Leading Academic Development in Dynamic Higher Education International Settings


  • Sue Bolt University of Liverpool




academic development, inspirational leadership, distributed leadership, entrepreneurial leadership, strategic leadership, transformational leadership, identity, influence, power.


Within the super complex higher education environment academic development inhabits a dynamic domain that varies from institution to institution. Leading academic development requires the ability to effectively lead change, people, programmes, and yourself. This paper provides a critically reflective narrative of my experiences leading academic development across a lifespan in Australia and the UK. The narrative of my leadership development is shaped by my reflection on the University of Liverpool’s Leadership Commitment Framework and the UK Professional Standards Framework for Teaching and Supporting Learning in Higher Education and integrated throughout three case studies. The first case study, set in a large Faculty in an Australian university, explores inspirational, distributed, and entrepreneurial leadership; academic development initiatives are relatively informal in this case. The second case study, set in a large Australian university at the institutional level explores strategic leadership of processes and people; academic development initiatives are more formalised through university governance processes in this case. The third case, set in a Russell Group university in the UK, explores transformational leadership relevant to leading academic development teams and programmes in a highly regulated environment. Across the three cases issues of identity, influence, and power in relation to leading academic development in dynamic environments are explored and insights highlighted to provide advice and guidance to aspiring leaders of academic development and leaders of learning and teaching in higher education.

Author Biography

Sue Bolt, University of Liverpool

Dr Susan Bolt (PFHEA) is Head of Academic Development at the University of Liverpool in the UK, where she leads a team that was recognised as finalists in the 2021 Global Academic Development Good Practice Awards for their integrated approach to developing teaching and scholarship. Dr Bolt is the Director of Studies for the Liverpool Online Postgraduate Certificate Academic Practice which is accredited by Advance HE and delivered globally. Dr Bolt’s passion for leading academic development in HE is underpinned by her prior work experiences and doctoral study in which she investigated professional development in dynamic environments. Prior to moving to the UK at the end of 2016, Dr Bolt worked at Edith Cowan University and Curtin University in Western Australia. Prior to working in HE, Dr Bolt held a senior role in the Western Australian Department of Education, and had extensive experience as a curriculum consultant and educator.



26-12-2023 — Updated on 20-01-2024


How to Cite

Bolt, S. (2024). Leading Academic Development in Dynamic Higher Education International Settings. International Journal for Leadership in Learning, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.29173/ijll30 (Original work published December 26, 2023)