AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition 2020

Collaborating for success

The University of Nottingham
6 to 7 April 2020

This event has now been postponed. More information available at:

What to expect from AUA 2020

Insight from our sector’s leading voices

Each year, the AUA Annual Conference attracts an unrivalled speaker line-up of established practitioners and thought leaders to deliver sessions that are designed in response to your working needs and challenges. You’ll be empowered with inspiration, fresh ideas and practical tools to apply in your own work the very next day.

Networking opportunities

Network with 650+ like-minded peers from across the UK and the rest of the world – whether you’re strengthening current relationships, meeting new contacts or reigniting old connections. Tap into their experiences, insights and good practice in a series of learning and social events where you’ll meet fellow professionals to learn from. Discuss the industry challenges you face and the opportunities you’re looking for together.

Celebration and fun

The conference is our annual celebration of the contribution of professional services in HE. It is your opportunity to spend two days sharing, learning (and even dancing) with those who love working in the same diverse and vibrant sector as you do.

Here is what some of last year’s delegates thought

Our programme

As always, we’ve worked hard to ensure that our members experience a varied and extensive programme with something for everyone. Some highlights from this year’s programme are included below, but for all the details, including the full conference schedule, you can click through below.

Our plenary speakers

Professor Shearer West

President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham

C.P. Snow’s influential Rede lecture of 1959, ‘The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution’ argued that the cultural divisions between humanities and science were preventing universities from effectively tackling the world’s problems. In this talk, I borrow from Snow’s precept but want to use his framework to describe what I see as the cultural divisions that have developed between academic and professional services staff. I would like to look at the history of why these divisions have occurred, the impact they have had on university success and effectiveness, and attempts to overcome the problems they have caused.

About Shearer
Shearer has held a number of significant leadership roles in universities and higher education, including Head of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Birmingham, Head of the Humanities Division at Oxford University and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield. She also spent four years as Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council where she chaired the Research Directors Group for Research Councils UK.

Alastair Campbell

Journalist, broadcaster, political aide and author

For ten years Alastair Campbell was Tony Blair’s right hand man as communications strategist and chief spokesman, often witnessing history in the making. He remains a key figure on the political stage, with considerable connections on both sides of the Atlantic.

As the most influential Government advisor Alastair was no stranger to controversy, working the headlines and occasionally making them. He is one of four credited with creating New Labour, fighting numerous battles in their pursuit of modernisation. He was reviled by parts of the media but still respected for his commitment, creativity, loyalty and work rate.

Since resigning Alastair has published three volumes of his diaries as well as other autobiographical books and novels, and written extensively on sport and politics. He is the Editor-at-Large of The New European, has advised several bodies and organisations and stepped up his fundraising efforts for Leukaemia Research (Alastair is chairman of fundraising for the charity). He’s also accompanied the British and Irish Lions on their tour of New Zealand.

Alastair’s speeches mix experience, behind-the-scene knowledge and wit to look at the big political stories domestic and foreign. He offers a sharply observed insight into what makes strong leaders and throws light on the relationship between government, and the press – including his treatment of the media. On a lighter note, he might also reveal how a stranger behaved towards him, on Hampstead Heath.

Our keynote speakers

Rachel Sandison

Vice-Principal, External Relations
University of Glasgow

Partnership has never been more important, or more required within the sector, as universities seek to engage with stakeholders to support institutional aims and ambitions against a backdrop of constant change and evolving business need.

This session will showcase the impact of the University of Glasgow’s strategic plan ‘Inspiring People, Changing the World 2015-2020’ and the successful initiatives that have delivered enhanced collaboration and engagement at both a civic and global level with partners that include local and national government, international universities, city-wide audiences, and our own community of students, staff and alumni.

Opportunities for working together will undoubtedly continue to increase within the sector – why does this matter and how can we all benefit?

About Rachel
Rachel Sandison is Vice Principal, External Relations at the University of Glasgow. Rachel’s responsibilities include strategic leadership for domestic and international student recruitment; marketing, brand and reputation; undergraduate and postgraduate admissions; international affairs and partnership development; fundraising & alumni relations; and widening participation.

