Conference programme

Our Annual Conference and Exhibition… the numbers…

Two high profile plenary speakers

Six influential key note speakers from within and beyond higher education

One debate, four panel members

Sixty four working sessions covering the breadth of HE administration and management

Countless networking opportunities

In this section

At a glance

Sunday 9 April

18:30 – 22:30  Sunday Social (drinks and dinner) and Quiz
Venue: Manchester School of Art, Benzie Building
(Manchester Metropolitan University)

Monday 10 April

10:30 – 12:00  Opening Plenary – Nicola Dandridge CBE, Chief Executive, Universities UK
“Challenges, opportunities and politics in higher education”

12:00 – 12:45  Lunch

12:45 – 14:00  Working Session One

14:00 – 14:50  Keynote Session One

14:50 – 15:30  Refreshments

15:30 – 16:45  Working Session Two

16:45 – 17:30  AGM

19:00 – 00:00  Gala Dinner and Awards
Venue: The Principal Manchester

Tuesday 11 April

09:30 – 10:45  Working Session Three

10:45 – 11:15  Refreshments

11:15 – 12:25  Debate

12:25 – 13:15  Lunch

13:15 – 14:05  Keynote Session Two

14:05 – 15:20  Working Session Four

15:20 – 16:00  Refreshments

16:00 – 17:00  Closing Plenary – Simon Fanshawe OBE, Writer and Broadcaster
“Diversity by design”

Plenary speakers


Opening plenary – Monday 10 April (10:30 – 12:00)

Nicola Dandridge CBE, Chief Executive, Universities UK
Challenges, opportunities and politics in higher education

Nicola will talk about some of the many challenges facing the sector in the UK in the face of unparalleled political uncertainty both domestic and internationally, particularly in the light of the Brexit referendum decision. She will also consider the impact of the far reaching reforms to the HE system in England and throughout the UK, and describe some of the emerging responses to these challenges from universities.

nicola dandridge cbe

Nicola Dandridge has been Chief Executive of Universities UK since September 2009. Universities UK is the representative organisation for the UK’s Universities. Founded in 1918, UUK has 135 members and offices in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. Its mission is to be the definitive voice for all universities in the UK, promoting the strength and success of UK universities nationally and internationally.

Nicola was previously Chief Executive of the Equality Challenge Unit, the higher education agency which promotes equality and diversity for staff and students in higher education in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Prior to this, Nicola was a lawyer qualified in both England and Scotland working in private practice.


Closing plenary – Tuesday 11 April (16:00 – 17:00)
Simon Fanshawe OBE, Writer and Broadcaster
Diversity by design

Many Universities have spent a great amount of time and money on diversity. For good reason. There is much research to suggest that greater diversity in their staff will further enhance their ability to deliver their core mission of teaching, research, preparing students with a great experience for life and having an effect on the world, locally, nationally and globally. However from the money and time spent, the results are neither good nor fast enough. Progress needs to be better and swifter. Bringing together the latest research (together with case studies from the work his consultancy has been doing in HE and drawing on his experience as Chairman of a top 20 UK University),  Simon Fanshawe OBE will discuss an effective way of tackling the diversity deficits and reap the diversity dividends and bringing about a real change in the numbers with a significant change of approach.

simon fanshawe obeSimon Fanshawe is a co founder and partner in Diversity by Design, a ground breaking consultancy that works with organisations to develop diversity solutions to strategic questions in order to build greater performance. Current clients include: Sheffield, Cardiff, Kingston, Hertfordshire Universities, FirstGroup, Costa, Virgin Media, the Co-op, GCHQ, NSPCC, The College of Policing, The Army. 

From 2007 – 2013 he was chairman of the University of Sussex governing Council. He is currently on the Boards of Brighton Dome and Festival, Housing and Care 21 and is a Trustee of The Museum of London. He was a co-founder of one of the most successful lobby and campaign groups in recent times, the lesbian and gay equality organisation Stonewall. He is now a co-founder of the Kaleidoscope Trust, supporting lgbti activists abroad. He is also a broadcaster, writer and pundit. He was awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours list 2013 for services to HE. And he was made an Honorary Doctor of the University of Sussex for services to diversity and human rights in 2013.


