AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022

Join HE professionals from across the sector for this year’s theme:
“What now? Shaping our future”

University of Manchester, 7 to 8 July 2022

What to expect from AUA 2022

‘What now? Shaping our future’ 

The events of last year disrupted everything we knew about the delivery of higher education. Professional services colleagues adapted their work by finding creative and innovative solutions to new problems and challenges, demonstrating remarkable flexibility and dedication to ensure the continuation of services throughout the chaos.

Under the 2022 theme we are proud to offer a programme of expert presenters, lively debate and the latest learning from your colleagues across the AUA. You can now find our full programme of inspiring plenary and keynote speakers below, and our 40 working sessions aimed at all areas of HE. Following a prolonged period of uncertainty and change, join us as we ask, ‘What now? and reflect on recent learnings and experiences, share experiences and consider the challenging questions so we can look ahead and shape our future.

After a pause on face-to-face events, we can’t wait to welcome you back in person to connect and develop with colleagues from across the sector and as part of Diamond Jubilee celebrations, we will be returning to Manchester, the home of the AUA since our establishment in 1961. 

Included as part of your face-to-face full package or available as a stand alone option, we are pleased to be offering a condensed online version of the programme which covers the highlights. You can find more details about this below.

Here is what some of our delegates thought of past AUA Annual Conferences:

Hotel options

Our programme

As always, we have worked hard to ensure that our members experience a varied and extensive programme with something for everyone. We are excited to announce our full programme of working sessions and plenary speakers. You can find details of the sessions, and a top level agenda, using the links below.

Our opening plenary

James Newby

Chief Operating Officer


About James

Prior to joining NMITE, James worked for the University of Surrey in a range of roles involving the leadership of teams responsible for most non-academic aspects of the University’s activities including Estates, IT, Commercial Services, Community relations, Fundraising and Institutional Governance. In his final year at Surrey, he led an organisational change team to reshape the University to prepare it to meet the many challenges facing the Higher Education sector.

In addition to his role at Surrey, James has worked with other Higher Education institutions as an advisor on organisational change and as a trustee of their Students’ Unions. This combined his HE and governance experience with his desire to work closely with students to improve the universities they attended. 

James specialises in organisational development and business change having worked with a number of organisations on restructuring projects. He is also a data compliance specialist so spent considerable time working on projects across the HE sector to prepare universities for the changes resulting from the introduction of the GDPR regulations in 2018.

Prior to joining the University sector, James worked in High Street retailing splitting his time between working in operations for companies such as WH Smith Limited and running his own businesses.

Shaping the future of higher education: A reflection of the NMITE journey

Fifteen years ago, a group of entrepreneurs, citizens and politicians asked themselves the question, ‘Now what?’.  

Herefordshire was one of two counties without a higher education institution and as a result, there was an exodus of young people; the county’s age demographic was one of the highest in the country; and attracting talent was near to impossible. 

Together they set up to ‘Shape the Future’ of their community, the country, and possibly, of the HEI sector. They would create the first green field ‘university’ in the UK in decades. 

With a blank piece of paper, twenty-five million pounds of grant funding from government and a vision and mandate to disrupt higher education, the NMITE journey began early in 2018. 

Fast forward to 2022, the question to answer is, was creating a new HEI from scratch the way forward? What are the lessons learnt from this journey? And as this nascent organisation moves forward, should it be asking itself ‘now what’ and be already ‘reshaping its future’? 

Our keynote speakers

Aidan Grills


Leeds University Union

About Aidan

Aidan has worked at the University of Leeds for 20 years, firstly as the Director of Membership Services & Development and for the last 12 years as Chief Executive of Leeds University Union. Prior to Leeds he held roles in Further Education and the students’ union at York St. John University. Aidan has served on the National Union of Students Board during a period of turnaround and restructure where he chaired the Finance & Audit Committee. Aidan is in his final term as Governor of Leeds Trinity University where he also chairs the Academic Assurance and Student Experience Committee. Outside Education Aidan is also Chair of Trustees for the Huddersfield Town AFC Foundation and a member of the UK Territory Advisory Board for The Salvation Army. Amongst his voluntary commitments the most important is that he is a Coach/Helper with Norristhorpe Juniors FC Under-10s. 

Aidan will present a summary of the latest findings on student expectations and motivations from research undertaken with the student body at the University of Leeds. This includes both primary data gathered directly from the student body and secondary data from a range of literature and sources used to inform this work. This research is for the purposes of future planning for Leeds University Union and identifies the priority work required to address strategic impact. Aidan will propose how the role of the students’ union might be developing in response to these findings and discuss what this might mean for work alongside other University professional services. 