Rachel is a chartered marketer and a CASE Global Trustee and Chairs the annual CASE Marketing Institute. She is a member of the Universities Marketing Forum, Universities Scotland International Committee and sits on a number of sector advisory boards. She is the University of Glasgow’s senior leader for the Universitas 21 network and The Guild of European Research Intensive Universities.

Anne-Marie Canning MBE

CEO, The Brilliant Club

Social mobility is high on the political agenda. Universities have the power to be agents of social mobility and this session builds the case for taking serious and strategic steps to use that power to create a better world around us. My keynote will offer an overview of key social mobility policies and developments in the world of education. We will explore innovative programmes and activities delivered by King’s College London in support of their aim to be the top university for social mobility by the time of their 200th birthday in 2029. Participants will come away challenged, informed and inspired to take action on the social justice issues that face the UK today.

About Anne-Marie
Anne-Marie Canning MBE is the Director of Social Mobility and Student Success at King’s College London. In this role she provides leadership and strategic direction for full lifecycle widening participation across the institution. In 2018 she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to higher education.

Anne-Marie is also the independent chair of the Department for Education led Bradford Opportunity Area. She is a member of the Universities UK Ministerial Social Mobility Advisory Group and has served as the elected Chair of the Russell Group Widening Participation Association.

Anne-Marie has previously worked at University College Oxford and holds a University of Oxford Teaching Award. She studied at the University of York and served a sabbatical term as the president of the students’ union. Anne-Marie is a trustee of the Bridge Group, a policy association researching and promoting socio-economic diversity and equality.

Zamzam Ibrahim

National President, National Union of Students

NUS is campaigning for an education system that is fully funded, lifelong, and accessible. In this keynote speech, Zamzam will reflect on the challenges facing higher education to achieve these goals across the UK and in the context of a new government in Westminster. She will discuss the specific priorities for students, and how institutions, students’ unions and students can work together in partnership to address these.

About Zamzam
Zamzam is the President of the National Union of Students (NUS) where she is elected to represent the views of learners across the UK. Along with student leaders in Students’ Unions across the country Zamzam works every day to campaign toward a free and funded education system. Prior to her current role Zamzam was NUS’ Vice President Society and Citizenship, and President of University of Salford Students’ Union.

Rosie Tressler

CEO, Student Minds

Student and staff mental health will continue to be a key topic for HE in 2020 and beyond. Drawing on Student Minds development process for the University Mental Health Charter, Rosie will explore how creating cultures where all members of our university communities can thrive is at the very core of this year’s conference theme.

About Rosie
Rosie is the CEO of Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity. Student Minds develops innovative approaches to support healthy university communities, collaborates on research, and empowers students, university professionals and connected communities to create change. Rosie has been working on the issue of student wellbeing for several years. She became the charity’s Chief Executive Officer in 2015, following a number of different roles at Student Minds managing volunteering, campaigns and university relationships, and she has been undertaking a Churchill Fellowship to explore preventative approaches to student mental health in Canada and Australia.  

Our panel debate

University regulation – can it ever be collaborative?

This house believes that the current regulatory regime is inimical to collaboration in the HE sector.”

Panel Chair

Dr Paul Greatrix, Registrar, University of Nottingham

Dr Paul Greatrix is Registrar at the University of Nottingham, a post he was appointed to in January 2007.

As Registrar he is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University. As well as being Secretary to the statutory bodies of the University and a member of Executive Board, the Registrar manages the provision of a broad range of professional services for prospective students, current students and staff.

Prior to joining the University of Nottingham he worked at the University of Warwick where he held six different posts before eventually being appointed Deputy Registrar. Before joining Warwick in 1998 he was at the University of East Anglia for six years, where he worked on quality matters, and Staffordshire University.

Paul read English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and holds a PhD from the School of Education at the University of East Anglia.

For the motion

Smita Jamdar, Relationship Partner, Shakespeare Martineau

Smita is Relationship Partner for Shakespeare Martineau’s education clients and advises on strategic, regulatory, constitutional, governance and student matters. Her approach is best summed up by Chambers & Partners: “She is very knowledgeable about the sector, very well informed about the challenges the sector faces, and insightful about how we could change and adapt.” Smita is a member of the Higher Education Commission and an enthusiastic contributor to sector debate through the firm’s education blog, Going Further & Higher and her Twitter feed. She has an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for services to higher education from the University of Warwick.