Keynote speakers

For information about booking Keynote sessions click here.

Keynote one – Monday 10 April (14:00 – 14:50)

Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council
Manchester – A City Transformed: Transforming Lives through Devolution

Manchester has always been a transformational city. The world’s first industrial city, midwife to Baby, the first computer, and reborn following the 1996 IRA bomb, and biggest explosion ever in mainland Britain. Under the Devolution Deal, Greater Manchester will control over £1bn of public money, and is taking wide new powers from central government including control over transport, land use, planning, and policing, and over both health and social care and services for children. The Manchester Combined Authorities will oversee a bigger economy than the Scottish Government. So the power to transform lives here rests with local government.

So how is the deal working out so far? And what will the impact of Brexit be? Will it deliver transformation for people in Greater Manchester? 

Richard Leese was born and brought up in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. After graduating from the University of Warwick, he worked as a teacher in Coventry and as an exchange teacher in the USA before moving to Manchester to take up a post as a youth worker. He was employed variously in youth work, community work, and education research between 1979 and 1988, and was elected to Manchester City Council in 1984. He became Leader of the Council in 1996, having previously served as Deputy Leader (1990 – 1996), Chair of the Education Committee (1986 – 1990) and Chair of the Finance Committee (1990 – 1995).

Richard’s political interests include devolution, place-based budgets and the links between economic development and social policy, developing open democracy and the community leadership role of local authorities; and the role of cities in creating a sustainable future. He has a number of additional responsibilities including Director of Manchester Airport Holdings Ltd, Vice Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Chair of the Association of Rail North Partner Authorities and Chair of the LGA City Regions Board.

Paul Redmond, Director of Student Life, The University of Manchester
Every generation is a new people: Strategies and techniques for helping managers make the most of today’s multi-generational workplace

For the first time in history, five generations are working alongside each other in the workplace – each with its own unique generationally specific characteristics, aspirations and communication styles. For managers, never has there been a greater opportunity for harnessing the benefits of a truly multi-generational workforce; and never has there been a greater risk of inter-generational conflict!

This presentation will provide an insight into how different generations reshape the world of work. You will learn how to manage, motivate and maintain multiple generations, gain an insight into each generation’s secret aspirations, and discover why, for one generation in particular, punctuality has become an optional extra.

Dr Paul Redmond is Director of Student Life at The University of Manchester and an expert on generations and the world of work. As an experienced writer and speaker, Paul has presented at numerous events and conferences around the world. In addition to writing regularly for national newspapers, he is a frequent contributor to radio and TV programmes.

Paul’s work brings him into contact with a broad range of national and international organisations. His research into the future of work and ‘Generation Y’ has attracted considerable attention among both graduate recruiters and the media.

Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the author of several books, including the best-selling ‘The Graduate Careers Formula,’ and (exclusively for Helicopter Parents) ‘A Parent’s Guide to Graduate Jobs.

Julia Buckingham, Vice Chancellor and President, Brunel University London
Challenges for an international university in a rapidly changing world

Brexit is arguably the biggest societal change the UK has seen since the second world war. Without doubt, the referendum result came as a rude awakening for many and created shock waves in our universities, affecting individuals (students and staff) personally as well as posing a significant threat to many facets of our work, including our interactions with strategic partners. Our challenge now as universities is to position ourselves for success in a new world, to play our role in driving economic growth and prosperity and to ensure that the UK retains its enviable position as a world leading provider of higher education and research. This session will use Brexit as an example to give a perspective on how an international university can maintain its strategic focus and at the same time have the agility to respond to change, to take advantage of opportunities and to navigate their way around obstacles, both predicted and unexpected, as they emerge.

