2021-04/caitroina-mccusker

With over 20 years’ experience as a business transformation consultant, Cat is at the forefront of PwC’s transformation projects within government and health industries working with major organisations across education, local government, central government, and the police. 

Working at a global and local level she helps HEIs to reimagine their student and staff experience. From aligning costs, to running and delivering large scale technology transformation programmes, Cat works with HEIs to identify and implement the right technology, people strategy and experience.

In the last year Cat has been supporting universities across the UK to navigate the challenges of the pandemic - from prioritising mental health and wellbeing services for staff and students, to supporting them in reimagining a new online student experience, their people agenda and realigning costs to deal with huge changes to revenue and cash flow. 

One university providing additional mental health support to students and staff as a result of the effects of the pandemic is Aston University. The university is working with PwC to deliver mental health training to staff and students to help normalise the access to mental health support among peer groups.

Alec Cameron, vice-chancellor of Aston University, said:

“We place a great deal of importance on the mental health and wellbeing of our students and staff at Aston. This past year in particular has been an exceptionally challenging time, but our Welfare Team has been working incredibly hard to meet the needs of our students.  Working with PwC has enabled us to extend our offering, giving our academic and professional staff skills to support our students and each other in this increasingly significant aspect of university life.”

Cat McCusker, education leader at PwC, said:

“Increasing concerns are quite rightly being raised around the mental wellbeing of students enrolled in Higher Education as a result of the pandemic. We have seen the focus by universities on the mental wellbeing of students growing for a number of years, however social isolation and reduced access to mental health support during the pandemic has exacerbated the issues facing students.

“Universities have had to react quickly and adapt the support mechanisms on offer to ensure these can be accessed by students on and off campus. PwC has been delivering mental health group training and e-learn sessions to our staff based across the UK. As a firm we recognise the importance of mental health advocacy, so we are building on our long term association with The Samaritans to produce a team activity for Aston University to roll-out with their staff and students.”

Quentin Cole, government & health industries leader at PwC, said:

“I am delighted to welcome Cat to the government and health industries leadership team as our education leader. As we move forward from the pandemic, education will play a key role in the economic recovery of the UK as well as enabling the innovation and skills that will allow us to build back better for future generations. Cat brings a wealth of experience to support clients navigating the challenges the pandemic has brought to education, and at a time of rapid transformation for the sector.” 

Cat McCusker, education leader at PwC, added:

“The opportunities and challenges for HEIs are huge and the sector is at a tipping point. I am excited to be taking on the role as Education Leader at such a crucial time.  The return to education over the coming months will bring challenges for education providers, including the catch-up on missed education and addressing the inequalities the pandemic has exacerbated, such as digital poverty.  Tackling these will require a focus from the sector, business and government to minimise the impact of the pandemic on young people’s mental health and their future career prospects.

“I am pleased to be bringing new thinking to the higher education sector as organisations look to navigate the disruption that COVID-19 has brought and embrace new ways of working.”