28 April 2023

Is the Bursar the Most Transformational Role in Education?

By: Hayley Mintern

The role of bursar has always been synonymous with being busy. But whilst the bursar’s role may have always been a full one, the modern bursar’s job description has arguably seen the most transformation of any other in school, with many opting for new titles such as Chief Operating Officer, Director of Finances and Resources or Managing Director.

Some bursars – due to the nature of the size of the school – are responsible for wearing many hats. Others benefit from dedicated support teams, something which we are seeing become a key to the overall management of a school. Historically, the role of the bursar was primarily focused on managing the financial affairs of the school.  Bursars were responsible for handling payments, managing budgets, and keeping financial records but in today’s world the role larger and more varied.

Over the years, the role of a bursar has undergone significant transformations, driven by changes in technology, management practices, and the increasing complexity of financial operations. Bursars are responsible for managing the financial affairs of schools, including budgeting, accounting, and financial reporting and continue to play a critical role in overall management of the school.

One of the key drivers of the transformation has been the increasing use of technology and the increasing complexity of the school operations. Schools are faced with a wide range of challenges, including rising costs, changing regulations, and increased competition. Bursars must be able to navigate these challenges and provide strategic leadership to their schools. This requires a deep understanding of operational management principle and the ability to develop and implement effective leadership strategies.

In addition to their traditional financial management responsibilities, bursars are also expected to be leaders and collaborators within their institutions and in some case equal to the head. They often work closely with other departments, such as admissions, marketing, IT, estates and academic affairs, to ensure that decisions are aligned with the school’s goals and objectives. This requires sound communication skills and the ability to build strong working relationships with colleagues across the school.

Today’s bursars must have a wide skill set, a deep understanding of management principles, and be able to provide strategic financial leadership to their institutions. They must also be effective collaborators and communicators, able to work closely with colleagues across the institution to ensure that financial decisions are aligned with institutional goals and objectives.

As schools and groups continue to evolve and face new challenges, the role of the bursar will also continue to evolve, and those professionals will need to adapt to meet these challenges. Schools need to embrace different talent and look beyond the traditional candidate pools, to those that have operated at a senior level within industry, those operating as business leaders in the higher education sector and those operating as trust leaders in the state sector. By being open to wider talent pools, Schools will ensure they can bring further innovation and evolution to the sector.


Hayley has supported the education sector for the last ten years, providing executive search and interim and consultancy solutions to Independent Schools, Academy Trusts, FE Colleges, and Universities. Her speciality is understanding the education sector and connecting talent that is passionate about providing high quality inclusive education.

If you are interested in or considering a role in an independent school, you can contact Hayley via LinkedIn or email at hayley.mintern@andersonquigley.com.