In conversation with Nick, Shirley and Amanda:
An interactive discussion on the challenges facing the HE sector today

This lecture will take place via Zoom.

Free and exclusive to AUA Members

16.00 to 17.00

Thursday, 18 November 2021

About this Event

Take advantage of this exclusive AUA membership benefit and join us at our 24th Annual Lecture. This year, we are delighted to be joined by the Director of HEPI, Nick Hillman to bring you a frank and open discussion alongside AUA’s honorary president Dame Shirley Pearce and AUA’s Chair and the Director of College Operations at Brunel University, Amanda Oliver, about the challenges and opportunities facing the HE sector today.

Between them, Nick, Shirley and Amanda represent a breadth of perspectives from across the sector, and they will each discuss and highlight upcoming challenges and opportunities that they see ahead for the sector and what this means for universities and HE Professionals.

The audience will then be invited to ask the speakers questions about the views they have discussed, as well as defining moments that have helped shaped their own careers. This lecture will leave you feeling informed, engaged, and ready to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead.

Interested in becoming an AUA Member? Find out more and how to join here.

Details in brief

Location: Online via Zoom

Date: 18 November 2021

Time: 16:00 to 17.00

Fees: Free and exclusive to AUA members


Nick Hillman



About Nick

Nick Hillman has been the Director of HEPI since 2014. He worked for the Rt Hon David Willetts MP (now Lord Willetts), the Minister for Universities and Science, from 2007 until the end of 2013, as Chief of Staff and then Special Adviser in the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. Previously, he was a History teacher and worked at the Association of British Insurers. At the 2010 general election, he was the runner-up in Cambridge.

He has written for a range of think tanks and journals. His journal articles include pieces on the Coalition’s higher education reforms for the Oxford Review of Education (2016), on access to schools and selective universities for Higher Education Review (2014) and on the fifty-year history of student loans for Contemporary British History (2013). He also wrote the authoritative account of being a special adviser for the Institute of Government (2014).

His recent research for HEPI includes a history of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), a piece on the likely impact of Brexit on student demand and university governance in a new age of regulation.

In late 2020, he was shortlisted for the first Prospect magazine Think Tanker of the Year Award.

Dame Shirley Pearce DBE

Honorary President


About Shirley

Dame Shirley Pearce has held senior executive and non-executive roles in higher education, health and policing with experience of both the public and private sectors.

She is currently, an independent member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), a non executive director of the Unite Group, a member of the Higher Education Quality Assurance Panel for the Ministry of Education in Singapore, a Trustee for the Royal Anniversary Trust and a member of the advisory board of HCA UK.

Shirley was Vice Chancellor of Loughborough University from 2005 to 2012, delivering a new strategy for the university which saw a significant increase in turnover, closer working with industry partners and research success in the Research Excellence Framework. The interests of students and the quality of the learning environment were at the core of the strategy and Loughborough has developed an outstanding reputation for teaching quality and student satisfaction. She was a board member at the Higher Education Funding Council for England where she chaired the Research and Innovation Strategic Advisory Committee and the national Review of Philanthropy in UK Higher Education. She was also a Board member of UCEA. 

She has also held senior governance roles in higher education as Chair of Court and Council at the London School of Economics and Political Science and Council member of the University of Cambridge.

The Secretary for State for Education appointed Shirley as the independent reviewer for TEF under HERA. The review was completed in August 2019.

In 2013 Shirley was appointed by the Home Secretary as the inaugural Chair of the College of Policing (the first professional body for policing) where she oversaw the introduction of the first Code of Ethics for policing based on the Nolan Principles.

In the NHS she was a Board member and inaugural Commissioner of the Healthcare commission and a non executive director of Health Education England. Earlier health roles included being a non-executive director of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority.

Early in her academic career she held appointments at University College London (UCL) where she co-led the establishment of the doctoral training programme for clinical psychology and at the University of East Anglia (UEA) where she established a new medical school with an innovative curriculum and a focus on primary care and inter-professional learning.

Dame Shirley was appointed CBE in 2005 for services to education in the NHS and in 2014 appointed DBE for services to Higher Education.

Amanda Oliver

AUA Chair and Director of College Operations

Brunel University

Amanda has been Chair of the AUA Board of Trustees since August 2020. Amanda’s career in education extends over 37 years in roles that span the breadth of professional services functions within a university; she is currently Director of College Operations at Brunel University London and prior to this was Head of Business Operations at Kingston University/St George’s, University of London. As an AUA Fellow she brings extensive sector knowledge and experience and has always had a passion for supporting the professional development of others. Amanda has had a long association with the AUA and has previously been chair of the AUA Board of Studies which has oversight for the PG Cert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership.

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This year’s lecture is kindly sponsored by:

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