Managing Change in Higher Education Annual Open Forum 2020

Venue: Northampton Square | City, University of London

Fees: AUA Member £100 +VAT | Non-member £200 +VAT

Date: 03/07/2020

About this Event

This event has been postponed and bookings have temporarily closed. New details to follow in due course.

The Managing Change in Higher Education themed network is hosting its 11th Annual Open Forum for those AUA members (and non-members) interested in improving practice on managing change in higher education. There will be an opportunity to share good and bad practice, network, and consider how to work more collaboratively.

Who is it for?

For professionals who manage, or aspire to manage projects and change as part of your role, or for managers and leaders who are managing teams/departments currently going through change, and professionals experiencing change in the workplace.

Learning outcomes

  • Understand the importance of change management in project management
  • Practical ideas and techniques for supporting people through significant cultural change
  • Managing expectations
  • New strategies for managing change

Details in brief

Location: City, University of London

Date: 03/07/2020

Start time: 09:30

End time: 15:30

Fees: Member £100 +VAT | Non-member £200 +VAT


As with previous Open Forums the programme has been designed to improve professional practice in the sector and provide an opportunity for colleagues to learn from practice.

To view a top level agenda, please use this link.

Our keynote speaker

Sophie Bowen

COO, Middlesex University

Delivering change through interesting times

2020 promises to demand much from professional services colleagues. The role of universities, how they are funded and what they do continues to be questioned and navigating this complex external environment and understanding the implications for what we do presents challenges. Sophie will provide an overview of some of the coming challenges and opportunities for the sector and outline some of the lessons she has learned from managing change across three very different institutions.

About Sophie

Sophie Bowen joined Middlesex University in 2016. Prior to this, she worked at St George’s University of London as University Secretary and Director of Academic Administration and Quality, and also held a variety of roles at the University of Birmingham including Director of Student Services. Sophie graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA and MPhil and has an MBA from the Open University.

At Middlesex, Sophie is responsible for the management and leadership of the Planning Unit, Academic Registry, Computing and Communications Systems Services (CCSS), Student and Legal Affairs and Governance. With interim measures in place pending the appointment of the new Vice-Chancellor, Sophie is also responsible for Estates and Facilities Management and the Project Management Office and had previously led Human Resources and the Business Enhancement Unit.

Sophie is Honorary Treasurer and Chair of the Development Committee of the Association of Heads of University Administration and a Director of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Working session 1

The University Of Nottingham has recently finished implementing Campus Solutions 9.0 across three campuses. During the implementation the University has been required to work closely across multiple departments and with a strategic partner to ensure that end users were supported through this period. This session will focus on how the Student Services department consisting of approx. 400 colleagues, led on establishing new support processes during this time of huge change.

Luke Phillimore, Senior Lean Practitioner, University of Nottingham

Luke is currently the Continual Improvement Manager for Processes and Systems within the Service Quality Team, which is part of the Student Services department at the University Of Nottingham. However in February 2020 he will moving on to a new role as a Senior Lean Practitioner within the Getting in Shape Team. This is a newly formed team has been created to identify areas where the University can work smarter, improving our services to students and other stakeholders.

Most recently Luke has been involved in implementing a new ERP at the University, providing Go Live Support to the Student Services Department since January 2019.

Since August 2016 Luke has been working in Student Services following the creation of the department as a result of restructuring the student administration functions within the University. During this time, he has been responsible for implementing change across the department as new processes have needed to be created and old processes reviewed.

Prior to this, Luke worked as a Student Administration Manager within the Academic Services Department taking a lead on PGR matters including operational management of PGR administration and offering regulatory advice and guidance.

Before joining the University of Nottingham in 2012, Luke worked as a systems trainer at Nottingham Trent University, running training courses on their student database, CRM system and timetabling system.

Luke’s professional interests are promoting continuous improvement thinking throughout the institution, challenging the status quo whilst also managing ongoing change.

Luke is actively involved in the AUA as a local advocate and has recently completed the PGCert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership.

Luke’s personal interests include cycling, cheese, getting wet at his allotment and being a happy father of 2.

In 2018/19, we set about radically re-writing our Quality Management Framework (QMF) at Bath Spa University. In conjunction with a parallel review of academic governance structures, this revision to the QMF considered the external environment, concluding that structures and practices within the University should move away from a focus on auditable process to an outcomes-based approach. Our aim was a new framework that would be more flexible, risk-based and metricsdriven. It would need to operate in a significantly more streamlined committee structure using early warning mechanisms and greater individual accountability.

