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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.


Dr Matthew Andrews, University Secretary and Registrar, University of Gloucestershire
Dr Kenton Lewis MBE, Director and Principal Consultant, Kenton Lewis Associates
Joanne Payne, Head of Professional Services Finance, University of Southampton and AUA Trustee

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

When and where?

Event: Introduction to Higher Education 

Date:  8 June 2017

Time9:30 to 16:40

Venue: Innside by Melia Manchester

Prices: AUA Member £100 +VAT, Non Member £200 +VAT

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


09:30 to 10:00  Arrival and registration

10:00 to 10:10  Welcome and introduction

10:10 to 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 to 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 to 11:45  Refreshments

11:45 to 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 to 14:00  Lunch

14:00 to 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 to 15:30  Refreshments

15:30 to 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 to 16:40  Wrap up and depart


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