AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2021

Collaborating for success

Virtual conference
29 to 31 March 2021

What to expect from AUA 2021

Insight from our sector’s leading voices

Each year, the AUA Annual Conference attracts experienced and talented practitioners and thought leaders to curate a varied programme that asks and considers the difficult questions, provokes lively debate and shares and celebrates best practice in the Sector.

For higher education professional services, it is an unrivalled development opportunity, and a chance to seek real time solutions to the challenges you face.

You’ll be empowered with inspiration, fresh ideas and practical tools to apply in your own work the very next day.

Networking opportunities

Network with 650+ like-minded peers from across the UK and the rest of the world –we may have moved the conference online, but you will still have the opportunity to connect with fellow delegates through our conference platform. Whether you’re developing current relationships, speaking to new contacts or reigniting old connections, you can use the platform and app to start conversations, discuss challenges and share ideas.

Online format

Being online, things will be a little different. For those that have been before you’ll recognise, the plenaries, keynotes and breakout sessions. This year there is the added bonus of being able to watch sessions again and engage with the full programme up to 60 days after the conference.

Celebration and fun

The Conference is our annual celebration of the contribution of professional services in HE, and this year more than ever, there is a lot to recognise and celebrate. It is your opportunity to spend three days sharing and learning with those who enjoy working in the same diverse and vibrant sector as you do.

Having run our first online Autumn Conference in November 2020, here is what some of the delegates thought of the online format and content offered:

Our programme

As always, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our members experience a varied and extensive programme with something for everyone. Some highlights from this year’s programme are included below, but for all the details, including the full conference schedule, you can click through below.

Our opening plenary speaker | kindly sponsored by Dixon Walter

Professor Shearer West CBE

President and Vice-Chancellor

University of Nottingham

About Shearer

Shearer has held a number of significant leadership roles in universities and higher education, including Head of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Birmingham, Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford University and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield. She also spent four years as Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council where she chaired the Research Directors Group for Research Councils UK. In 2021, Vice-Chancellor Professor Shearer West has been awarded a CBE for services to education.

The ‘Two Cultures’ of Academia and Professional Services

C.P. Snow’s influential Rede lecture of 1959, ‘The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution’ argued that the cultural divisions between humanities and science were preventing universities from effectively tackling the world’s problems. In this talk, I borrow from Snow’s precept but want to use his framework to describe what I see as the cultural divisions that have developed between academic and professional services staff. I would like to look at the history of why these divisions have occurred, the impact they have had on university success and effectiveness, and attempts to overcome the problems they have caused.

Our keynote speakers

Rachel Sandison

Vice-Principal, External Relations
University of Glasgow

There is no doubt that 2020 has brought the sector and our communities untold challenges, creating an environment that has necessitated changes in approach and focus at both a local and global level. However, these Covid times have also provided the opportunity for our organisations to reaffirm our core mission and values, as well as the burning platform to innovate.

Partnership has never been more important, or more required within the sector, as universities seek to engage with stakeholders to support institutional aims and ambitions against a backdrop of constant change and evolving business need.

This session will showcase the impact of the University of Glasgow’s strategic plan ‘Inspiring People, Changing the World 2015-2020’ and the successful initiatives that have delivered enhanced collaboration and engagement at both a civic and global level with partners that include local and national government, international universities, city-wide audiences, and our own community of students, staff and alumni.

Opportunities for working together will undoubtedly continue to increase within the sector – why does this matter and how can we all benefit?

About Rachel
Rachel Sandison is Vice Principal, External Relations at the University of Glasgow. Rachel’s responsibilities include strategic leadership for domestic and international student recruitment; marketing, brand and reputation; undergraduate and postgraduate admissions; international affairs and partnership development; fundraising & alumni relations; and widening participation.

Rachel is a chartered marketer and a CASE Global Trustee and Chairs the annual CASE Marketing Institute. She is a member of the Universities Marketing Forum, Universities Scotland International Committee and sits on a number of sector advisory boards. She is the University of Glasgow’s senior leader for the Universitas 21 network and The Guild of European Research Intensive Universities.

Anne-Marie Canning MBE

CEO, The Brilliant Club

Social mobility is always high on the political agenda in some shape or form. Universities have the power to be agents of social mobility and this session builds the case for taking serious and strategic steps to use that power to create a better world around us. My keynote will offer an overview of key social mobility policies, research and developments in the world of education. We will explore innovative approaches that are creating better life chances for young people – through our institutions, partnerships and places. Participants will come away challenged, informed and inspired to take action on the social justice issues that we face in the UK today.

About Anne-Marie
Anne-Marie Canning MBE is the Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at King’s College London. In this role she provides leadership and strategic direction for full lifecycle widening participation across the institution. In 2018 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to higher education.

Anne-Marie is also the independent chair of the Department for Education led Bradford Opportunity Area. She is a member of the Universities UK Ministerial Social Mobility Advisory Group and has served as the elected Chair of the Russell Group Widening Participation Association.

Anne-Marie has previously worked at University College Oxford and holds a University of Oxford Teaching Award. She studied at the University of York and served a sabbatical term as the president of the students’ union. Anne-Marie is a trustee of the Bridge Group, a policy association researching and promoting socio-economic diversity and equality.

Larissa Kennedy

National President, National Union of Students

NUS is campaigning for an education system that is fully funded, lifelong, and accessible. The pandemic has surfaced many inequalities in our education. In this keynote speech, Larissa will reflect on the challenges facing higher education and the need for a comprehensive reform of the education system following the disruption of Covid-19. She will discuss the specific priorities for students, and how institutions, students’ unions and students can work together in partnership to address these.

