Skip to main content
A group of professionals networking at a conference

Governance Conference 2022 - Governing in the interest of students

With increasing pressures and demands facing higher education institutions and governors, it is important to understand how boards govern in the interests of students to make the biggest impact on their experiences, support student wellbeing in a post-Pandemic environment and enable them to achieve successful outcomes. 

This year's Governance Conference was face to face for the first time since 2019, and offered a diverse range of speakers providing multiple perspectives on how boards can ensure they govern in the interests of students along with a valuable opportunity to network with others and share good practice.

Who was this conference for?

All Chairs, governors, senior staff and governance professionals were invited to attend. Now in its fifth year, this was the must-attend and only annual event on HE governance which brings together the full range of perspectives.

Download programme

Download Resource

Governance Conference Programme

Download

Conference themes

The conference addressed the following key themes:

Quality and Data

Boards need to seek assurance that the data they are receiving enables them to hold the institution accountable. There are increasing specific duties for boards to seek academic assurance at a course-based level and have effective mechanisms in place to ensure effective academic governance arrangements are in place. Boards also need to question what data they are getting and if this provides information to the whole picture, going beyond existing datasets and exploring key themes such as student and staff wellbeing.

Supporting Student Governors and Working with SU’s 

The role of student governor can present many challenges in being fully integrated into the board in a short timeframe, with the same responsibilities as other members of the board while often balancing this with being an elected officer in the students’ union. The board also has a responsibility under the Education Act 1994 to ensure that the students’ union operates in a fair and democratic manner. There is a need to ensure that a healthy relationship underpins this to support good governance arrangements between separate organisations going beyond the role of the Student Governors.

Good Relations on Campus to Support Free Speech 

Universities have a long track record of championing free speech, rigorous debate and academic freedom. This has come under greater scrutiny in recent years, as the obligations around protecting and upholding freedom of speech and fostering good relations between different groups can sometimes seem to compete. However, both are core to the values and success of the higher education sector, and integral to the activity of governing bodies.

Red line 3px

This was an excellent conference with interesting speakers, the sessions very were well facilitated by Advance HE staff and the technology worked smoothly!

John Smith,
Member of Council
Buckinghamshire New University

Red line 3px

On the day

Welcome address

Andy Shenstone

Executive Director of Consultancy and Commercial Solutions
,
Advance HE
Andy Shenstone
Andy offers a deep understanding and experience of UK and international HE policy, governance and management. He is Advance HE’s Director of Business Development and Delivery, and an experienced Higher Education (HE) consultant with 20 years’ track record of successfully working with Universities, sector agencies and Ministries in the UK and overseas.

Janet Legrand

Senior Lay Member of Court
,
University of Edinburgh
Janet Legrand
Janet is the Senior Lay Member of Court at the University of Edinburgh, Chair of the Board of The Children’s Society, a member of the advisory panel of IntoUniversity and a member of the Board at Advance HE.
Red line 3px

Keynote from Rob Behrens: Chairing a Board - working in partnership

Rob Behrens

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
,
University College London
Rob Behrens
Rob Behrens is Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman in the UK, a Crown Appointment held since 2017. Educated at Nottingham and Exeter Universities, he has been an academic (he is currently a visiting professor at University College London), senior civil servant, and Ombudsman.

Aaron Porter

Associate Director (Governance)
,
Advance HE
AP
Aaron leads on Advance HE governance activity through the delivery of our national Governor Development Programme which engages with around 900 governors across the UK on an annual basis. He has extensive experience leading reviews of over 25 governing boards. Aaron was previously President of the National Union of Students (NUS) and also chair of trustees for the organisation.
Red line 3px

Panel Session: Expectations and aspirations – how does data, metrics and evidence enable the Board

Chair: Kim Ansell, Assistant Director Governance (Interim), Advance HE

Governing bodies and senior executive teams are currently grappling with data, metrics and evidence in profusion. While the OfS plans and implements a step change in what it measures for ongoing registration in relation to student outcomes, Universities UK publishes a paper on assessing quality and the REF results and evaluations are announced.  Institutions continue to provide data to HESA who aspire to “enhancing the competitive strength of the sector”.

