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Legal services for the higher education sector

As public funding decreases, higher education institutions (HEIs) must increasingly operate as businesses, while at the same time respecting academic freedom and treating students fairly. Eversheds Sutherland’s experience and reach allows us to support you with any legal issue that arises, from student complaints and complex HR matters to international collaboration arrangements.

Legal services for the higher education sector

We can also help you to manage risk effectively by delivering training and hosting thought-leadership events. Our aim is to ensure that senior leaders fully understand the legal frameworks within which HEIs operate and to inform sound decision-making. You will be looked after by a dedicated client service team with deep sector knowledge, who will invest time in getting to know your institution and how it works.

Key areas of advice include:

  • establishing overseas operations
  • group structures and joint ventures
  • bond issues
  • academy sponsorship
  • VAT and tax issues
  • reputationally sensitive disputes and litigation
  • defamation and reputation management
  • judicial review challenges
  • fraud and other financial disputes
  • charity law, governance and restructuring of charter and statutes
  • protection and exploitation of intellectual property
  • procurement/outsourcing
  • commercial contracts
  • shared-use agreements
  • hiring agreements
  • leases
  • student contracts
  • student mental health and fitness to practice
  • regulatory compliance including health and safety, data protection/freedom of information, public sector equality duties and immigration
  • faculty reorganization and industrial relations
  • professional review and effective performance management
  • public sector pensions and automatic enrolment
  • discrimination legislation and diversity
  • employment tribunals representation

Eversheds Sutherland’s lawyers are trusted to provide cutting-edge commercial advice on the most complex and sensitive matters, both nationally and internationally. Our team members have worked with HEIs for many years and fully understand the governance, funding, regulatory and reputational issues they face.

In addition to HEIs, we work with prominent sector organizations and are regularly asked to speak at conferences and events. These organizations include the Universities & Colleges Employers Association, Universities UK, Universities Human Resources, the Association for Student Residential Accommodation, the Association of Heads of University Administration, the Association of Managers in Higher Education and the Academic Registrars Council.


““Eversheds Sutherland has very impressive resources and depth, and their advice has been first-class. They are always very prompt and their advice is succinct and to the point"

"Their higher education knowledge is excellent – they provide well-written briefings and they have the ability to access additional experience."


Contact our higher education team

If you would like any further information or need advice related to higher education, please contact our legal team.


Contact us

Diane Gilhooley, Partner

  • Global Head of Employment, Labor and Pensions, and Global Co-Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
  • +44 161 831 8151
  • E-mail Diane Gilhooley

Glynne Stanfield, Partner

  • Head of UK Governance and External Relations practice and International Education practice
  • +44 207 919 0977
  • E-mail Glynne Stanfield
Education training events
Education training events
Instep - Education law magazine
Education briefings and articles