About Larissa
Larissa Kennedy is the NUS National President. Larissa was formerly Education Officer and Deputy President at Warwick Students’ Union, and has worked as Advocacy and Campaigns Officer and Plan International, a global gender equality charity. In a volunteer capacity, Larissa is the UK’s representative to the Global Secretariat at Youth for Change, was formerly a member of the British Youth Council’s trustee board, and U.K. Youth Delegate to the Council of Europe Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

Rosie Tressler OBE

CEO, Student Minds

A keynote from Rosie Tressler OBE to share what Student Minds has been learning throughout the pandemic, from the development of online support and the Student Space programme to sustaining long term change through the University Mental Health Charter. 

About Rosie
Rosie is the CEO of Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. Student Minds develops innovative approaches to support healthy university communities, collaborates on research, and empowers students, university professionals and connected communities to create change. Rosie has been working on the issue of student wellbeing for several years. She became the charity’s Chief Executive Officer in 2015, following a number of different roles at Student Minds managing volunteering, campaigns and university relationships, and she has been undertaking a Churchill Fellowship to explore preventative approaches to student mental health in Canada and Australia.  

Our panel debate | kindly sponsored by Evasys

University regulation – fit for all purposes?

“This house believes that the current regulatory regime has been shown to be totally unfit for purpose in a time of crisis”

Panel Chair

Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar, University of Nottingham

Dr Paul Greatrix is Registrar at the University of Nottingham, a post he was appointed to in January 2007.

As Registrar he is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University. As well as being Secretary to the statutory bodies of the University and a member of Executive Board, the Registrar manages the provision of a broad range of professional services for prospective students, current students and staff.

Prior to joining the University of Nottingham he worked at the University of Warwick where he held six different posts before eventually being appointed Deputy Registrar. Before joining Warwick in 1998 he was at the University of East Anglia for six years, where he worked on quality matters, and Staffordshire University.

Paul read English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and holds a PhD from the School of Education at the University of East Anglia.

For the motion

Smita Jamdar, Relationship Partner, Shakespeare Martineau

Smita is Relationship Partner for Shakespeare Martineau’s education clients and advises on strategic, regulatory, constitutional, governance and student matters. Her approach is best summed up by Chambers & Partners: “She is very knowledgeable about the sector, very well informed about the challenges the sector faces, and insightful about how we could change and adapt.” Smita is a member of the Higher Education Commission and an enthusiastic contributor to sector debate through the firm’s education blog, Going Further & Higher and her Twitter feed. She has an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for services to higher education from the University of Warwick.

Dr John Hogan, Registrar, Newcastle University

Dr John Hogan is Registrar at Newcastle University where he is responsible for a number of key services. He is also responsible for University governance. He was previously Academic Registrar and then Registrar and Secretary at the University of Durham. He was awarded a DPhil in History from the University of Sussex and commenced his career in higher education management at the University of Warwick, where he held various posts including working in the International Office and Graduate School. Dr Hogan is a member of Association of University Administrators. He is on the Executive of the Association of Heads of University Administration and is a member of the Employers’ Pension Forum.

Against the motion

Jackie Njoroge, Director of Strategy, University of Salford

Jackie joined the University of Salford in 2016 as its first Director of Strategy. Prior to this, she led the Strategic Planning and Management Information team within MMU, with a mandate to help change the strategic planning direction of the University.

A qualified management accountant, Jackie had a career in financial planning and management within the steel industry, before moving into Higher Education in 2003, where she eventually moved into Strategic Planning and Performance, successfully leading the team to an industry award for the implementation of Northumbria’s business intelligence solution. Jackie is also Deputy Chair of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Association.

Aaron Porter, Associate Director (Governance), Advance HE

Aaron Porter has a portfolio of roles across the higher education sector. He is the Associate Director (Governance) for Advance HE, leading an annual development programme for around 800 higher education governors. He is also the non-executive chair of BPP University, on the council of Goldsmiths University of London and non-executive chair of a specialist higher education provider in East London.

A previous President of the National Union of Students, he has served on a range of sector boards including UCAS, HEFCE and the OIA. He was on the Council of the University of Leicester during his time as President of the students’ union. Outside of higher education he is a governor of a primary and secondary school where he grew up in Croydon, and serves on the statutory education committee of the General Chiropractic Council.

Our working sessions

Around our ‘Collaborating for Success’ theme over 30 working sessions have been developed by the AUA community. All the sessions map to the AUA CPD framework and have been created with your learning and professional development needs in mind.

Conference prices

Member £239+VAT | Non member £399+VAT

Our non-member package includes 12 months AUA membership.

One of the biggest benefits of an online conference is that you will be able to access the whole programme. So, if you want to revisit a keynote or experience concurrent working sessions – you can!  You’ll be able to catch up in your own time for a month after the event.

Our 2021 sponsors and exhibitors

nottingham business school

As part of our sponsorship packages, we offer the opportunity for sponsors to write a blog. You can find this year’s exhibitor blogs here:

EAB | A new world of virtual operations: simplifying, standardising, and transforming the work of professional services. Read the blog here.
UNIwise | To proctor or not to proctor – is that the question? Read the blog here.
Evasys | What’s the Simplest Way to Close the Student Feedback Loop at Module Level? Read the blog here.

The AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition is the largest conference of its kind. Its history, size and reputation for offering a varied programme, which includes a large exhibition, attracts c650 HE professionals each year.

There are a number of exhibitor and sponsorship options available to suit your budget and business aim. Whether your organisation is currently working in HE or looking to enter the HE sector, the Conference can help you to:

  • Develop client relationships
  • Increase sector presence
  • Encourage brand awareness
  • Showcase your services to HE professionals

Interested in becoming a sponsor or exhibitor?

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