Mrs Claire Deacon

Mrs Claire Deacon

Head of Partnerships

Partnership Operations - Partnerships (Academic Registry)



Head of Partnerships Operations for Academic Partnerships.  

Role Summary:

Managing the delivery and development of the Partnerships Operations service, that is comprehensive, customer focused, integrated, cost effective and progressive, influencing the strategic direction of Academic Partnerships and the wider University agenda.

Ensuring staff are clear on their part in delivering results and are set up for success, and understand that through their activities each individual contributes to a positive student experience, supporting students throughout their journey, from enquiry to alumni, providing a culture that engages students as genuine partners WITH Plymouth University.

Flexible and adaptable in a changing environment, the role holder may be assigned to other areas of the University to meet the needs of the service, this will in turn provide developmental opportunities in which to broaden their experience.

Key Accountabilities:

• Leads and manages the delivery and continuous development of an effective and flexible Partnerships Operations service, in a way that reflects the University’s values-based behaviours for leaders, informing and implementing appropriate strategic initiatives to ensure the efficient operation of Academic Partnerships

• Leads and directs the operational workflow of a multi-disciplinary Partnership Operations team ensuring agreed targets and standards are consistently met

• Develops, motivates and coaches the team to deliver their best providing feedback on performance to enable continuous development in line with the University’s Performance Development Framework

• Deals appropriately with informal and formal performance concerns in line with the University’s policies for managing performance

• Follows appropriate financial and regulatory policies and procedures ensuring necessary regulations and standards are adhered to, driving forward value for money initiatives

• Leads and influences appropriate University wide projects outside of immediate work area

• Develop and implement processes, procedures and policies, that meet strategic business needs, maintain legal compliance, and deliver on the commitment to continuous improvement and ensure these are complied with by all partners both UK & International, and where they are not escalating this to the Strategic Management team of Academic Partnerships.

• Engage in research, projects and studies influencing the strategic development of partnerships both UK & International within Academic Partnerships

• Research, interpret and analyse complex data relating to UK & International Partnerships, using a variety of systems, advise on and implement appropriate actions to provide timely resolution ensuring adherence to quality monitoring processes

• Facilitate meetings, visits, conferences and committees, through preparation of Academic Partnerships reports and presentations, develop and implement initiatives to address discussions and decisions, to successfully develop the service

• Research, investigate, interpret and create accurate information sources, creating appropriate methods of communication to raise awareness and ensure the effective dissemination of Academic Partnerships knowledge and understanding

• Creating relationships with customers, partners and stakeholders, provide UK & International Partnership information, advice and guidance, resolving complex issues through creative and unique solutions that support the strategic needs of the business

• Proactively networking with customers, to engender the effective sharing of knowledge, developing best practice, implementing initiatives that drive forward business improvements

• Decisions impacting on cross-functional activities, creating guidance and training on UK & International Partnership activities, associated policies and procedures, to enable the successful delivery and development of the service

• Manage priorities for Academic Partnership operational activities and associated cross functional projects, allocating resources and delegating tasks to support the strategic needs of the service

• Deliver excellent customer service in all aspects of role

• Ensure all activities are undertaken are in compliance with University and Faculty/Departmental Health & Safety requirements and regulations

• Act in a way that demonstrates the University’s commitment to Equality and Diversity for staff, students and partners

• Carry out appropriate communication and information sharing.


Certificate in Management

Diploma in Management

MSc in Management

Having started my career as a Legal Secretary (1989 – 1993), I then moved from the private to public sector, working at the Plymouth College of Further Education (now City College Plymouth), supporting the academics in the department for Management & Business, and managing a contract delivering training to the Department for Social Security.

In February 1998, I joined the University of Plymouth (Business School) to manage an European Social Fund (ESF) Adapt project supporting small businesses (SMEs), which had partner Universities in Paris and Vicenza, Italy.  Following on from that project, I have managed a number of initiatives funded by ESF, DfEE, DfES and HEFCE.

In 2002 I was appointed Centres of Expertise Project Manager for University of Plymouth Enterprise, where I managed a number of projects funded through ESF, ERDF, DfEE, DfES, HEFCE, HERDA, RDA, working with SMEs and HEIs in the South West region.   In addition to project management, the role as Regional Projects Manager in Research & Innovation, subsequently involved HEFCE monitoring & reporting, Government Office Audits, and management of the Divisional budget, and acting as a member of the Management Executive group.

During this time, I completed the Certificate in Management and Diploma in Management studying with Plymouth Business School, and then continued by studies with Sheffield Hallam University by obtaining a MSc in Management in 2002. 

In July 2006, I was appointed Head of Faculty Administration, for the University of Plymouth Colleges Faculty. UPC Faculty had 18 partner colleges in the region from Cornwall to Bristol, including the Channel Islands. The faculty grew with circa 10,000 students studying on over HE level 300 programmes approved by Plymouth University.

Following phase 1 of the 2015 restructure, UPC Faculty merged with the International Office, and the University's Quality Office. Together these areas formed Academic Partnerships which became operational in August 2012. My role as Head of Partnerships Operations is now more diverse and grown in line with the the growth and development of AP. 

Academic Partnerships (AP) govern or manage the partnership activity for the University working closely with faculties where some partnerships sit due to the specific subject area. AP therefore now have both national and international partnerships in addition to the regional partner colleges; the 30 partners (with over 400 programmes to choose from) who deliver HE include FE colleges, Academies, and private colleges with over 15,000 students across the UK and worldwide.



Other Publications

The Regional Projects team were successful in securing an Enterprise Fellowship Award, funded through the Higher Education Innovation Fund, and have written ‘Get it Right – A Practical Guide to Managing Externally Funded Projects’.