Graeme Rosenberg

Head of TEF and Skills

Office for Students

About Graeme

Graeme is the Head of TEF and Skills at the Office for Students (OfS). He oversees the development and implementation of this new scheme for assessing the quality of teaching in UK higher education.

Before transferring to the OfS in 2018, Graeme worked at the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), focusing on the evaluation of both teaching and research in UK higher education.

He managed the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, from the initial pilot exercises through to its completion.

Prior to that he led HEFCE’s teaching quality assessment functions from 2001-06. This included reviewing the QAA audit method, setting up the National Student Survey, and developing new sources of student information about teaching quality.

Graeme was also Head of Health Education Policy in 2015.

Before joining HEFCE, he undertook a PhD in History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.

Update on the Teaching Excellence Framework
Next steps following consultation by the OfS

In his keynote address, Graeme will provide an update on the Teaching Excellence Framework. This session will provide a recap on the proposals for the future TEF framework and outline key themes emerging from responses to the consultation. Graeme will also discuss next steps in finalising the framework and preparing for implementation.

Sarah Smith

University Secretary

University of Edinburgh

About Sarah

Sarah Smith is Vice-Principal, Strategic Change and Governance; and University Secretary at the University of Edinburgh.  Sarah leads the professional services group within the University that is responsible for a range of staff, student and external services, including human resources, student services, communications, recruitment and admissions, international, legal and development and alumni.  Sarah also has a cross-University responsibility for strategic thinking; and for governance.  Sarah is a qualified Advanced Executive Coach and has recently completed the Executive Masters in Change at Insead.  Before joining the University of Edinburgh, Sarah was a senior policy official in both Scottish and UK Governments, working in areas as diverse as international negotiations, international development, children and young people’s services and strategy.  She was also Head of Policy Profession for Scottish Government. 

Taking it to Heart: The power of emotions in the leadership of change

More than ever, it is important for leaders to grapple with the impact of their emotions, for themselves and for the people that they lead.  In particular, to understand what keeps them afloat and what threatens their buoyancy; and how they impact (intentionally or otherwise) on the emotional energy of others around them. These questions were important ones before the onset of the covid-19 pandemic; since then they have had even greater salience.  This session will explore how greater awareness of the impact of emotions can be powerful in leading change in difficult, uncertain times.  It draws from my personal experience as a senior leader in the University of Edinburgh; and my recent research on the impact of emotions and emotional energy on senior leaders in Universities and Government. 

Patrick Johnson

Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Law

About Patrick

Patrick became Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the University of Law in January 2021 after working for 20 years at the University of Manchester.

He is a member of the University Executive Board and has specific responsibility for EDI, Student Support and Widening Participation.

Patrick has worked in EDI for the last 15 years and has been an active member of the HE community, collaborating with a wide range of institutions and supporting sector wide groups. He was a:

· Board member at the Equality Challenge Unit (now part of Advance HE) for six years

· Deputy Chair of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel, Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

· an advisor and member of the Diversity Steering group at the Wellcome Trust

· member of the Minister of State for Universities Diversity in Research and Innovation Committee

Patrick is currently a Commissioner with the Disabled Students’ Commission, an independent and strategic group that advises, informs and influences higher education providers to improve support for disabled students.

I cannot be what I cannot see – ethnic diversity in HE leadership: Ethnicity, meritocracy, and the future shape of higher education

Why is there a lack of ethnic diversity in senior leadership positions and does it matter?

This session will explore ethnic diversity in higher education. It will raise questions and challenges as to

why there is a lack of diversity and how we can reshape our future to be more inclusive.

Panel session

Over the past year and a half, our higher education institutions have introduced previously unthinkable changes to teaching delivery and our working modes in response to the global pandemic. The pandemic has challenged the sector to think differently, and with such change, perhaps comes opportunity. An opportunity to enhance higher education’s role in making a positive difference to the many challenges facing our society today and in the future. But are our higher education institutions facing up to the challenge of environmental sustainability, and what can they do to deliver on this vital issue?

Join us in this interactive panel session as our panellists discuss:
What now? Shaping our future.  
Has the environmental sustainability of our institutions been forgotten during the pandemic? 

Panellists will share their views and experiences to explore how sustainability fits into institutional goals and priorities and whether our institutions are ready to effect real change in the face of a climate crisis. Panellists invite the audience to pose questions and comments, as we examine how the pandemic has impacted our institutions’ prioritisation of environmental sustainability.

Our panel chair

Dame Shirley Pearce

AUA 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.

