us