We help Higher Education Providers understand, manage, govern, analyse and value their data in support of the most important goals of the university


Alex has worked with over a hundred organisations including 54 universities.  He designed and developed the HEDIIP data capability framework, led the team to create the HESA in-year collection model, designed the sector level governance for reporting and co-developed the UCISA Higher Education capability model. Alex also founded and chairs the UK Higher Education Data Governance network.

Alex has extensive experience in creating best practice data capability and literacy. Through the services summarised on this page, we will explain our work with each of our university customers to create pragmatic and sustainable solutions.  Alex believe that ‘one size fits none’ so takes a blended approach between best practice and individual university objectives.

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Is The Leigh Partnership just you? Yes and no. The limited company is run by my wife and I. I ‘m responsible for all the consulting, writing and speaking work. As this gives me exactly zero scale, and I’m lucky enough to be busy, I work with a select group of practitioners with similar or complementary skills.

Do you just do data stuff? Again yes and no. Data is my thing nowadays, but my history is consulting in Enterprise Architecture (EA) for Deloitte, then running the EA practice there. I’ve set up and run a number of EA groups inside and outside of HE. This gives me broad and pragmatic experience across the business, application, infrastructure and – to a lesser extent – security domains.

What’s this about a new training course? After being asked to do so for over a year, I’ve developed a public ‘Data Strategy development and implementation’ course based on the eight bespoke engagements with UK universities.  These will now run quarterly.

Do you only work with Higher Education Providers? Almost exclusively. This is where my deep subject matter expertise is and where I believe I add most value.  I do also work for a number of customers in the charity sector.

Can you offer your services remotely? Absolutely. I’ve been very successful delivering all our services remotely since March 2020. This includes a number of Data Strategy engagements where I’ve never physically met the customers! We’ve lots of tools and techniques we’d be happy to share.

Alex worked with me when we developed the Data Capability toolkit and training events as a part of the HEDIIP programme. In addition to his extensive technical skills Alex brought a clarity of thought and vision and an ability to engage and enthuse audiences in all settings.

Andy Youell, Director of the Higher Education Data & Information Improvement Programme (HEDIIP), 2013-2016

The input from Alex has helped move our data management strategy from an idea to a reality, with people and systems dedicated to it. Alex has a very practical approach which cuts through the jargon and mystery and helps people to see what they can do to make their data environment better, and why this matters.

Olivia Kew-Fickus, Director of Strategic Planning, University of Birmingham

Alex is one of the most professional and positive people that I have ever worked with. He is a good intuitive leader who inspires confidence in his team and colleagues.

Liz Bell, Policy and Programme Director

Alex has been instrumental in designing and implementing our data governance framework. He made the case for and trained our data governance manager, and guided us on how to make the framework sustainable. This framework underpins how we will manage and exploit data at the university, and – specifically – support our In Year Reporting/Data Futures project.


The UCISA Enterprise Architecture Community of Practice set about the task of creating a generic capability model for the UK HE sector (http://www.ucisa.ac.uk/blog/). Alex, acting as a consultant, was a key element in this process bringing both his vast knowledge of higher education and his understanding of EA best practice.

Ian Anderson, Enterprise Architect at Coventry University

Alex worked with us on developing a data strategy and data governance operating model. By necessity our communications and workshops were remote and “virtual, but Alex’s attention to detail, ability to explain complex concepts simply, and his sheer experience and depth of knowledge of data and governance were invaluable in helping us make progress and plan our implementation. Alex understands how HE works, and can suggest how to overcome roadblocks, and avoid the pitfalls of particular approaches. His experience makes him a respected voice of authority. He is generous with his time and knowledge – and he is fun to work with.

Martin Howells, Director of Data and Insight (interim) at UCL

I’ve worked with Alex since his HEDIIP and HESA days and knew he has a deep understanding of the HE Information Landscape, so he was my go-to consultant when the Teesside University Data Futures project was about to kick off. Alex ran a three day workshop that set us on our way to a Data Governance framework and provided practical recommendations for our continued management of the DF project. I would recommend Alex to any HE provider looking for insightful, but independent support on their data journey

Marian Hilditch, Head of Data Quality, Teesside University

We worked with Alex to develop a Data Governance Framework which helped us outline how we plan on implementing, managing and sustaining our institutional Data Governance capability. Alex has in-depth experience and knowledge of the UK HE sector which was extremely beneficial in applying best practice approaches that are tailored to our institutional needs.

