Introduction to Higher Education

Innside Hotel, Manchester

Thursday 4 June 2020

09:30 to 16:40

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Thursday, 4 June 2020 | 9:30 to 16:40 | Manchester
Member: £100 +VAT | Non member: £200 +VAT

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The details

Higher education today is evolving at an unprecedented rate. Keeping up with the changes is almost a full time job, but engaging with the wider context and understanding the bigger picture is important if you are going to maximise the contribution you make to your organisation. This introduction to the UK higher education provides you with a thorough overview of the sector. A brief look back at the historical developments lays the foundation on which to explore the more recent changes and the current influences and their impact. There is a strong emphasis on understanding how political, economic, social and academic considerations impact higher education, and you will be encouraged to reflect on how your own role and institution contributes to, and is influenced by, these external factors.

Who is it for?

This event is essential for all HE professionals. As a new entrant to the sector you will gain a thorough introduction to HE and as a current HE professionals you will deepen your knowledge allowing you to move your career forward.

What will I learn?

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)

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, 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

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

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

Idea of the University Balloon Debate

  • This final session will be highly interactive, with delegates debating and comparing. Instructions for the balloon debate will be sent to you closer to the event.


It was really interesting learning more about the past and present state of HE in the UK. The sessions were informative and interactive, which allowed for good networking opportunities with fellow professionals from other departments and universities.

Departmental Admin Assistant

A wonderful event for anyone working in HEIs with a lot of information to expand your knowledge of the sector and your own personal development as a professional. As well as an amazing networking opportunity.

Administrative Officer

Fun and informative event led by knowledgeable and engaging speakers. Some new learnings and some reassurance that I knew more than I thought I did!

Assistant Registrar (Governance)