Our panellists

Rachel Soper

Senior Project Manager


About Rachel

Rachel Soper is senior project manager for engagement at Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-UK). Rachel delivers sustainability programmes, training and consultancy within the education sector and community organisations. Rachel also leads SOS-UK’s UNESCO award-winning sustainability awards and engagement programme, Green Impact.

Andrew Burgess

Director of Estates, Facilities and Commercial Services

Lancaster University

About Andrew

Andrew Burgess joined Lancaster University in September 2018.   His portfolio includes leading the delivery of the University masterplan and capital programme; facilities services, commercial services and sport. Prior to joining Lancaster he was previously the Director of Infrastructure and Commercial Services (Deputy Chief Operating Officer) at Loughborough University from 2007, he held various roles including a period as Acting Chief Operating Officer.   From an initial career in the construction industry, Andrew moved into a building surveying consultancy role and has held various roles in the universities of Central Lancashire, Southampton and Liverpool. Andrew is a Chartered Surveyor by Profession.

Sally McGilll BA MA FCA

Chief Financial Officer and Deputy Chief Executive

Staffordshire University

About Sally

Sally joined the Executive Team of Staffordshire University in July 2019.  Sally Is responsible for the University’s financial, commercial and environmental sustainability, working with a range of internal and external stakeholders to ensure that the organisation is able to respond to strategic opportunities as they arise.  Sally’s portfolio also includes the newly formed Centre for Business, Innovation and Enterprise which will be based, from 2022, in the new Catalyst building.

Sally has worked in the Higher Education sector for over ten years, having held senior finance roles at both Durham University and the University of Manchester. She was previously the Chief Financial Officer at Durham University and introduced fresh thinking to Durham University’s strategic financial planning, working with external funders and private sector partners to secure long-term financing solutions for the development of additional student accommodation and the academic estate.

Sally is a graduate of Durham University, where she studied modern languages, and holds a master’s degree from Sheffield University in Information Technology Management. She is also a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and has been active within the British Universities Finance Directors Group for many years, and is a former Chair. She is currently a member of the UUK HE Climate Task and Finish Group.

Professor Christopher Linton

Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

Loughborough University

About Christopher

‌Professor Chris Linton is a mathematician who has made important contributions to the development of mathematical techniques used in the study of wave scattering.  He studied as an undergraduate at Jesus College, Oxford and obtained his PhD from the University of Bristol in 1988. He joined Loughborough University in 1993 and became a Professor of Applied Mathematics in 2003. After periods as Head of Department and Faculty Dean, he took up his current post as Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2011.

Outside of his academic career at Loughborough, Chris has served as President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications between January 2016 and December 2017 and remains a member of its Council. He is also a Trustee of National Numeracy, a charity which is committed to helping adults improve their confidence and competence with numbers and data and of the Quarterly Journal of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics Trust, which distributes the profits from its publication to support applied mathematics research in the UK.

Manveer Gill

Senior Project Officer


About Manveer

Manveer is a Senior Project Officer at CDP, an environmental NGO, managing relationships with financial institutions to support their efforts to integrate environmental issues across mainstream investment processes. A Student Honorary Fellow and COP26 delegate of the EAUC, he graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Warwick and continues his work within the sector of education as a Commissioner on the Climate Commission for UK Higher and Further Education, aiming to catalyse a sector-wide response to the Climate Emergency.

Our closing plenary

Professor Ken Sloan


Harper Adams University

About Professor Ken Sloan

Professor Ken Sloan joined Harper Adams as Vice-Chancellor on 1 November 2021.  Professor Sloan has extensive international experience in leadership, governance, administrative and commercial activities.   

Previously, Professor Sloan was at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, serving as the inaugural Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Governance). As a member of the University Executive, Professor Sloan was responsible for providing University-wide leadership and strategic support for the creation and acceleration of major partnerships, government relations, precinct development, new revenue creation, commercialisation, innovation, entrepreneurship, strategic intelligence, group governance and institutional risk.  

Professor Sloan has previously held roles as Registrar and Chief Operating Officer at the University of Warwick; as a Business Development Director, Universities and Higher Education, with SERCO; and as Special Advisor to the Stephen A. Schwarzman Education Foundation, based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. He continues to serve as a panel chair for the Schwarzman Scholars annual selection process. 