He provides proactive and pragmatic advice which was invaluable and enabled us to develop the key components of our framework e.g. business case, implementation plan and operating model. It’s been great working with Alex and would highly recommend him to anyone looking to improve their institutional wide approach to data

Toni Ross, Head of Data Governance, University of Glasgow

Alex is a consummate professional who puts a truly admirable amount time, effort and commitment into his projects and we have always been incredibly happy with the work he has done for us. He is able to explain complex data strategy and capability concepts to colleagues at all levels and use relatable examples. He has the amazing skill of getting people to buy into a common vision. I frequently recommend him to colleagues both inside and outside my organisation as an excellent consultant and an authority on all things HE data.

Data Professional, Sector Agency

Alex’s knowledge and experience of data governance (and many other data things!) were really helpful in enabling us to start developing the data capability of the university. His practical approach, belief in the benefits and seemingly limitless energy make Alex a pleasure to work with and a real support in getting things moving.

Rebecca Ward, Head of Data Strategy and Governance, The Open University

Alex worked with us through the lockdown period to help us develop a data strategy and implementation plan. He managed the remote workshops brilliantly and despite the constraints of not being in the same room together, a team from across the organisation, successfully co-developed a bespoke strategy and plan which will be a cornerstone for our future development. Alex’s deep knowledge and expertise in data strategy and management and his excellent communication skills made the process both interesting and hugely productive.

Gilane Tawadros, Chief Executive Officer at DACS

Alex has fantastic consulting skills, passion for and expertise in Data Governance, coupled with an extensive knowledge of the HE sector. Definitely the go to person if you want Data Governance successfully implemented at your university.

Nicola Askham, Data Governance Coach

Across a number of projects, Alex has been influential in helping Trinity Laban to improve our use of data and to embed data governance at the Conservatoire. He has a thorough understanding of the higher education sector and is a responsive and insightful colleague, using his considerable expertise to identify and implement solutions that work for us.

Charlotte Cooper, Head of Planning, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance

Alex’s advice, guidance, and mentoring was invaluable in helping to formulate and get our data governance programme off the ground with clear objectives and materials to support development.

The development of our data governance programme and framework wouldn’t have been possible in necessary timeframe without Alex. His expertise and materials significantly sped up the process from conception and objective setting to senior engagement and formulation of focused committees for furthering our data goals.

Adam Shooter, Data Governance Manager, Nottingham University

At Royal Holloway, we found the HEDIIP toolkit was a particularly helpful set of activities for our recently formed governance committee to use to focus on the real benefits of improving data management and governance. In particular, it was really helpful to have Alex Leigh come and help us work through some of the steps in the toolkit. His knowledge of data governance, his enthusiasm for the benefits it has and his experience of the HE sector mean that he is a great asset to any data governance project.

Alison Wallis, Royal Holloway

Durham University chose to employ the Leigh Partnership based on an evidential track record of success within the UK Higher Educational sector. Through his consultative role in our engagement, Alex met all expectations and impressed us with his aptitude and speed in reaching a holistic understanding of our position. He showed the ability to understand the IT function and secure the confidence of key senior academic stakeholders. The report produced as an output of the engagement was wholly appropriate and was used as the basis for a strong business case that secured significant capital investment.

Alex is highly recommended.

Dr Cris Bloomfield, Interim Director of Operations, Durham University

For a number of years we have worked with Alex developing our approach to HEDIIP. Alex was able to help us demonstrate the requirement for good data governance, making it accessible and relevant to senior stakeholders. We have continued to work together to develop and assure our data programmes including a detailed review of our Data Futures plan and approach. Alex is approachable, pragmatic and experienced in all areas of the management of data. Alex has an excellent understanding of how data is used in the HE sector and the opportunities good data management/governance can bring to Institutions.

Liv Roberts, Head of Student Systems, Queens University Belfast

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