Julia Buckingham read Zoology at the University of Sheffield and, after a short spell in the pharmaceutical industry, moved to London to study for a PhD in Pharmacology at the University of London and to pursue an academic career.

She was awarded a DSc and appointed to the Chair of Pharmacology at Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School in 1987 where she became Pre-clinical Dean in 1992. She joined Imperial College London in 1997, contributing to the establishment of the new Faculty of Medicine and held the roles of College Dean for non-clinical Medicine, Head of the Department of Neuroscience and Mental Health, Head of the Centre for Integrative Mammalian Physiology and Pharmacology and Pro-Rector (Education and Academic Affairs). In 2012 she was appointed Vice-Chancellor and President of Brunel University London.

Throughout her career Julia has combined research and education with supporting the broader aspects of academic life through work with the research councils, medical charities and learned societies. She has published widely in her field, served on numerous national and international review panels and received a number of prestigious awards and honours for her work.

Former roles include President of the British Pharmacological Society, President of the Society for Endocrinology, member of the Sykes Commission, Editor of the Journal of Neuroendocrinology, Chairman of BioScientifica Ltd, Chairman of SCORE and a member of the Athena Forum. Current roles include trustee/board member of the Royal Institution, the Royal Society of Biology, Universities UK, STEMNET, St Mary’s Calne, Imperial College Health Partners and member of the All-Party Parliamentary University Group Council.

Keynote two Tuesday 11 April (13:15 – 14:05)

Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester
The Science of Influence and Persuasion: Transformation Using Hard Science for Soft Skills

Research shows that one of the greatest areas of failure for leaders, across all sectors, is the inability to manage change. Most ‘Transformation’ programmes come with a large element of change within them so what can be done to improve the probability of success?

One key finding shows that in order to be successful at managing change, and deliver transformational initiatives, is the ability to influence and persuade ALL stakeholders that the transformation is the right thing to do. The Science of Influence and Persuasion looks at what researched findings show about the approaches that are proven to have a significantly better outcome. With a focus on the ‘6 Principles of Influence and Persuasion’ this keynote provides insightful, humorous and practical ideas to be more influential and persuasive.

Dil Sidhu is one of just 24 people personally trained and mentored by Professor Robert Cialdini to deliver his ground breaking research and insights. Dil has worked on change management and transformational initiatives within the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. He has also taught on executive education programmes at 22 colleges and Universities around the world including: Alliance Manchester Business School, London Business School, Oxford Said Business School and Harvard Business School. While he holds 3 Master’s level degrees and is an alumnus of Harvard and London Business School Dil spends much of his time working on being a screen writer. However, experience to date includes rejection letters from every major Hollywood Studio.

Douglas Blackstock, Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education
Quality Transformation

In the context of a fast-changing political, policy and regulatory landscape for higher education, Douglas Blackstock will discuss how approaches to UK quality assurance are transforming to meet the needs of the sector. Douglas will also reflect on how quality assurance continues to evolve to keep pace with the continued rapid growth of higher education globally.

Douglas Blackstock has been QAA’s Chief Executive since October 2015. His work includes leading QAA’s contribution to the current changes to the policy, regulatory and quality landscape in England and across the UK, and the Agency’s role in developing the Teaching Excellence Framework alongside other sector partners.

Douglas joined QAA in 2002 as Director of Administration, and has subsequently held the roles of Director of Resources and Chief Operating Officer and was QAA’s Company Secretary from 2002 to 2016. He led QAA’s work on student engagement for a number of years, and was a member of the NUS & UUK-led Student Charter Group and the subsequent Framework for Partnership Group. He is active in the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA), and chaired the ENQA Staff Development Group. He is a graduate in Public Administration from what is now Glasgow Caledonian.

