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  • Trevor bolton

Promoting Growth and Development through Partnership

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

Trevor Bolton Associates Ltd works with clients to help them achieve their growth ambitions. This article sets out some of the detail of our growth model and how we work with our clients.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more.

Most universities work within an environment of financial constraint which is often ambition limiting. However, if a university wishes to increase (international) activity and income it needs an imaginative new approach. A common strategic option is these circumstances is to work through partnerships in most, if not all, developments. So, the strategy becomes a focus on partnerships. Partnerships can be developed for delivery, progression or direct recruitment (often with agents). The partnership strategy necessitates effective partnership management through a high-level framework first aimed to keep the focus on the strategic goals but equally to manage risk (academic, financial and institutional).

For a university to be a serious player at national level and indeed international level, is a serious challenge for a relatively new and/or relatively small institution. Infra-structure development, research development and wider industrial and societal engagement are best achieved from a large income base, where money to invest, grow and to take risks are all available. The ability to attract quality researchers is often dependent on there being an established research team supported by outstanding facilities within a challenging environment and within which key players can engage. Enhancing reputation is relatively easy for the financially advantaged, less easy for the newer player and the smaller institution.

Developing the Framework

Trevor Bolton Associates Ltd can help universities develop frameworks of activities to support aspirations to grow turnover from a current (modest) size to one that embeds opportunities for sustainability, reputation enhancement, growth of national and international profile, income and potentially research too. It is a given of our model that absolute academic and commercial control remains with the university to meet expectations of stakeholders and regulators.

In particular, we can support the following activities:

  • Supporting a university to rapidly increase its number of international students studying on-site.

  • To work with the university to develop a select group of progression partners – that is, feeder institutions in the UK and overseas from which students will progress to study at university for one of more year of their studies (for UG) and part of an award e.g. 60 credits (for PG).

  • To develop a suite of high-quality franchise and validation partners located in the UK and overseas which will bring a range of benefits to a University, including remunerative benefits.

  • To bring forward other possible partners e.g. investment partners who may seek to develop appropriate commercial relationships with a university.

We can call upon both our wide-ranging networks and experience to quickly and progressively identify and then develop suitable partners for universities. Our partnership approach assumes ‘win-win’ for both parties to the agreement. Given we can bring exclusive focus to this activity, we feel we can develop this activity more quickly than can many universities working alone.


Implementation of all partnerships starts with careful evaluation in which 4 questions will always need to be considered in a feasibility exercise. This will initially be conducted by Trevor Bolton Associates Ltd and then further considered and decided upon within the University:

a. What is the Academic Model?

What is it that we are seeking to do and within what parameters? The model needs to be agreed, understood and enacted – it is this model that guides our activities, both what we will do and what we won’t.

b. What is the Business Model?

What is the revenue model, when is it realised? What are the costs associated with the model and is it acceptable to all?

c. What risks are present and how can the risks be managed?

Careful calibration of risks is key to successful partnership working. Being clear-eyed and open to not only the opportunities but also the potential challenges and how they might be managed and/or ameliorated is key.

d. How would any partnership proposal contribute to the wider mission of the university?

As stated earlier, developing partnership work simply as a means to generate income is almost always wrong and certainly a lost opportunity. Partnership work works best when it feeds into the wider life and mission of the university.


The model we present is aimed to support universities grow, and in a way that contributes not only to the bottom line, but also to the wider ambitions of the university and its mission. The model can be tailored to the particular needs of an institution or faculty.

If you would like to discuss how we might be able to help your organisation, please get in touch.


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