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Governance Conference 2023: Governance Culture: Navigating policy, politics and people

Advance HE's Governance Conference returns for 2023. This year’s conference theme is “Governance Culture: Navigating policy, politics and people”. The Conference will explore what it takes to develop a more effective culture amongst governing bodies in higher education.

This year, Advance HE is celebrating 20 years leading and supporting effective governance in HE. Culture is the key factor that underpins effectiveness no matter what the operating context throws at higher education providers. With that in mind, the 2023 conference will look at board culture through the lens of navigating policy, politics and people. We will reflect on what the past twenty years has sharpened our focus on, as well as look ahead to the prospect of further governmental and regulatory change in order to stimulate thinking on how healthy board culture can thrive to benefit all. 

We will be joined by high profile speakers from the world of politics, higher education and looking beyond to other sectors for a series of keynotes, panels and interactive sessions. The conference is an ideal opportunity to connect with fellow Governors in higher education, Governance Professionals or Executives and learn about developments across the higher education sector with a focus spanning higher education in the UK and internationally.

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Evolving higher education governance brochure

Our new Evolving higher education governance 2023-24 brochure details our support for boards, governance professionals and individual governors. Find out more about our consultancy and enhancement services, the dates for our Governor Development Programme 2023-24 and upcoming exclusive content and projects for Advance HE members.

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Programme - Governance Conference 2023


On the day

Keynote from Julia Gillard

Julia Gillard
Julia Gillard was the 27th Prime Minister of Australia (2010-13) and is currently Chair of Wellcome, a global charitable foundation which supports science to solve urgent health challenges.

Governance today and tomorrow: New Challenges and New Opportunities


‘In this address, former Prime Minister Gillard will draw on her experiences in Australian politics and in her current role chairing the Board of Governors of the Wellcome Trust, to canvas contemporary governance challenges, including meeting the new expectations of the workforce and the community, addressing climate change and focussing on equity, diversity and inclusion. On EDI, former Prime Minister Gillard will canvas the research work of the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.’


Keynote from Susan Lapworth

Chief Executive
Office for Students (OfS)
Susan Lapworth
Susan is Chief Executive of the Office for Students. Her appointment was confirmed by the Secretary of State for Education in September 2022 as the OfS began to deliver its latest strategy, focusing on quality and standards and equality of opportunity.

Panel session

We will explore the higher education regulatory environment in the context of the conference theme, governance: people, politics and policy. We will consider the extent to which the promise of proportionate and risk based regulation is being delivered upon and what further changes may be ahead of us and what this means for governing bodies. The session will also reflect on the review from the Parliamentary Industry and Regulation select committee inquiry to consider their main findings and how the recommendations may impact policies and people in the governance eco-system. We will also consider lessons learned in navigating the changing regulatory and policy environment which will enable governing bodies, particularly in respective nations, to prepare for ongoing change in the content of a higher education sector increasingly under the spotlight.

Associate Director (Governance)
Advance HE
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.

Former Chief Creative Officer for BBC Television
Pat Younge
Patrick Younge (BSc 1987) is one of the UK’s leading media figures with an international career in the world of television and media.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Governance and Student Affairs
University of Gloucestershire
Dr Matthew Andrews
Matthew is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor Governance and Student Affairs at the University of Gloucestershire having enjoyed an extensive career in university leadership. He is responsible for governance, a broad range of professional services, and internationalisation. Prior to his current role, Matthew was Academic Registrar and Director of Academic and Student Affairs at Oxford Brookes University. He started his career at Durham University where he held various posts including Director of the Graduate School and Director of Undergraduate Recruitment.

De Montfort University
Professor Katie Normington
Professor Katie Normington joined De Montfort University, Leicester as Vice-Chancellor in 2021 from Royal Holloway, University of London, where she was Deputy Principal (Academic).
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Keynote from Jane Hamilton

Culture and people enabling policy and compliance

Higher education is a ‘people’ business and if the people and culture aren’t right your compliance will only ever be a tick list. Jane Hamilton will share her insights and experience about the key factors  enabling a healthy board culture, which goes beyond policy and compliance to creating the right conditions for challenge, change, innovation and readiness to face the turbulent sector environment with which our universities are grappling.

Jane Hamilton is Chair of Council and the ‘People Supporting Strategy’ Committee at the University of Essex, and Chair of the CUC. During her career, she has been involved in talent development and a champion of diversity in the workplace.  Jane will offer insights into her:

  • experience of implementing an integrated approach to strategic oversight of people, for the governing body, beyond financial considerations, and
  • reflections on how the governing body navigates politics and policy from a people perspective. 