At the same time, there was an internal restructure taking place which had considerable implications for how professional services and academic areas worked together. This added varying degrees of uncertainty around posts, postholders and their backgrounds, including the future of our own department.

Working together, with each of the presenters leading one strand of the work (quality management of internal provision, quality management of collaborative provision and academic governance), we developed and delivered the framework and mechanism for a completely new way of operating.

This is the story of what we did, how we did it and – by the time of the Forum – reflections on the first year of operation.

Laura Porter, Head of Academic Governance and Policy, Bath Spa University

Laura has acquired a range of experience in the HE and wider education sector with a particular focus on policy, regulations and quality and process enhancement. Laura is currently Head of Academic Governance and Policy at Bath Spa University and has held roles at Qualifications Wales as Head of Strategic Policy, Cranfield University as Assistant Registrar (Student Policy Manager), Bristol University as Assistant Director of Student Administration, as well as quality and student representation support roles at University of Wales, Newport and University of the West of England Students’ Union. Laura is currently a GuildHE representative on the QAA Membership Advisory Group and has been a nominated member of the HEFCW Quality Assessment Committee since its creation in 2015. Laura was involved in a number of QAA reading and writing groups following the revision of the UK Quality Code Advice and Guidance and participates in professional networks including AUA, ARC and QSN.

Matthew Holt, Academic Governance and Policy Manager, Bath Spa University

Matthew has developed his career in UK HE over the last 12 years, and is currently Academic Governance and Policy Manager at Bath Spa University. His first role at the University of Bristol was the coordination and management of admissions onto the Medicine programme. From there he moved into the academic quality team, developing expertise in external examining, as well as undertaking ongoing quality management processes. Matthew moved to Bath Spa University in 2015, initially as a Quality Assurance Officer, but then took on the role of Quality Assurance Manager (Collaborative Provision) where he developed his interest in academic partnerships, working with Bath Spa University’s range of partners both in the UK and overseas, including Spain, China, Ras Al Khaimah, and Singapore. Sector engagement includes the Quality Strategy Network, ARC Quality Practitioners Group and the Council of Validating Universities, and he established a local quality practitioners group between Bath Spa, Bristol, Bath and UWE.

Demelza Curnow, formerly Head of Academic Governance and Quality at BSU, formerly Bath Spa University (now at Exeter University)

Demelza has held a number of positions in higher education, primarily focusing on the areas of academic quality management, regulations and governance. The institutions at which she has held substantive posts are Exeter (2019- present), Bath Spa (2012-19), Oxford (2011-12) and Falmouth (2006-11). She has sat as an external on committees at a number of other higher education providers across England and Wales and is currently an external examiner for Solent. Engagement in professional networks has included the Quality Strategy Network, various QAA consultation groups and the ARC Quality Practitioners Group, as well as the AUA. Demelza was also a QAA reviewer and has acted as an “international expert” for the SKVC in Lithuania.

Open to Change started as a Higher Education Innovation Funded (HEIF) project to look at our approaches to projects and change create something different; something better suited to our cultures, experiences and expectations. It was driven by the desire for time to stop and think about the way we want to change as a University and sector. We are a motley crew of academics, change managers, project managers, consultants, professionals and a few mates. What connects us is the ambition to deliver change in the way we think it should be done: together. Let’s Change Change is our mission and your call to action.

We’ll kick off the session with the Lets change change: the game to build some curiosity around change and then we’ll explore how we all experience change differently and that’s no different for those leading the change. We’ll use bridges transition model to explore how our journey through change, changes. You’ll leave the session with actionable takeaways to keep you moving to where you need to be for your self and for those you lead.

Susie Palmer-Trew, Director, Change and Improvement, The Open University

Susie is often described as a change-shaker, challenging the status quo to make change, better for us as individuals and as Universities. Susie has stories, experience and skin in the game to get change right, first time (or to learn really quickly and get it right on the second attempt). with over 10 years in HE and change and the lead of the Let’s Change Change movement, Susie has both great experience, overwhelming passion and an unrivalled optimism that change can be and should be positive, both in outcome and experience.

Mega keen first time author. Genuinely really good at leading, landing and managing change, but without bravado and consultancy bull.

