Congratulations to Prof Helen Higson, Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Relations, who has been awarded an OBE for services to higher education in this year’s New Years Honours list.
Speaking of her honour, Helen said: ‘I was overwhelmed when I received the letter recommending me for an OBE - I never imagined I would get one. The most difficult part was having to keep quiet about the news for six weeks and not to tell anyone. I would like to thank my colleagues at Aston University for making this award possible. I have worked at Aston for 25 years and it is a great place to work and study at.’
Helen has worked at the University for more than 25 years in a variety of roles. She graduated from Newnham College, Cambridge with an MA in English Literature and has a PhD from Birkbeck College, London. She was awarded a Personal Chair in Higher Education Leadership & Management in 2008.
Helen joined Aston in 1985 as a secretary in the Pro-Vice-Chancellors’ and Planning Office. In 1988, she moved on to Aston Business School (ABS), where she spent the next twenty years in a variety of roles. She progressed from an Administrative Assistant in the Undergraduate Programme to Programme Manager, then to Associate Director for Undergraduate Studies. In 2002, she became Director of Quality in ABS, and in 2004, Associate Dean (Undergraduate Programme) and Deputy Head of Academic Programmes. In 2008, Helen was appointed Head of Learning & Teaching in the School, combining this role with her new remit as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for International Relations. In January 2010, Helen left ABS to take up a full-time role as PVC for External Relations, though she continues to teach and research within the School.
Helen has a particular research interest in higher education, with a focus on the management of higher education, academic load models, quality procedures, reflective learning, the links between theory and practice, and pedagogy and research. She is currently leading projects looking at intercultural awareness and employability competencies. Helen is Director of the Research Centre in Higher Education Learning & Management within ABS. She has published extensively and has an excellent record in securing research funding.
Words by Sally Finn