Wells Advisory
in the UK

In the UK, Wells Advisory partners with clients across the higher education sector, providing advice, guidance and support on strategy and operations in order to achieve successful outcomes.

Services we provide

For clients in the UK, or investing in the UK, our team combined senior UK-based consultants, with team members based in Australia and elsewhere, have a collective experience and track record in assisting universities worldwide to find solutions to some of their most challenging problems. A selection of our global service offering is set out below.

  • Higher Education New Provider Registration

    We offer a range of consultancy services to support new higher education providers with UK market entry.

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    Higher education providers wishing to enter the UK market must meet the requirements of the regulatory body appropriate to the jurisdiction in which they intend to operate. The majority of HE provision is situated in England (rather than Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland) so registration with the Office for Students (OfS) is necessary to become a registered English Higher Education Provider. Registration is also necessary as a pre-requisite for obtaining degree awarding powers.

    We offer a range of consultancy services to support new higher education providers with market entry to the UK.

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  • Inward Investment

    We provide M & A and brokerage advice for investment in higher education providers in the UK.

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    Working on either side of transactions we provide specialist regulatory, strategic and commercial advice and utilise our wide international network to bring motivated investors, buyers and sellers together and then facilitating progress to successful outcomes. Recently, we acted for the China Education Group in arranging a financial and strategic partnership with Richmond the American University in London and we are working with clients on similar opportunities in the UK higher education sector.

  • Partnership and franchise arrangements

    We assist higher education providers in negotiating appropriate UK and international partnership arrangements to suit their particular purposes.

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    There are many reasons why partnerships between providers can be advantageous to both parties, including student recruitment, validation and franchise arrangements, articulation agreements, geographical and curriculum expansion and the meeting of widening participation objectives. The current regulatory framework for higher education in England defines a number of key terms for higher education partnership provision, together with the responsibilities of the respective partners. We can support both lead and delivery partners in establishing appropriate sub-contractual arrangements as well as auditing existing partnerships.

  • Governance and leadership

    We have in depth understanding and appreciation of the governance structures required to achieve success at a strategic level as well as fulfilling legal and regulatory compliance.

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    We are able to offer governance reviews, to consider Board effectiveness and culture as well as committee and member effectiveness and engagement. If the committee structure isn’t working well, the Board of governors requires strategic alignment or purposeful team building.

    We are able to offer leadership review and advice on restructuring and help with the need for achieving cost reduction across the activities of the senior team. We also can provide leadership mentoring and support to tackle issues at an individual or team level. This may involve providing an external review of strategic programmes to achieve change, or providing oversight at a programme board level to help drive results.

  • Portfolio review

    We have considerable expertise in conducting portfolio reviews in higher education provision to ensure that the curriculum offer is fit-for-market and fit-for-purpose in relation to institutional mission.

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    In the current climate it is crucial for the learning experience to be perceived as providing value for money by students, and for delivery to be cost effective for the institution. To be competitive, providers need to offer courses which are attractive to prospective students and offer a coherent experience of knowledge and skills, incorporating employability and entrepreneurship through an appropriate learning strategy and graduate attributes. This should address the needs of employers and older students as well as those of young graduates who may need to re-skill or up-skill in response to changing industry needs. In particular we can provide support for innovative solutions such as incorporating short courses and micro-credentials in the curriculum.

Link to all Global Services

Watch the video of our AU and UK directors discussing ...


Who are we?

Wells Advisory is a management consulting firm that focusses exclusively on the higher education sector. For the UK market, our local team is composed of a number of highly experienced educational professionals who have occupied some of the most senior positions in UK Higher Education and its associated organisations. We are also experienced in public affairs and government relations. Where the team requires additional professional advice and support, it can draw on well-established relationships with legal and accountancy firms and professionals. Moreover, our UK team is augmented by the wider Wells Advisory team to provide additional consultancy support.

  • Roger King

    Professor Roger King

    Director & Chair, UK

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    D.Univ (Lincoln)
    M.Soc Sc (Birmingham)
    B.Sc Hons Economics (London)

    Roger has had and continues a distinguished career in higher education, including advising at all levels and in many emerging contexts. He was a Vice-Chancellor at the University of Lincoln from 1989 – 2001 and was founding Chair of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (now part of HE Academy).   From 2009 he was a Visiting Professor at the Open University (UK) (until 2014) and a Visiting Professor at the University of Bath (current). He is a Research Associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science (Centre for the Analysis of Risk and Regulation).

    Roger has also been a Visiting Professor at a number of Australian Universities including Queensland, QUT, Griffith and Sunshine Coast.

    Since 2013 Roger has been a Member of the independent, cross-political party Higher Education Commission (parliamentary based), including co-authoring its Report Regulating Higher Education. 

    He is Chairman of the Board of Governors of the UK College of Business and Computing (UKCBC), London and Dubai.

    He has worked with and consulted for universities, colleges, governments and regulatory agencies globally. His key areas of expertise are higher education management and governance, risk management and regulation, higher education policy and globalisation.  Roger is an extensively published author of key works on risk, governance and higher education.