Helen Marshall, Vice Chancellor, University of Salford
Challenging traditional program design and delivery to better support widening participation students

Current agendas that seek to promote “widening participation” and the development of skilled as well as knowledgeable graduates mean that universities need to take a step back to re-examine and challenge traditional curriculum design and delivery models. This paper explores the current landscape and requirements such as modularisation, credits, learning outcomes and levels and how those support and/or constrain curriculum design and delivery that engages and develops students who come from backgrounds that are mixed in terms of previous educational experience, socio-economic class and cultural heritage. The central theme is to challenge perceptions that certain approaches to curriculum design and delivery are not possible because of these requirements.

Professor Helen Marshall was appointed Vice-Chancellor from acting Vice-Chancellor in April 2015, having joined the University of Salford in November 2013 as Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Prior to joining the University Helen was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Business Development) at the University of South Wales from 2010, and in her time there, she led on academic and business development initiatives. She was responsible for the development of a new curriculum in creative industries, the establishment of a Centre for Financial and Professional Services and the review and renewal of the law curriculum. She also led on widening participation and was Director for the University of South Wales’ Universities Heads of the Valleys Institute (UHOVI) – a ground breaking initiative backed by the Welsh Government to provide opportunities for local people and businesses to improve skills and qualifications by making learning accessible across the Valleys region. The UHOVI was recognised with a national Guardian Higher Education Award in 2013.

Helen studied Law before continuing to postgraduate research in Corporate Merger Law at the University of Birmingham. Born in Cardiff, Helen has lived in the North West for a significant period of her career. Before moving to South Wales, Helen held senior positions at the University of Central Lancashire and at the University of Cumbria, as well as gaining extensive experience in quality assurance through a secondment to the QAA.

Sue Holmes, Director of Estates and Facilities Management, Oxford Brookes University
Transforming the estate – more than just building works? Estate quality is linked to student choice and expectations. How do we ensure estate transformation delivers the best experience for staff and students?

This session will explore the issues and challenges of defining and delivering a transformational estate. How do we ensure that spaces provide a forty year building life, meet immediate needs, but are flexible enough in many cases, to meet future and as yet undefined need? Transformational spaces require transformational concepts and ideas that many colleagues will then need to articulate and deliver.

Whether providing new space or refurbishing existing spaces, for teaching, research, or residential needs, estates projects always have a significant impact on users, our campus community and inevitably our local area. With challenging legislative compliance and a need to ensure we manage future operational costs, transforming our estate reaches far and deep.

Sue Holmes is ‎Director Of Estates and Facilities Management at Oxford Brookes University with responsibility for managing planning, construction, maintenance, facilities and sports, servicing the higher education estate, in support of the university’s strategic objectives. She is recognised as an expert on university space management, developing innovative spaces which create flexible and interesting areas in which to develop teaching and learning, and on issues related to effective use of space and good design in UK Higher Education and has spoken nationally and internationally on this subject. Sue held the role as Chair of AUDE 2015/16 and is currently past Chair. Sue feels the role of AUDE is vitally important in times of change and challenge; together with delivering innovative solutions across estates and facilities demonstrating sector improvements illustrated by the EMR annual report and the evidence in Diamond 2.

At Oxford Brookes, Sue has worked with her teams to develop innovative spaces which create adaptable and fascinating areas in which to amplify teaching and learning. Prior to Oxford Brookes, Sue previously worked as Director of Estates at Leeds Metropolitan University and Sheffield Hallam University and was Chair of the AUA 2004 – 2006.

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Each year at conference we host a debate on an important issue relevant to higher education.

Chaired by the AUA’s Honorary President Professor Ruth Farwell CBE DL, this year’s debate sees an invited panel of high-profile members from across the sector speaking for and against the statement “This house believes that a degree is a sound financial investment.”

Statement: “This house believes that a degree is a sound financial investment.”

At the end of the debate delegates will be invited to cast their votes either in favour of or against the statement.

The debate panel is:-

  • Professor Malcolm Press, Vice Chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Ant Bagshaw, Deputy Director, Wonkhe
  • Sana Iqbal, President at University of Central Lancashire Student’s Union
  • Rose Marley, CEO, SharpFutures

The debate takes place from 11:15 to 12:25 on Tuesday 11 April.