Why Attend?

Download the detailed Business Case Template - here

Why attend the Lean HE Conference?

Lean in Higher Education (Lean HE) is a global, not-for-profit community established by university professionals in 2013. The purpose of Lean HE is to encourage continuous improvement within universities and through this, support the advancement of the global tertiary sector. The community of practice achieves this through reflexively sharing learnings, supporting growth and leading improvement practice across the globe. Lean HE enables university staff to live by their own practice; it enables the continuous improvement of our people through direct peer learning, practical professional development and a blend of formal and informal collaboration.

Lean HE exists for the benefit of all participating higher education institutions. It spans over three continents and over 90 universities. The work of Lean HE’s members has been acknowledged and endorsed by bodies such as the Efficiency Exchange, Advance HE (previously known as the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education), the Association for Tertiary Education Management and previously the Higher Education Funding Council for England. In 2019, Lean HE will publish its first anthology of case studies, approaches and tools with Routledge, the world’s leading academic publisher in Humanities and Social Sciences. The community has also supported research leading to two other volumes published this year, Lean Culture in Higher Education: Towards Continuous Improvement, and Lean in the Classroom: The Powerful Strategy for Improving Student Performance and Developing Efficient Processes.

The advice of Lean HE community members is regularly sought by ranked and award-winning universities as well as external industries. Lean HE community members may freely request the guidance of any other member. Our steering group members commit time to support their peers.

Membership Fees

Joining and participating in this community of practice is free. Lean HE does not charge membership fees and is strictly not-for-profit. Its operations reflect lean principles by drawing on the expertise, passion and enthusiasm of those working in higher education improvement. This is reflected in the comparatively low price of the international conference.

Lean HE provides similar benefits to those of a professional society, without any up-front or on-going costs. The cost of attending an annual conference is equivalent to, and in some instances, less than the cost of membership to a professional body.

Benefits of Lean HE

Continental divisions provide quarterly and local development opportunities to encourage local connectivity and collaboration. An annual flagship international conference provides delegates with access to:

  • Direct access to leading practice in improvement in higher education;
  • Business practices of globally ranked and award-winning institutions and practitioners;
  • Over 90 diverse improvement approaches and methodologies);
  • Direct, relevant and functional professional development for all levels (entry, immediate, masterclasses delivering applied and theoretical content);
  • Coaching/mentoring opportunities;
  • Peer-learning and resource-sharing;
  • On-going access to advice, support and guidance;
  • Industry insight and study tours (in situ);
  • Opportunities for staff to generate presenter profiles; and,
  • Opportunities to see application of improvement methodologies in situ.

Further benefits to institutions include:

  • Low-cost, high-impact development opportunities for improvement staff;
  • Maturity checks, validation of or opportunities to review continuous improvement opportunities against industry;
  • Reduction in costs through to resource-sharing;
  • Embedded improvement-cycle; and,
  • Peer-reviewed publication opportunities, presentation and public profiling opportunities.


Delegates have reported of previous conferences:

I remember leaving my first Lean HE meeting feeling so energised knowing that there were other people facing the same issues across the sector and trying to apply lean thinking to resolve them. It’s great to be able to share experiences, success stories, challenges and tools across a global forum. The main benefit is confidence and affirmation that what we are doing is useful.

Michael Atkin, Project Manager, University of Adelaide, Australia

One of the main benefits in participating in the Lean in Higher Education community is that it’s given the University of Strathclyde access to a collaborative network of universities across the world who are freely willing to share their methodologies, approaches, experiences, expertise and tools. We’ve taken many of these ideas, adapted them and then implemented them in our own university with great effect. Similarly, I am always happy to share the approach we take at the University of Strathclyde with anyone from the wider Lean HE community.

John Hogg, Director of CI, University of Strathclyde, Scotland

The Lean HE is a wonderful network of practitioners, whose members are open, collegial and generous with their time. Their insights, experiences and learning around process improvement within their own institutions have significantly helped us with our own journey. I would strongly recommend to anyone within HE looking at or interested in process improvement to join.

Sara Sharif, Director Lean and Simplification, University of Tasmania, Australia

By being part of Lean in Higher Education my team and I have been able to learn new tools that we have incorporated into the “tool kit” to produce successful outcomes in projects to deliver a better experience for the University of Melbourne’s academics, researchers and students. The strong network, especially in Australasia, has enabled me to discuss with my peers similar challenges and the diverse ways of delivering projects across Higher Education institutions.

Brendan Snowden, Associate Director, Service Improvement, Continuous Improvement and Robotic Process Automation, University of Melbourne, Australia

As chair of this global network, I have developed my leadership skills; I work with some amazing people doing wonderful improvement work. It’s a privilege to connect improvers from around the world, who come together for the benefit of the global higher education community. As a result of being involved with Lean in Higher Education community, I have worked with colleagues to develop a model facilitation framework for change in higher education, which has really changed how I facilitate meetings in my university. I am also working with colleagues in local universities to roll that our further afield.

Steve Yorkstone, Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland

I love being involved with the work that Lean in Higher Education is doing, building up the partnerships that we have, growing genuine relationships that are beneficial in many, many ways. I love the possibilities Lean HE creates for university staff to learn from each other, trying out things together, to challenge each other safely and respectfully and sometimes, getting things wrong, which is where our greatest learnings come from.

Dr Tammi Sinha, Senior Lecturer in Project and Operations Management, University of Winchester, England

The Lean in Higher Education network has given our small team access to a wealth of knowledge and experience across the globe. As a team of two, our resources must be well-invested; Lean HE has enabled us to grow, expand, develop and most importantly, to share our own learnings. In turn, this allows higher education itself to grow and improve, which is beneficial to our students, industry and communities.

Melissa Hankinson, Deputy Director, Quality and Service Improvement, University of Canberra, Australia

I was introduced to this network at the International Lean in Higher Education Conference in November 2017. For me, this introduction was groundbreaking; a framework I have been searching for. Finding a group of like-minded individuals, where their main objective is continuous improvement, process redesign and service improvement was revolutionary. Ongoing involvement with this network has provided inspiration to run facilitation sessions at my institution on the "End to End Process Mindset" using lean tools SIPOC and Value Stream Mapping.

Kate Aylmore, Senior Manager, Innovation and Systems, Charles Sturt University, Australia

As a member of Lean in Higher Education I’ve been able to benefit from my relationships with other community members and the network to help develop our strategy going forward into the twenty-first century.

Mick Gash, Lean Program Manager, University of Nottingham, England

I first became aware of Lean in HE through the work of Mark Robinson and the University of St Andrews. We were in the process of developing a university service strategy at the time and wanted to understand whether Lean was a suitable methodology to adopt as our preferred improvement methodology. We did adopt Lean, discovered the Lean HE network and the rest, as they say, is history. The network has been an invaluable experience for me and our team through obvious networking opportunities but more importantly I have been able to learn from the real experiences of universities as well as other organisations in 'doing it.' A participant in one of our recent Lean initiatives referred to our 'doing it' as 'magic'. I like to think that through Lean in HE, we are all doing 'practical magic'.

Bill McHendry, National Manager, Service Improvement Team, Australian Catholic University

The detailed Business Case Template is available for download here

November 6 - 8, 2019

Questions or Feedback? Email: LeanHE2019@umich.edu