    +44 787 969 5261

  • Elizabeth Halford

    Dr Elizabeth Halford

    Director, UK

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    EdD (UCL)
    MA (Oxford Brookes)
    Principal Fellow HEA

    Liz is an independent higher education consultant with extensive experience as an academic and senior leader in UK universities and regulatory agencies. Previously Head of Research and Intelligence at the UK Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) from 2012 – 2016, she was also Head of Validation and Review at the University of West London. Liz’s specialist areas of expertise are in the strategic development of higher education institutions, together with the quality assurance and enhancement of higher education provision. Her approach to problem solving and seeking solutions is based upon practical experience of teaching and managing higher education, underpinned by applied research and her appointments in governance roles in public and private providers. Liz has published and presented internationally on the challenges of regulating diversity in pluralistic systems of higher education.


    +44 796 091 0298

  • Michael Wells

    Michael Wells

    Managing Director, Australia and UK

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    BA LLB (Melb)
    MMktg (Melb)

    Michael Wells, Founding Director of Wells Advisory, is one of the leading advisors on higher education in Australia. Michael advises public and private clients on mission-critical issues including institutional strategy, license to operate, and partnerships. He has a strong reputation and network within the higher education sector in Australia and internationally.

    Over the last 25 years, Michael has worked at the cutting edge of higher education, with senior roles spanning government, university and private sector. He was appointed a Commissioner to help design and set up Australia’s national regulator TEQSA, he was a member of the senior executive at the University of Melbourne leading planning, QA, finance and risk, and prior to that spent a decade in the private sector advising (including universities) on brand strategy, valuation and defence. Michael holds degrees in law, economics and marketing, and is admitted to legal practice.


    +61 400 904 926

  • Alison Allden OBE

    Principal Advisor

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    BA Hons (Bristol)
    MSc Distinction (London School of Economics)
    Fellow of the British Computer Society FBCS
    Member of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals MCILIP
    Member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists MIFA

    Alison Allden has had a particularly distinguished career in the UK higher education sector and was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education in 2016.

    She is currently a Trustee on the Board of Northumbria University in Newcastle where she chairs the Strategic Performance Committee and is Deputy Chair of Regent’s University London. She is also a member of the Bar Standards Board which regulates barristers and particularly provides expertise in education and training.

    She was most recently the CEO of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) that is responsible for the collection and publication of information for the UK higher education sector.  Prior to that she held senior executive roles in a number of prestigious UK universities, including Bristol, Warwick and Goldsmiths. Her leadership responsibilities ranged across the full student experience, recruitment and commercial provision and IT and learning resources.

    As well as these substantive leadership roles in higher education she has led major innovative digital initiatives across the HE sector including most recently the adoption of metrics and data analytics to support strategic performance and for regulatory purposes. She was on the Board of Jisc and a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Leadership, Governance and Management Strategic Advisory Committee and chaired innovation committees for Economic and Social Research Council and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  Prior to her career in higher education she was an IT professional and began her working life as an archaeologist.

    She offers Board level advice and development on governance issues across the higher education sector underpinned by real experience. Further she can offer expertise to organisations based on her track record of consultancy across a range of providers, covering issues that have included strategic planning to achieve improved outcomes and the resultant organisational change, the analysis and enhancement of the student experience and the adoption of metrics based performance management. She also provides expert advice on information systems, data management, information strategy and the enhancement of digital teaching, learning and student support. In a personal capacity she provides mentoring and coaching to a number of senior staff in higher education.


    +44 7867 908 026

  • Chris Cobb

    Principal Advisor

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    Chris has over 35 years’ higher education experience holding senior positions at the London School of Economics, Roehampton University and most recently as PVC & Chief Operating Officer for the University of London. He is also an experienced interim leader overseeing both change and transition. Chris Cobb is CEO at the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music.

    Chris is particularly expert in organisational development, governance, digital strategies, and estates master planning. As a former member of the HUMANE Executive (2018-2020) and the AHUA  Executive (2014-2016) Chris is well networked with senior University leaders in the UK and across Europe. He has sat on a number of national working groups including the OfS HE Financial Sustainability Steering Group, the HESA Data Futures Programme Board and in 2020 he led a national QAA / Jisc / Emerge Education review of digital assessment.

    Chris is a judge for the Times Higher and he sits on the boards of Advance HE and Cass & Claredale Student Housing Trust. He is also a governor of Goodenough College, a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

    Chris is a regular speaker at HE and technology conferences and has sat on a number of national working groups relating to IT in Higher Education. Chris was a member of Oracle EMEA HE Advisory Group, Ovum’s Future EdTech Advisory Board and the HEFCE Shared Services working group. He has also undertaken funded research in the use of enterprise architecture within a university context with the specific aim of developing a services oriented architecture.



  • Guy Edwards

    Dr Guy Edwards

    Practice Lead, Strategy and Planning

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    MA (Melb)
    GradDip(Econ) (Lond)
    PhD (Cantab)

    Guy Edwards is an experienced strategy consultant and senior manager across higher education, global healthcare and the interfaces between the two. He has particular expertise in university strategy and analytics, research strategy, and research commercialisation, with a focus on medical innovation, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. His consulting experience includes working with global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, private equity and investors, and government clients.