Professor Sloan has chaired and served on the boards of a number of institutional subsidiary companies, boards and international fundraising and development trusts. He chaired the boards of Monash Investment Holdings and Monash College, the Audit and Risk Committee of the IITB-Monash Academy and the Monash Technology Transformation Institute (Shenzhen) Executive Committee. He served on the boards of BioCurate Pty Ltd, Warwick University Enterprises (Australia), and as Chair of the Victorian Heart Institute Strategic Advisory Board. He served as sector representative on the Federal Austrade Agriculture 4.0 Steering Committee and previously as Chair of the Coventry Partnership, ethics adviser to Coventry City Council, Chair of Governors of Woodway Park School and Community College, governor of the WMG Academy for Young Engineers and a board director of the Midlands Arts Centre. He was chair or member of the University of Warwick’s fundraising trusts in Singapore, South Africa and Hong Kong. 

Professor Sloan graduated with an MA (Hons) from the University of Glasgow, an MBA from the Warwick Business School, and is a member of CPA Australia. He is a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators (FAUA) and a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (FRSA).   

It’s Life, But Not As We Know It? 
Most institutions have been changed by the pandemic.  What does it mean for the future of work. 

Most institutions have been changed by the pandemic.  What does it mean for the future of work. 

The pandemic has affected all organisations. Many have discovered new capabilities and approaches which have changed what they do and how they do it.  Drawing on experience in the UK, Australia and internationally, the session will explore what this has meant for how we work in universities and colleges, and what it might mean for leadership, careers and career choices in the future. It will also examine what we might need to do to get the best from the diverse talent we recruit.

Session Tasters

HE policy: Respect, relationships and conduct
(Session 103)
Central or local? The effects of power dynamics on campus
(Session 207)
Supporting doctoral researchers in a virtual world
(Session 104)
Has the environmental sustainability of our institutions been forgotten during the pandemic?
(Panel session)
Development Monthly Live: have your say in shaping the future of AUA’s reflective offering #develop
(Session 307)
Ways of working post Covid19: A sector perspective
(Session 106)
Being mentored and being a mentor: mentoring in practice and why you should try it
(Session 107)
What now?”: student expectations and the role of the HE professional services
(Keynote session)
Aspiring Academic Registrars
(Session 407)

Gala Dinner

We are excited to announce that this year’s Gala Dinner will take place at the Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel on Thursday, 7 July, with a drinks reception, a delicious three-course dinner, the AUA awards and the famous AUA disco.

So, put on your dancing shoes, dress to impress and we will see you there!

Conference prices

Standard bookings

All prices include VAT and we are pleased to include 12 months AUA membership for anyone who purchases the non-member full package. Please see below for our Refer-a-Friend scheme.

Full package
Member £504 | Non-member £672
All full packages include the online offering and complimentary attendance at the gala dinner*

Thursday only delegate
Member £342 | Non-member £456

Friday only delegate
Member £342 | Non-member £456

Gala dinner* | Mercure Manchester Piccadilly Hotel
Member £112.50 | Non-member £150

If you are an international delegate that requires a UK visa to attend you can request a confirmation letter for your Annual Conference booking, by completing this form. We can not provide letters of invitation and we will only issue confirmation letters for fully paid bookings.

*AUA and Sustainability

Although for many, the Gala Dinner is a highlight of the AUA Conference, we understand that it may not be for everyone. For anyone who purchases the full package and does not plan to attend the Gala Dinner, we would be grateful if you could please let us know in advance to help us reduce the amount of potential food waste at the event.

Refer a friend

As a thank you to our members, we are offering a 20% discount off bookings for the AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2022 as part of this exclusive Refer-a-Friend scheme*. To take advantage, just direct a non-member to the Refer-a-Friend form below to book their place on the AUA Conference. They will then receive 20% off their booking and in return you will too.

*Full terms can be found on the form.

Online offering

One of the biggest positives to come from last year is the ability to now be able to offer effective professional development online. Whilst we cannot replicate the full in-person experience, we are pleased to be able to offer a package for those who want to participate in the event but cannot or do not want to attend in-person.

Purchasing our online package will give you access to the following live sessions:
– Opening plenary
– Two of the keynote sessions (TBC)
– Panel debate
– Closing plenary

If you are unable to join live or would like to revisit them at any point, you will be sent the recordings of the sessions after the event has finished. Your online package will also give you access to our exciting and interactive conference app where you can engage with people attending both virtually and in-person.

Prices (including VAT):
Member £180 | Non-member £240


As part of our Diamond Jubilee celebrations and our ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, we are pleased to introduce a brand new bursary scheme for AUA members who would not ordinarily be able to attend the AUA Annual Conference due to lack of funding.

Applications are now closed.

Sponsorship and exhibition

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?

AUA2022 Sponsors

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