HEIR Network

Higher Education Institutional Research Network

HEIR Planning Group

Rachel Bowden (Co-Chair) is Head of the Evaluation and Policy Department at the University of Brighton (2020 conference host). She joined the University a long time ago as a Research Assistant in the University’s Education Research Centre, supporting the then Vice-Chancellor, the late Professor Sir David Watson with his research in higher education policy and practice.  She has worked in a number of roles in strategy and planning and was Deputy Director of the Strategic Planning Office for over 10 years.  She has also led the University’s engagement in a number of national institutional research projects, including What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme (with Advance HE) and the HEFCE-funded collaborative Postgraduate Support Scheme – Postgraduate Experience Project. She is a member of a number of sector groups, including the AGCAS Data Insights (Graduate Data) Group.

Matt Hiely-Rayner (Co-Chair) Director of Strategic Planning & Change, Buckinghamshire New University Matt is Director of Strategic Planning & Change at Buckinghamshire New University where he is developing a more data-driven approach to strategic change, including the introduction of predictive analytics to increase student prospects of success. With a particular interest in HE metrics that approximate the student experience, Matt previously worked on using value added scores to illustrate the unexplained gaps in degree classifications between student groups and was previously at Kingston University, overseeing the University’s institutional research function that evaluated the success of the University’s efforts to address its attainment gaps. The value added metrics derive from Matt’s other occupation, which is compiling the rankings for the Guardian’s University Guide.

Matt’s first attendance at the HEIR annual conference was the 2014 conference at Oxford Brookes and has enjoyed increasing involvement with the network ever since.

Marthie Cronje, Head of Data Analytics & Insight, University of Southampton, UK
Marthie is the current Chair of the HEIR Network Planning Group. She joined the University of Southampton  in September 2016, and currently heads up the Institutional Research team there. She has worked in Higher Education almost continuously since 1999, both in South Africa and the UK, with a stint at Jisc from 2014 to 2016. At Kingston University she was involved in student number planning and monitoring as well as data analysis relating to institutional performance and benchmarking. In South Africa, she was on the Executive Committee of the Southern African Association of Institutional Research (SAAIR), while working at the University of Johannesburg as Institutional Researcher. Marthie especially enjoys the technical aspects of building datasets and developing data visualisations

Steve Woodfield, International education policy and research specialist at the British Council
Steve is Associate Professor in Higher Education Policy and Management, and Head of Research, in the Learning and Teaching Enhancement Centre (LTEC) at Kingston University. Steve undertakes externally-funded research projects and consultancy, and institutional research projects, on a range of higher education topics, but particularly related to management and leadership and internationalisation. His work is focused on assisting policy makers, higher education practitioners, and university leaders to understand and assess the implications of strategic change in tertiary education and to design and implement strategies that can assist agencies and institutions to engage with changing political, economic, social and technological contexts. He is also the author the chapter on institutional research in in the UK and Ireland in the 2015 book ‘Institutional Research and Planning in Higher Education: Global Contexts and Themes’ 

Aisling McKenna, Director of Quality Promotion and Institutional Research, Dublin City University (2010 conference host)
Aisling is the DCU Director of Quality Promotion and Institutional Research at Dublin City University.  Her work is focused on promoting, supporting and facilitating continuous quality improvement activities across academic and administrative units throughout the University.  Her office also leads the university’s approach to applying an evidence informed approach to institutional planning, strategy development, and quality enhancement at Dublin City University.   She has worked within the higher education sector since 2007, and previous to her current role, was Institutional Research and Analysis Officer for Dublin City University.

Dr. Phil Gravestock, Dean, College of Learning & Teaching at University of Wolverhampton (2019 conference host)
Bio coming soon…

Gráinne McDonagh, Head of Insights & Planning, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences (2018 conference host)
Gráinne joined the Insights & Planning team at RCSI in August 2017. The Insights and Planning Office (IPO) works collaboratively across the institution to provide strategically relevant information and analysis to enable senior management decision-making that aligns institutional strategy with opportunities to further the academic and research reputation, performance and capability of the organisation. More recently the IPO team have developed a new stakeholder engagement system, taken responsibility for the management of university stakeholder data and plans for international engagement and global impact. Gráinne joined RCSI in November 2000 and has held various management and project executive roles in professional (surgical) training, higher education (university) and transnational education related activities. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience managing projects relating to the strategic and operational development of the university.

Dr. Gerald Prescott, University of St. Andrews (2021 conference host)
Bio coming soon…

Lee O’Farrell, University College Dublin
Lee has worked in Irish HE since 2001. His current role is as Student Record Manager in University College Dublin where his team is responsible for ensuring the ongoing accuracy of the records of UCD’s 33,000 students. He has implemented a broad range of highly innovative data-driven processes and platforms to enhance student services while reducing the operational overhead for staff. Between 2016 and 2019, he worked with Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education where he led a number of national projects focusing on learning analytics and student success. He has worked with more than 20 HEIs across Ireland, helping them to enhance the value of their data as a resource for supporting students.

Nigel Page, Director of Learning and Teaching, Kingston University London
Nigel joined Kingston University in January 2006, where he currently oversees the strategic direction, planning and oversight of learning and teaching within the School of Life Sciences, Pharmacy and Chemistry. Nigel undertakes a broad range of higher education institutional research projects including those related to diversity and inclusivity, commuting students, attainment, and enterprise and employability. Nigel has been an active contributor to the HEIR annual conferences since 2015.

Paula Keys is Director of Planning and Performance at the University of South Wales  She joined the University in 1993 following her graduation from the same institution and has worked within central roles in student administration and quality, as a Faculty Chief Operating Officer before moving to the Vice Chancellor’s Office in 2012.  Initial roles included integration of the new University of South Wales and leading on key strategic projects.  Her current role includes planning and performance, strategy implementation, transformation, line management of the university’s Corporate Communications team and Vice Chancellor’s Support Team as well as being the institutional line manager for the lead institution in the all Wales Reaching Wider programme.  She holds institutional responsibility for the annual planning and performance cycle, the Fee and Access Plan, the NSS and League Table oversight.  Data and intelligence to inform decision making and change is a major passion.

Paula is one of three co-chairs for the Welsh Planners Group and also sits on the HESPA Executive and HEDIG.

Past/founding members:
Aoife Flanagan
Helena Lim
Steve May
Clare Milsom
Ian Scott