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Introduction to Higher Education


8 Jun, 2017

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Event overview

This day provides an overview of the UK higher education sector. This is relevant whether you have come into the sector at a more senior level, are still in your early career, or if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the sector context having moved roles. Changes in the sector and the space and place of administration in the sector are covered as well as current hot topics. There is a strong emphasis on understanding how political, economic, social and academic considerations impact on the sector, and delegates will be encouraged to reflect on how their own role and institution contributes to, and is influenced by, these external factors.

Some of the feedback received from previous events highlights the high level of quality we strive to offer our participants:

“The engaging speakers and the time given over to peer discussion/debate make it a very enjoyable and excellent learning experience.”

“Knowledgeable, friendly, good natured advice. Made me feel proud of what I do and will do in the future. “

“Provided a platform to share good practice.”

Join the debate and follow this event on Twitter using #Intro2HE.

When and where?

Date:  Thursday, 8 June 2017

Time9:30 to 16:40

Venue: Innside by Melia Manchester

Prices£100 for AUA members 

             £200 for non-AUA members

Can’t make this date? This event will run again in London on Thursday, 14 December 2017.


09:30 – 10:00  Arrival and registration

10:00 – 10:10  Welcome and introduction

10:10 – 10:40  HE: The First 1000 Years (or so)

  • The higher education sector is not now, nor has it ever been, homogenous. Understanding this context puts the current sector into a sharper focus.  The Introduction to Higher Education therefore starts with a look into the historical development of higher education throughout the United Kingdom from the 11th Century to the present day
  • The session offers a review of the way in which higher education evolved differently in each of the four countries that have formed part of the United Kingdom during this period, and how these developments have shaped and been shaped by those countries leading to the distinctive forms of higher education that make up the sector today
  • Further information about how key developments in the sector, such as external examining and the classification system, arose and how these developments informed and continue to inform debates within the sector (whether or not the historical antecedents to current discussions are recognised)

10:40 – 11:25  HE: The Sector Today and Tomorrow

  • Understanding what is meant by ‘higher educational sector’: the structure and organisation of the contemporary sector, including the role of providers of higher education, professional bodies, statutory organisations, and government
  • The size, scale and scope of higher education, including the benefits to graduates and the sector’s contribution to society generally
  • Current issues affecting the sector, including legislative reform, and the forces shaping the agenda of governing bodies
  • Some (informed!) speculation about the issues that the higher education sector will be grappling with in the medium term – and that form the context for the work undertaken by professional higher education administrators

11:25 – 11:45  Refreshments

11:45 – 13:00  An Introduction to HE Finances

  • Context: a look at the position and role of HEIs in the UK economy, recognising the significant part higher education plays in the overall economy
  • The changing financial environment: an overview of from where HEIs get their funds, and a review of funding and the impact of changes over recent years
  • Operating HEIs: covering effective use of resources and considering whether or to what extent a University should be business-like
  • Financial management: a brief explanation of tools, jargon and the financial cycle to help you understand finance in your institution and the sector
  • Current issues and changing financial strategy in the sector

13:00 – 14:00  Lunch

14:00 – 15:15  The Place and Space of Administration in the Sector

  • Locating administrative functions in the broader context of Higher Education activity; starting to define who ‘we’ are
  • An exploration of professionalism and the professional identity of administrative and managerial staff; addressing questions of what our professional identity is, could be and/or should be, as well as the extent to which our professional identity is fixed
  • Unpacking, as a participant, your own professional position in the context of personal development; an opportunity for self- and peer- reflection

15:15 – 15:30  Refreshments

15:30 – 16:30  The Idea of a University Balloon debate

  • The purpose, or idea, of the university has been debated for as long as there have been universities. Do universities exist to prepare students for meaningful careers? Or perhaps their purpose is to shape and develop the faculties of the mind?  Maybe they exist for the creation of new knowledge? This final session will be highly interactive, with delegates debating and comparing six ideas of the university. But this is a balloon debate, and one idea must prevail: as delegates you will decide!

16:30 – 16:40  Wrap up and depart


Dr Matthew Andrews, University Secretary and Registrar, University of Gloucestershirephoto matthew andrews

Matthew is University Secretary and Academic Registrar at the University of Gloucestershire, where he has worked since April 2016. Prior to that he was Academic Registrar and Director of Academic and Student Affairs at Oxford Brookes University (2008-16) and Director of the Graduate School (2005-08) and Director of Undergraduate Recruitment (2003-05) at Durham University.

Matthew has also served on numerous national groups, including as Chair of the AUA from 2012 to 2014 and before that leading on international activities for the AUA.  He was a member of the Executive Committee of the Academic Registrars’ Council (ARC), and chaired the ARC Admissions Practitioners’ Group from 2010 to 2012.  Matthew also served on the Supporting Professionalism in Admissions (SPA) Steering Group.  He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal Perspectives and on the Editorial Board of the Times Higher Education (THE).  Matthew led the introduction of GPA at Oxford Brookes, and was a member of the Higher Education Academy’s (HEA) National GPA Advisory Group and currently sits on the HEA National Implementation Steering Group.

Matthew graduated from Durham University with a B.A. in Philosophy and Theology and an M.A. in Seventeenth Century Philosophy.  He also graduated from Northumbria University with an M.Sc. in Social Research.  He obtained his doctorate from Oxford University after researching higher education in the nineteenth century.

A regular public speaker, Matthew addresses numerous topics including the history of higher education, the contemporary structure of the sector, and the professionalisation of higher education administration and management.

Dr Kenton Lewis MBE, Director and Principal Consultant, Kenton Lewis Associatesphoto kenton lewis

Kenton is an educational sociologist and an experienced manager, trainer and executive coach. He currently works as an independent consultant, and is a founding member of the education consultancy collective 4PF.

Previously he worked for 18 years in higher education administration, management, leadership and governance, with a particular focus on: staff development; stakeholder management; community engagement; organisational development; and research & evaluation. He is a Trustee and Fellow of the AUA, a founding member and Trustee of The Bridge Group (an independent social mobility policy association), a Fellow of the CMI, a Principal Fellow of the HEA, and a Fellow of the RSA.

Kenton has held senior roles at the University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, St George’s, University of London, and the Higher Education Academy. He is widely published on issues of professional staff development and social mobility, and has extensively researched constructions of identity and belonging of staff, students, and other key stakeholder groups.

He has won multiple awards for educational innovation, including the Lord Mayor of London Dragon Award and the Guardian Public Service Award. He was recognised in the 2014 New Year Honours with an MBE for services to Higher Education.

Joanne Payne, Head of Professional Services Finance, University of Southampton and AUA Trustee

photo joanne payne

Joanne joined the University of Southampton in 2006 as Business Accountant for Estates & Facilities. She was promoted in 2010 to Head of Professional Services Finance for the former COO group, and then in 2015 to her current position as Head of all Professional Services Finance. Joanne is a graduate of Loughborough University and a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. She has previously worked in manufacturing industry for Manor Bakeries and Amphenol (engineering), and also in the retail sector for the Nuance Group (international duty & tax free retailers). Joanne is Treasurer and a Trustee of the AUA.


Bookings have now closed. If you are still interested in this event please contact us at aua.events@aua.ac.uk