He will take on the new role of director of comms and external relations in October, following the retirement of Universities UK’s current director of comms Nigel Semmens.
Jarvis joins the organisation having spent just a few months at Communications Management, though he will continue to chair the agency's newly established Education Communications External Advisory Board.
Universities UK represents 133 institutions, including a number of colleges, and acts as a voice for the sector on major issues. Its PR has been led by Semmens since 2009, when he joined from The National Gallery.
Jeremy Holmes, COO at Universities UK, said: 'The work carried out by our universities is far-reaching and we have a compelling story to tell nationally and internationally. Alistair brings a wealth of experience in both communications and the higher education sector, and we look forward to working with him.'
Jarvis' responsibilities will include political affairs, partnership building, campaigns, events, media relations and digital comms.
Justin Shaw, MD of Communications Management, said: ‘I personally am obviously disappointed to lose Alistair to his new role at Universities UK, but we can understand his attraction to this post as one of the top higher education communications positions.
‘Alistair is a rare talent in terms of his exceptional understanding of higher education and the policy backdrop, and in terms of his ability to devise appropriate strategies and to win people at the highest levels over quickly and effectively to agree, support and deliver those strategies.
‘Such talent is hard to find – and so, in Alistair, Universities UK is getting someone who can genuinely strengthen its communications and engagement at a time of great sector challenge.’
Before his brief spell at Communications Management, Jarvis headed comms at the University of Birmingham.
He had also led PR and public affairs for the 1994 Group of 11 research-focused universities.
Earlier this week, Universities UK hired Forster Communications to promote Universities Week 2014.