Working Session 2

This is an interactive session where delegates will be invited to analyse the level of change maturity within their University and actions required to raise their maturity or – share their best practice with other delegates if they have reached the highest level. Described as ‘Ad hoc, ‘Managed’ and ‘Strategic’ levels, the session is centred around a ‘Change Maturity Matrix’ developed to aid SUMS Consulting and member Universities in scoping support required when commencing Change Management Projects.

The model is based on understanding the ‘What’ not ‘How’ – based on barriers to change and weaknesses identified by the SUMS Change Community of Practice; and in recognition that individual institutions will adopt different approaches (the ‘How’) based on their current needs and culture.

The model seeks to explore areas where there is potential for development – where there are clear actions required to move from one level to another.

Fola Ikpehai, Principal Consultant, SUMS Consulting

Fola specialises in process improvement, organisational and business change, training development and delivery, programme and project management, and leadership. She combines her expertise as a coach and mentor with strong analytical skills and a practical understanding of the challenges of implementing benefits-led change in complex organisations.

Fola joined SUMS Consulting in 2018 following a varied career in academics and research, local government, management consultancy and transformational change.

Fola has a Doctorate in Cellular Parasitology (a biomedical science), as well as professional training in project and programme management, training and development, and business and financial management.

We recently migrated all of our student enquiries to an enquiry form and CRM as well as automating some of our services. At first we thought that this would just be a transfer of technology but soon realised that there were many other aspects to
consider. For the first time ever:

• our staff are able to see a student’s query in a holistic context rather than an isolated one so we need to think about the advantages and disadvantages of this and how this will change the student experience as well as our performance;

• we have technology that allows students to access information and services more easily 24 hours a day, seven days a week but need to ensure that the human aspect is not completely lost;

• we have an incredible amount of data regarding what students are enquiring about but need to think about how to use this to improve our communications, engagement and services;

• we have data on exactly how many responses each member of staff is dealing with as well as their average response times and need to consider how this data should be used in the management of staff performance.

The next stage of this project is to move our Change of Circumstance processes online. This will be the first of many ‘submit a form, pass it around electronically for approvals and conclude with a decision’ processes that we will be introducing. As these processes will involve the academic community rather than just SSC staff, it is critically important that we get both the processes and engagement spot-on.

In conclusion we have found that using this new technology fundamentally changes the way in which people need consider their approach to work and the behaviours that underpin it.

Michele Sahrle, Deputy Head of Student Services, LSE

Michele started her career in higher education at Colorado State University before arranging and then making the move with an esteemed research group to Imperial College London. After 15 years at Imperial, Michele set up and managed the London campus of UEA where their International Business Management programme was voted number one in the NSS. Since starting at LSE in 2015 Michele has worked in the roles of Service Delivery Manager and Department Manager, Operations and Personnel for the Law Department and Project Manager for the School-wide, HEFCE funded Changing the Culture project for the Directorate. In November 2018 Michele took on the role of Deputy Head of Student Services at LSE and has spent the past year leading the operations within the Student Services. During this time the School and Student Services have embarked on a series of major innovations in order to improve the student experience such as the introduction of in-year resits, exam process improvements and moving all student enquiries onto a CRM system. Michele has been highly involved with six major development projects within the School in the past year and has just recently taken on the role of Project Executive for the Ancillary Programmes Process Improvement project which will have its official kick-off early in the new year. Michele is interested in learning contemporary ways of managing change through exchanging ideas and experiences with others that are working in this area.

Change projects rarely go exactly to plan, and the bigger they are, the more things can go wrong. In this session I will draw on the experience of managing major change projects within an HE setting to outline the benefits of taking a collaborative, usercentred approach to planning and design. I will demonstrate why a failure to account for the emotional and psychological impact of change is often at the root of failed change initiatives. And through a number of case studies I will explore why a truly inclusive design process, which actively seeks user engagement from start to finish, not only improves the final outcomes, but can help increase the resilience of projects to unexpected events which have the potential to derail them.

I will give examples of some of the real life lessons learned, to highlight both the short term challenges and long term benefits of taking a ‘co-design’ approach to projects.