What do governing bodies really need to inform and influence decision making? How can they make sense of  performance and conformance, in relation to the strategy, risk and external assurance for which the governing body has oversight?

Kim Ansell

Senior Adviser and Managing Consultant
,
Advance HE
Kim Ansell
She has worked across higher and professional education providing support to groups at all levels including senior leadership teams and Boards, to facilitate change, strategic thinking, planning and performance improvement. Kim has recently led the Advance HE membership themed month on the topic of Transforming Organisations from student to board. 

Andy Youell

Executive Director – Regulation, UCEM
 Andy Youell
Andy has spent over three decades working with HE data and systems, including spells at HEFCE, HESA and working as a consultant with HE providers, government bodies and technology companies across the world. He is a speaker and writer on data issues and in 2020 was appointed to the review of the exam grades controversy that was commissioned by the Welsh Government.

Alison Allden

Deputy Chair of Regent’s University Ltd London
Alison Allden
Since retiring as Chief Executive Officer of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Alison has developed a non-executive portfolio and consultancy career. She is Deputy Chair of Regent’s University Ltd London. She also is a member of the UK Board of Study Group and the Bar Standards Board, responsible for the regulation of barristers. Previously she was member of the Board of Northumbria University and chaired a board committee concerned with metrics and strategic performance.

Shabana Akhtar

Associate Director - Strategic Planning and Business Intelligence, University of London
,
University of London
Shabana Akhtar
Shabana has over 18 years of experience in higher education. At the University of London, her team are responsible for ensuring the robustness of data quality and reporting; the development, prototyping and embedding of data visualisation tools and techniques; and the delivery of a suite of organisational performance measures to provide direction on academic, operational and strategic planning at a truly global scale. She considers her role pivotal in driving an organisational culture of performance optimisation and evidence-based decision making.

Red line 3px

An inspiring and wide-ranging set of speakers on both pertinent and important topics

Dr Lisa Keay,
Head of Governance,
South Devon College

Red line 3px

Keynote Conversation: Insights from Advance HE Surveys and Research

Dan Tinkler, Advance HE’s Governance Development Manager was in conversation with Jonathan Neves, Advance HE’s Head of Business Intelligence and Surveys to look at what boards and governance professionals can learn from Advance HE’s sector leading research about the wider student experience. Focusing on findings from the Advance HE-HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey, and also covering the UK Engagement Survey and  Postgraduate Taught and Research Experience Surveys, this session explored key trends and findings about what students at all levels are telling us about their key priorities and challenges. This session provided a chance to ask questions regarding Advance HE’s Surveys and research and help boards consider what information they receive about their students in relation to UK wide findings.  

Speakers:

Jonathan Neves

Head of Business Intelligence & Surveys
,
Advance HE
Jonathan-Neves
Jonathan joined Advance HE in 2015, bringing with him 16 years’ experience in customer insight and market research. Jonathan graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Geography, and is a full member of the Market Research Society. Heading up the insights and student surveys portfolio at Advance HE, Jonathan is co-author of the Advance HE-HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey report, and is responsible for the overall strategy for the UK Engagement Survey as well as the Postgraduate Taught and Research Experience Surveys (PTES and PRES). Jonathan has also worked across the sector collaborating on the use of the UK Engagement Survey within Learning Gain pilots.

Dan Tinkler

Governance Development Manager
,
Advance HE
Dan Tinkler
Dan joined Advance HE in January 2020 and has been in the post of Governance Development Manager since October 2021. Dan works on developing our approach to supporting Advance HE’s member needs across our governance portfolio of work. He has also undertaken governance effectiveness reviews leading projects with students’ unions. Prior to this he worked with supporting leaders in college HE, independent providers and specialist institutions.
Red line 3px

Panel Session: The role of the Student Governor and Working with the Students' Union

Chair: Miguel Gonzales-Valdes Tejero, Education Officer, University of Manchester Students' Union

This panel session explored both the role of the Student Governor and the relationship between the Board and the Students' Union. As Boards work to ensure they govern in the interests of students the role of Student Governor is crucial in providing lived student experience, it is important to ensure that Student Governors are equipped are empowered to succeed. Under the Education Act 1994 the board of the institution has a statutory requirement to ensure that the Students' Union “operates in a fair and democratic manner and is accountable for it’s finances”, however it is vital to understand what this looks like as good practice and how to build a relationship at Board to Board level where partnership develops between both organisations to deliver high quality student outcomes.