    Prior to joining Wells Advisory, Guy held roles in strategy consulting firms in the UK and Australia, was a senior advisor and project manager at the University of Melbourne, and completed his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge, where he taught at both undergraduate and graduate level.


    +61 473 216 388

  • Professor Sir Deian Hopkin

    Principal Advisor

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    BA (Hons), PhD (Wales)
    Hon D.Litt (London, Glamorgan), Hon LL.D (McGill), Hon D.Univ (Open)
    Hon Fellow, Aberystwyth University, University of Wales Trinity St David’s
    Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
    Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Science,
    Fellow of City and Guilds Institute of London
    Hon Fellow, Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineering
    Freeman of the City of London

    Deian’s areas of interest are governance, strategic planning, resource management, income generation and workforce development.  He has also long experience of distance learning and the use of technology in pedagogy having spent 18 years working as an associate at the Open University. This profile is a strong fit with Wells Advisory and its clients.

    A historian by profession, Sir Deian Hopkin has worked in six UK universities over a 45-year career, culminating as Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of London South Bank University and later as interim Vice-Chancellor of the University of East London.  He was an early adopter of new technologies in the humanities and co-founder of the Association of History and Computing.  Deian was founding Chairman of Cityside Regeneration in London, was appointed by the Secretary of State to the UK Learning and Skills Council, the Healthcare Sector Skills Council, and as an Apprenticeships Ambassador.

    Deian co-chaired the Higher Education Progression Board at the Department of Education, was a member of the Mayor of London’s Employment and Skills Board, and from 2008 to 2020 served on the Council of City and Guilds.  He has been a governor of two Further Education Colleges in London and the Council and Court of the University of Essex.   Following his inquiry for the Government into the failures of the Student Loans Company in 2009/10, he was appointed interim Chair.

    Deian was a member of the BBC General Advisory Council and was President of the National Library of Wales until 2016. From 2012 to 2020, Deian was the Expert Adviser to the First Minister of Wales, Chair of Wales Remembers, 1914-18, and served on the UK Centenary Advisory Board. He currently serves on the Higher Education Commission in Westminster and is a trustee of the Council for Academics-at-Risk (CARA), the Campaign for Learning and the Worshipful Company of Educators in the City of London.  He is a founding Associate Partner of Anderson Quigley Executive Search and since 2012 has been involved in the appointment of numerous senior university managers, including Vice-Chancellors and Chairs of Governors. In 2009 he was knighted for services to higher education and to skills in the UK.



  • Dr Glenn Swafford

    Principal Advisor

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    PhD (Flinders)
    M Pol Law (La Trobe)
    BA(Hons) (VUW)

    Dr Glenn Swafford is a senior manager with strong interests in policy analysis and development as well as research strategy and advice. Glenn has a twenty-year track record of significant achievement in research management and administration, particularly at the University of Melbourne where he held senior management roles in its Research and Innovation Office for 15 years, and at Oxford University, UK, as Director of Research Services for ten years Glenn continues to be a strategic advisor on research, innovation and commercialisation to the University of Melbourne

    In addition to his university career, Glenn is an executive consultant to a number of international clients and is highly involved in community volunteering and sports.

    Glenn partners with Wells Advisory’s clients in the higher education sector nationally and internationally on projects involving research strategy and leadership, and research commercialisation.




  • Helen Thorne

    Principal Advisor

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    BSc (Hons) Field of Study Biology/Biological Sciences, General (University of York)

    Helen is an experienced executive with over 20 years of experience working within the higher education sector in the UK and US. Helen brings specialised expertise across research, innovation, student recruitment and admissions.  She was awarded an MBE for services to the administration of science in 2007.

    Helen was an executive director at UCAS, a charity responsible for facilitating student choices and applications and admissions to UK universities and colleges between 2010 and 2020.  She was part of the team that led the transformation of UCAS into an agile, digital business and has a wide range of leadership experience across strategy, digital product development, marketing and government and stakeholder relations.  Additionally, Helen led national consultations on reforming aspects of university admissions and sat on advisory committees for widening access to higher education, better regulation and use of higher education data, and student finance.

    Helen is currently a Trustee on the Board of Northumbria University in Newcastle and a member of its Strategic Performance Committee. Prior to this, Helen held senior positions at the Russell Group of Universities and the UK’s Research Councils, including establishing the Councils’ presence in the US to grow trans-Atlantic research collaboration.

    Helen partners with Wells Advisory’s clients in the higher education sector nationally and internationally with particular focus in student recruitment and business transformation.



  • Michelle Lee

    Michelle Lee

    General Manager

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    GradCert HRM (AIM)

    Michelle Lee leads our business operations team managing our finances, human resources, communications, marketing, technology and internal projects.

    Her focus is to align our strategic direction with our practices here in Australia.

    She has over 20 years’ experience utilising her commercial business acumen to augment the operations of organisations to facilitate growth and expansion. She has worked with large to medium organisations in various industries including banking and finance, building and professional services.


    +61 400 904 926

Link to Global Team

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