Tom West, Strategic Project Manager – Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Liverpool

Tom has been involved in managing change at both an operational and a strategic level within the HE sector for the last 15 years. He started his career providing project management for research projects before moving into a management role as Head of Operations for a large research and teaching Institute. In this role he lead teams across multiple locations and disciplines to support fundamental scientists and academic clinicians carrying out translational work across both human and veterinary fields. He was responsible for the user-design and delivery of a new £40m purpose built research facility and was recently seconded to lead a Faculty-wide strategic change project to develop a new strategy and underpinning structure for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

In addition to his other roles Tom helped lead the University’s first successful Athena SWAN application in 2014 and was a member of the national review panel. Tom is interested in a interplay between human behaviour and change theory and the role that cognitive bias can play in subverting the change agenda, particularly in the HE sector, and strategies to mitigate this.

What have we achieved and what is still to be delivered …..

In 2018 a presentation was given at the AUA Managing Change Open Forum on the progress of the programme of change.

See where we have got to since last year’s forum!

The presenter provided background on the project to the AUA Change Forum in 2018 and a more detailed outline of progress after 7 months of the programme running in 2019.

The presentation will outline progress since June 2019 and discuss lessons learned, how the programme has been tailored to the fit the full range of professional services Directorates. Other change projects will also be discussed e.g. new ERP system, Enhanced Online Collaboration and a new VLE.

Phil Rowsby, Project Manager, Heriot-Watt University

Phil’s association with Heriot-Watt University goes back to 1993 (as an undergraduate) and the early 2000s as a research student.

With a varied work history – not in the HE sector – Phil has worked in residential lettings, for local authorities, for private landlord organisations, the charity sector and at the Scottish Qualifications Authority. In HE since October 2016 – Phil was Research Quality Enhancement Officer at Heriot-Watt University – the main aspects of the role being: PGR student experience, clerk to the primary Senate Committee for Research and Innovation, establishing a new Research Degrees Committee and project managing a restructure of research support across the University. Since December 2018 Phil has been seconded as a Project Manager into the Change Programme Team and is project managing the changes in 5 of the 10 Professional Services Directorates.

Working Session 3

49% of respondents said that over half the resistance of managers to projects was avoidable (PROSCI 2018)

Universities are struggling to deliver the change needed by our sector’s environment, even more are struggling to keep staff engaged and positive through the process. Increasingly, professional change management is being applied in our sector, but most institutions are early into developing the maturity needed. And many are having to learn while delivering large complex projects at the same time. Because of the pace and complexity projects need to deliver at, I’ve seen some common issues ultimately endangering a successful delivery. Taking some real-life case-studies, I’ll demonstrate how to avoid some of the most common issues and red flags to look out for on your project.

Hannah White, Senior Business Change Manager, University of Manchester

Hannah joined the PMO in March 2019 and is currently working to ensure alignment across the Student Lifecyle and Student Experience projects. She has a broad range of qualifications and experience in change methodologies including Business Analysis, Project Management, Process Improvement and Change Management. She is also a qualified coach, with vast experience in training and facilitation.

Previously Head of Business Change for “Programme Administration Change Transformation” at King’s College London. Hannah has worked for more than a decade in Higher Education and transformation roles, delivering a wide range of successful student experience and education strategy projects in multiple institutions, involving system, process and ways of working.

Change is a common factor in life that is met in a variety of ways. Some changes are perceived as normal and typical – such as redecorating a room. And other changes may be seen as negative – such as a University restructure. This workshop explores the concepts of perceived change, positive and negative and how it is applied to an individual’s assumptions. Hands on activities will explore how common requirements for change can be perceived in entirely different ways by the participants. The workshop will then explore how to manage change through mixed perceptions and messages to provide common ground to effect uniform change that provides a uniform message and outcome.

Greg Sheridan, Programme Implementation Manager, University of the West of Scotland

Greg Sheridan is an HE sector project manager with over 10 years’ experience in the UK and USA. He is a member of AUA and the Institute for Leadership and Management and a certified Prince2 and Prince2Aigle project manager. His experiences focus on implementing complex customer service oriented projects in Universities. Past projects include Student HUB desks, centralization of university timetables, Learner Analytic implementation, design of new university buildings, business change and technology implementation projects.

This session will focus on how to ensure that the ‘international office’ is fit for purpose (and how it might be changed if it is not).

David Law, Honorary Professor, Keele University

Professor Law has had responsibility for international engagement at three universities and has provided related consultancy services at several others. He has worked in the HE sector for fifty years and has edited the AUA’s quarterly journal since 2012.

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