This panel was chaired by a student member of Advance HE’s Governance Strategic Advisory Group and brought together a range of sector expertise including recent student governors and elected SU officers, a Students' Union CEO and University leadership to challenge how best to support and develop the role of the Student Governor and working with the Students' Union.

Miguel González-Valdés Tejero

Biomedical Science student
,
University of Manchester
Miguel González-Valdés Tejero
Miguel González-Valdés Tejero is a Biomedical Science student at the University of Manchester. Miguel was elected to the role of Education Officer at university of Manchester Students’ Union for 2021-22. In addition to being Education Officer Miguel was also trustee at Manchester SU. He was appointed as one of the student members of Advance HE’s Governance Strategic Advisory Group in 2022-23.

Janine Braithwaite

Study Support Advisor
,
University of West London
Janine Braithwaite
Janine started her journey in higher education back in 2015 as a mature student at the University of West London (UWL). Whilst elected as Vice President of Education for two years running, she facilitated BAME women in leadership sessions, focused on student financial hardships, made links with local childcare providers to support student parents/carers, had many public speaking opportunities including becoming the first student ever speak at UWL graduation ceremony and much so more.

Ben Vulliamy

CEO, University of York Students' Union
,
University of York
Ben Vulliamy
Ben recently celebrated 10 years as the Chief Executive at the University of York Students' Union working with elected officers, career and student staff to deliver a range of student venues and events, student support services, one of the largest portfolios of student activities in the UK and a program of representation, campaigning and influencing. He is currently studying for a masters in voluntary sector leadership and administration with the Centre for Charity Effectiveness at City University London, is a trustee at York CVS and has a garden with a range of fruit and vegetables which he has tended with varying states of success.

Shân Wareing

Deputy Vice Chancellor
,
University of Northampton
Shân Wareing
Shân is Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Northampton. She’s passionate about teaching and education, and is National Teaching Fellow. She has been in university leadership for over 20 years, in roles that have involved designing and delivering academic staff development, leading digitally enabled whole institution organisational change, converting face to face programmes to online distance learning, restructuring IT and HR departments, redesigning policies and practices in assessment, student complaints and timetabling, and developed Education Strategies in five universities. Shân is a regularly invited speaker for conferences and policy think tanks, particularly in the areas of digital transformation, gender and leadership, equality, diversity and inclusivity, and university strategy. She enjoys contributing to national debates via blogging; two of her blogs have won national awards.

Melody Stephen

General Secretary of the Student Union
,
University of Manchester
Melody Stephen
Melody is a Law with International Studies student at the University of Manchester. Melody was General Secretary of University of Manchester Students’ Union for 2021-22 where she was also Cahir of the Board of Trustees. As part of her role as General Secretary Melody was a Student Governor at the University of Manchester. She has since been appointed to Advance HE’s Governance Strategic Advisory and recently the UCAS Board of Trustees.
Red line 3px

We are all passionate advocates in Advancing the HE sector, by sharing leading practices and thought leadership, together we can make a difference for our students and staff

Amanda Clack,
Chair of the Board,
UCEM

Red line 3px

Keynote from Rae Tooth: Social justice, quality and the student experience: The pivotal role boards play in achieving ‘human first' learning communities that are engaged and engaging

Chair: Aaron Porter

Rae Tooth

Founder and CEO, Inclusion Revolution
Rae Tooth
Rae Tooth is an independent coach and consultant and brings experience in higher education policy in particular around improving access, progression, and success for socially disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. She is an expert in effective evaluation of practice and outcomes, and in bringing together practice, policy, and academic discourse in relation to social justice.