Dr John Hogan, Registrar, Newcastle University

Dr John Hogan is Registrar at Newcastle University where he is responsible for a number of key services. He is also responsible for University governance. He was previously Academic Registrar and then Registrar and Secretary at the University of Durham. He was awarded a DPhil in History from the University of Sussex and commenced his career in higher education management at the University of Warwick, where he held various posts including working in the International Office and Graduate School. Dr Hogan is a member of Association of University Administrators. He is on the Executive of the Association of Heads of University Administration and is a member of the Employers’ Pension Forum.

Against the motion

Jackie Njoroge, Director of Strategy, University of Salford

Jackie joined the University of Salford in 2016 as its first Director of Strategy. Prior to this, she led the Strategic Planning and Management Information team within MMU, with a mandate to help change the strategic planning direction of the University.

A qualified management accountant, Jackie had a career in financial planning and management within the steel industry, before moving into Higher Education in 2003, where she eventually moved into Strategic Planning and Performance, successfully leading the team to an industry award for the implementation of Northumbria’s business intelligence solution. Jackie is also Deputy Chair of the Higher Education Strategic Planning Association.

Aaron Porter, Associate Director (Governance), Advance HE

Aaron Porter has a portfolio of roles across the higher education sector. He is the Associate Director (Governance) for Advance HE, leading an annual development programme for around 800 higher education governors. He is also the non-executive chair of BPP University, on the council of Goldsmiths University of London and non-executive chair of a specialist higher education provider in East London.

A previous President of the National Union of Students, he has served on a range of sector boards including UCAS, HEFCE and the OIA. He was on the Council of the University of Leicester during his time as President of the students’ union. Outside of higher education he is a governor of a primary and secondary school where he grew up in Croydon, and serves on the statutory education committee of the General Chiropractic Council.

Our working sessions

Around our ‘Collaborating for Success’ theme 60 working sessions have been developed by the AUA community. All the sessions map to the AUA CPD framework and have been created with your learning and professional development needs in mind.

Conference packages

All prices include VAT. Non-member full package includes 12 months AUA membership.
The Gala Dinner will be held onsite at the EMCC.

Full package
Member £504 | Non members £672
All full packages include attendance at the gala dinner

Monday only delegate
Member £342 | Non members £456

Tuesday only delegate
Member £342 | Non members £456

Gala dinner
Member £112.50 | Non members £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.

Sunday networking

Start your AUA Conference off in style…

We’re delighted to announce that the Sunday networking event for #AUA2020 is going to be at Mooch Student Union bar located at the University of Nottingham campus.

Following feedback, this year we’ve made the Sunday networking event as affordable as possible, but without skimping on the content.  We start with a wine reception, followed by a short walk around Nottingham’s beautiful Highfields Lake (weather dependent), then we are welcomed back to Mooch for a pizza buffet and the traditional AUA Quiz, hosted by University of Nottingham.


AUA Members | £17.50+VAT (£21 inc vat)
Non Members | £25+VAT (£30 inc vat)


We’ve partnered with Nottingham Conferences to secure a variety of accommodation options on campus to suit your budget and preference.  Accommodation is not included in your conference packages and please book early to avoid disappointment.

Rutland Hall – Halls of Residence

Located a short 5 minute walk away from the actual conference venue, these cheap and cheerful en-suite rooms are charged at £65 (inc vat) per night which includes breakfast served from 7.00 to 8.30am. Available to book on Sunday 5 and Monday 6 April 2020 should you require a one or two night stay.

To book please input code AUA2020 then select the date(s) you require using the link to Nottingham Conferences.

The Orchard Hotel

This 4 star hotel is located opposite the conference venue, with rooms charged at £99 (inc vat) per night which includes breakfast.

To book please contact the Orchard Hotel Reservations team via Please address your email to Agne from their in-house reservations team who is our dedicated reservations agent quoting the conference name: AUA 2020 Conference and Exhibition 2020.

Please note that all bookings are made directly with either The University of Nottingham or the De Vere and are bound by their term and conditions. AUA cannot accept responsibility for any room bookings so please contact The University of Nottingham or the De Vere directly should you have any queries.

Our sponsors and exhibitors

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?

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