Expert profile - Matt James, Client Director - Head of Education, Aon 

Tuesday 9 August 2022

What is your role and where do you work?  

My role is Client Director for Education and I work within the Public Sector Team at Aon. The job is very dynamic, and I provide support across Aon’s Public Sector Team for all education matters, as well as developing the education practice in terms of our strategy, innovation and presence in the sector. Typically, I work from home but part of my role, and the part that I enjoy most, is spending time with our education clients. When I’m not working from home or meeting with clients, I meet with the market and partners. 

What is your expertise, specialism or main area of interest?  

My main area of expertise and specialism right now is the higher education sector. Educating is a difficult vocation at any level, however looking after the welfare of mostly young adults, alongside delivering a higher level of study is challenging. Students paying significant tuition fees have shifted their attention to a return on that investment and this puts pressure on the sector to be more accountable and subject to further regulation. I’ve followed closely how the sector responds to complaints and the changes in insurance cover, and requirements for universities is an area of interest right now. 

Outside of work I’m a governor at my children’s primary school. It’s a real eye-opening experience and one I would thoroughly recommend to anyone. Not only are you giving back your time and experience, but it’s also allowed me behind closed doors access to the challenges and opportunities our schools must overcome. 

Is there a particular aspect of your work you are interested in or passionate about?  

For a long time I have felt very fortunate to have experienced all forms of education the UK. I attended very good local authority-maintained schools, went to a successful and A-level focused further education college, and obtained my degree from Cardiff University, a Russell Group member.  

Throughout my education experience I paid very little towards the overall cost of receiving that education, owing mostly to attending university at a time when tuition fees were a lot lower. I truly believe that education and lifelong learning should be available to all in our communities and at a level that is affordable and fair to the student and the educator.  

People often don’t realise the costs to our education institutions. If as a society we want more skilled and knowledgeable communities, the debate over who pays for that education is one I will continue to be interested in and passionate about. 

What are you working on currently?  

I’m trying to conclude a very busy and difficult renewal season for our education clients. Conflict in Ukraine, the hardening property market, and an ever-increasing set of regulations for insurers, means there have been challenging renewal discussions. In some cases that includes wording changes that we have advised our clients on this year. 

What topics and trends are emerging?  

Student welfare is a high profile trend and a particularly worrying one at that. Safeguarding is something all educators are familiar with. Those in higher education look after the welfare of those who may be away from home for the first time, and who may have anxiety about their course, student debt, the student experience and peer relationships, which can be very challenging. Recent judgments in this area have shown that it is not always easy or obvious to do the right thing. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix or template for managing this human risk. 

Other than this, the hard insurance market continues, so understanding the routes to market and how to obtain value for money with insurance programmes is a hot topic. 

The real positive following COVID-19 is that student numbers have not significantly dropped. If anything, there are more people wanting a change in career or to learn new skills, which has led to more opportunities for our colleges and universities. This is really heartening to see. 

Discover the many benefits of ALARM membership

Find Out More

Stay up to date

If you have a specific query, why not contact a member of our office team directly? We will be pleased to assist you - whatever your question.


Our Platinum Sponsors