Aaron Porter

Associate Director (Governance)
,
Advance HE
AP
Aaron leads on Advance HE governance activity through the delivery of our national Governor Development Programme which engages with around 900 governors across the UK on an annual basis. He has extensive experience leading reviews of over 25 governing boards. Aaron was previously President of the National Union of Students (NUS) and also chair of trustees for the organisation.
Red line 3px

Panel Session: Assuring freedom of speech and good campus relations for all

Chair: David Bass, Assistant Director, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Advance HE

This panel session explored the practical ways that Boards can assure freedom of speech and good campus relations in the context of Advance HE, UUK and GuildHE’s work to develop a statement of intent. With the issue very much in the eye of government and the press, and the Freedom of Speech Bill looming, what are the sensible steps governing bodies can take to demonstrate action on this matter, with appropriate evidence from governance and assurance systems and practice? Our panel brought together the legal, practical and policy perspectives on the topic to help navigate the landscape and provide assurance to, and for, all.

David Bass

Assistant Director, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
,
Advance HE
David Bass
David leads the strategic development, planning and delivery of Advance HE’s programme for universities and colleges in Scotland. He brings a wealth of experience working with the Scottish sector, in governance as well as strategic planning and management, SFC Outcome Agreements, and equality and diversity.

Smita Jamdar

Partner & Head of Education Shakespeare Martineau
Smita Jamdar
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 Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees for services to higher education from the Universities of Warwick and Lincoln.

Dr Adam Dawkins

University Secretary at the University of York
,
University of York
Dr Adam Dawkins
Dr Adam Dawkins is University Secretary at the University of York, and has previously held senior governance roles since 2008 at Northumbria University, Newcastle and Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL), having worked in the HE sector since first graduating in 1997.

Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods

Chair of the Board at Northumbria University
,
Northumbria University
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods
Dr Roberta Blackman-Woods stepped down as a Member of Parliament, having been the MP for the City of Durham from 2005-2019. During her time in parliament Roberta served as a Deputy Minister in the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, where she was involved in shaping higher education policy. From 2011-2019 she was the Shadow Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government.
Red line 3px

Keynote - Navigating the economic and political context: implications for institutional decision makers in higher education

Higher education institutions find themselves in the middle of a complex and fast moving political and economic environment which is impacting strategic decision and the student experience.  

Inflation, cost of living increases, rising energy costs, impeding industrial action, regulatory change, the rapidly diminishing value of the undergraduate tuition fee and dependencies upon international students- just some of the pressures facing Higher Education institutions as we emerge from a period of unparalleled political turmoil.

This was an interactive session that provided an opportunity for discussion between delegates and speakers focusing on the role that Boards and their systems of governance need to fulfil.

Andy Shenstone

Executive Director of Consultancy and Commercial Solutions
,
Advance HE
Andy Shenstone
Andy offers a deep understanding and experience of UK and international HE policy, governance and management. He is Advance HE’s Director of Business Development and Delivery, and an experienced Higher Education (HE) consultant with 20 years’ track record of successfully working with Universities, sector agencies and Ministries in the UK and overseas.

Martha Longdon

Chair
,
Office for Students (OfS)
Martha Longdon
Martha is Chair of the Office for Students’ Student Panel, a role she has held since 2019. In September 2021, Martha was reappointed to the OfS Board for 15 months from 1 October 2021 to 31 December 2022.
Red line 3px

Closing remarks 

Aaron Porter

Associate Director (Governance)
,
Advance HE
AP
Aaron leads on Advance HE governance activity through the delivery of our national Governor Development Programme which engages with around 900 governors across the UK on an annual basis. He has extensive experience leading reviews of over 25 governing boards. Aaron was previously President of the National Union of Students (NUS) and also chair of trustees for the organisation.
Red line 3px

Thought provoking speakers and practical advice is a hallmark of Advance HE events

John Bateman,
Chair,
University of Worcester

Overall a great event and very thought provoking

Martin Chambers,
Deputy Chair of Board of Governors,
University of Wolverhampton

Red line 3px

Related content