Chair of NHS Property Services Ltd, Chair of Council of the University of Essex and Chair of the Committee of University Chairs
Jane Hamilton
Jane has spent the last 30 years leading teams and driving change across the property, education and government sectors. She is currently Chair of NHS Property Services Ltd, Chair of Council of the University of Essex and Chair of the Committee of University Chairs. She is also a Non-Executive Director of the Government Property Agency and a previous member of the Board of Trustees at the Institute of Cancer Research.

Senior Consultant Governance and Leadership
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. 


Policy: How do you develop a new regulatory approach?

Chair: Aaron Porter

This session will explore how the changing policy environment is impacting the higher education sector, individual institutions and how this is impacting the discussions and oversight which governing bodies need to undertake. In the context of an upcoming general election, the session will consider the extent to which higher education policy is under the spotlight, what a future government may bring for the sector and what the sector would want to see from the next government. 

Universities UK
Shahid Omer
After an initial career in magazine publishing and media, Shahid Omer joined the civil service through the Civil Service Fast Stream and went on to have roles in Private Office, business finance (helping establish the British Business Bank), Industrial Strategy and as Senior Policy Adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg during the Coalition Government.

Former Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive at University, South Wales
Julie Lydon
Previously Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales (2010-2021), since her retirement she has focussed her non executive roles to support education and charities. Her current board memberships include Board of Trustees Nelson Trust, Solent University Southampton and the University of the West of England. She is also an associate of Advance HE with a particular interest in the development of leadership for women and good governance practices.

Politics: What do we want future government to focus on for HE?

This panel will explore the current and likely future direction for political interest in higher education with a discussion on how governing bodies are responding to the governments priorities for higher education and where this influences strategic direction. The panel will draw upon their own experience in Parliamentary politics and having held ministerial positions in government to explore the trends of what governments expect from universities and higher education institutions. The panel will seek to examine and explore with delegates what the higher education sector would like future governments to prioritise for higher education and how this may align with the agendas of current and future governments and what changes and developments may be required.

Lancaster University
Alistair Burt
Rt Hon Alistair Burt, Pro-Chancellor Lancaster University.

After reading Law at University, Alistair Burt qualified as a solicitor and served in Parliament for his hometown of Bury between 1983-97. He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Rt Hon Kenneth Baker whilst he was Sec of State for Education between 1986-89.

Chief Executive Officer
London Higher
Diana Beech
As CEO of London Higher, Diana is responsible for overseeing the overall strategic direction of the organisation and being a voice for London’s universities and higher education colleges.

Diana has previously worked in government as a policy adviser to three Ministers of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation. Prior to this she was the first Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

You can find her on Twitter at @dianabeech

Professor of Government Practice
University of Manchester
Andy Westwood
Andy is Professor of Government Practice at the University of Manchester where he teaches politics and is a theme director at the ESRC funded Productivity Institute. He also works regularly as an adviser to the OECD, the EU and the IMF, as well as for the Select Committees on Economic Affairs and Digital Skills in the House of Lords. He was a special adviser to education and science ministers in the last Labour government and also worked as an advisor at the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

People: Navigating board dynamics – Lessons from other sectors

In this session we will explore the themes emerging across sectors in the quest to improve both board diversity and inclusion. What do the best boards do? How can you avoid the inclusion gap? What could higher education boards be doing differently? Our two contributors will bring a wealth of insights from the corporate, arts and education sectors to lend a fresh perspective on this issue.

Chair of Aakash Odedra Dance Company
Ri Chakraborty
Ri Chakraborty is a trained Broadcast Journalist, award-winning global senior Executive Producer/Commissioner, 28 years' experience in TV, Film, Arts innovation, and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society for arts, manufactures and commerce (RSA).

Professor of Organisational Behaviour
Dr. Randall S. Peterson
Dr. Randall S. Peterson is Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Founding Director of the London Business School Leadership Institute. He is former Deputy Dean (Faculty) of the School, Vice President of the School’s fundraising campaign committee, Chair of the Organisational Behaviour Subject Area, and of the London Business School Ph.D. Programme. He teaches executive and MBA classes on leading teams and organisations, board dynamics, high performance teams, leadership assessment and skill development.

Assistant Director, Consulting, Governance and Insights
Advance HE
Victoria Holbrook
As Assistant Director, Consulting, Governance and Insight, Victoria leads the development of Advance HE’s consultancy and insight to meet the strategic change needs of members and clients in their rapidly evolving operating environments, including our sector-leading work supporting governance effectiveness, and student surveys.
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Peridot Partners

Established in 2009, Peridot Partners is a values-led company committed to developing the leadership of socially focused organisations through executive and board recruitment. The strength of our organisation comes from our cross-functional networks, our exceptional research team and our experience of attracting people from all sectors. In the Education Practice, we provide a bespoke and personal approach towards the recruitment of executive, academic and professional services leaders and non-executive directors across the higher education sector. Visit our website to find out more.

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