16 - 17 March 2023
Virtual conference via Hopin

Ed Foster, Head of Student Engagement & Analytics, Nottingham Trent University

Ed is Head of Student Engagement & Analytics at Nottingham Trent University. His team implements learning analytics for the University making data available for students, tutors and professional support staff. His team recently launched a student contact service to improve how the institution responds to learning analytics data. He directs research into learning analytics, data and systems to support students, and blogs (badly) at He is currently on secondment from his substantive role working on ways to improve student engagement through policy and pedagogic practice.

Christine Couper, Director and Senior Analyst, CouperJones Ltd

Christine is a strategic planner with a wide range of experience including statutory regulation and funding, data analysis and insight, project and change management, qualitative research, training, and higher education policy. She was the institutional lead for the implementation of a Learning Analytics solution at the University of Greenwich, one of three HEIs involved in the co-design of the Jisc Learning Analytics system. After a long career at Greenwich, Christine set up her own consultancy, covering a wide range of planning activities but with a focus on Learning Analytics and Business Intelligence. She has recently completed a review of Learning Analytics in Higher Education in Wales and has also supplied consultancy advice to seven of the universities in Wales.

Carolyn Fearn, Head of Operations (Teaching and Learning), Sheffield Hallam University

Carolyn has over 30 years’ experience within HE leading and managing multiple Professional Services teams across a range of HE activities.  Carolyn is currently Head of Operations (Teaching and Learning) in the directorate of Student Experience, Teaching and Learning at Sheffield Hallam University, responsible for development and innovation of policies/procedures, research, analysis and interpretation of management information and significant activities associated with the student experience and student engagement, including the implementation of Learning Analytics. Her research interests are around learning analytics and the use of data to support student outcomes that led to a recent publication (Post-GDPR Usage of Students' 'Big-data' at UK Universities, Fearn, C., & Koya, K. (2021). Carolyn is Co-Chair of the Jisc Learning Analytics User Group.

Dan Kidd, Director Registry Services, University of Wolverhampton

Daniel has been working in UK higher education for over 20 years. Having previously worked in student data roles within HE providers, Daniel worked at the Higher Education Statistics Agency as Head of Training and Consultancy from 2006 until 2018. In January 2018 Daniel took up the post of Director of Planning at Arden University with a broad remit across planning and statutory compliance activities. In February 2019 Daniel became Deputy Academic Registrar at the University of Wolverhampton, before becoming Director of Registry Services in August 2022. Daniel co-authored a chapter on ‘Data capability across the information landscape’ within ‘Higher Education Strategy and Planning: A professional guide’ (Routledge, 2018), and is chair of the HESPA Training Committee.

Thomas Owen-Smith, Consultant, SUMS Consulting

Tom helps leaders navigate complex environments. He specialises in strategy and planning; structured approaches to transformation, change and organisation design; and holistic solutions for complex problems and whole-institution questions such as sustainability and external impact. Tom joined SUMS in 2022 from King’s College London’s Directorate of Strategy, Planning & Analytics, where he developed high-value strategy and transformation initiatives across the university. Examples include the university’s five-year corporate strategy, a refresh of the planning framework, a strategy and change programme for the student finance portfolio, and a university climate strategy for net zero carbon and maximising societal impacts to mitigate climate change. In earlier roles in King’s Business School and the School of Global Affairs, he also worked closely with the university’s faculties. Previously, Tom worked in academia, and the development and media sectors in the UK, India and Nepal.

Dr Julian Skyrme, Director of Social Responsibility, University of Manchester

Dr Julian Skyrme is the founding Director of Social Responsibility at The University of Manchester. Social responsibility is one of the University's three core goals and ensures that Manchester's learning, research, engagement and operational activities make a positive difference to society. He has first-class honours, master’s and doctoral degrees in political philosophy and social sciences from The University of Manchester and spent his early career as a teacher and Assistant Vice-Principal in a large urban sixth form college. Julian contributes to local, national and international policies, initiatives and networks to enhance the social engagement of higher education. He is a member of: Manchester City Council's Strategic Education Partnership Board and Homelessness Partnership Board; the Board of Manchester's Loreto Sixth Form College; the Board of Trustees at MACC – Manchester's voluntary, community and social enterprise support organisation; Business in the Community's (BITC) North-West Leadership Board; and the global University Social Responsibility network. He's also a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, guitarist, everyday cyclist, Manchester United and Wales fan, and father to two children.

Dr. Drew MacFarlane, Senior Research Manager, QS

Drew MacFarlane is the Senior Research Manager at QS, where he oversees the design, integrity, and governance of the ranking’s suite. An academic by training, prior to joining QS he worked in international education in Shanghai and was previously a lecturer in linguistics at the University of York, United Kingdom. He completed his MA in business at the University of Glasgow Adam Smith Business School, masters in linguistics at University of Glasgow and PhD in psychology at University of Canterbury. This year marks the 20th year since he first stepped in front of a classroom, and he has been in the education sector one way or another even since.

Sam Whittaker, Senior Higher Education Consultant, Times Higher Education

Sam Whittaker is a Senior Higher Education Consultant at Times Higher Education. Since joining the THE team, he has supported universities around the world with their planning around sustainable development. Using the THE Impact Rankings as a starting point, the THE Consultancy team have worked with universities and governments to think about what sustainable development means for the Higher Education sector and to create plans that embed evaluative principles within them to produce positive outcomes globally. The team also supports universities and governments relating to research and teaching priorities. Sam is particularly interested in how to measure progress towards sustainable development in the HE world and has worked with stakeholders across the sector to create new KPIs and measures for sustainable development.

Miranda Routledge, Director of Planning, Loughborough University

Pisces, parents both psychiatrists, lived in Leeds until 5 years then Leicester, horse rider and owner for a while, Beauchamp College for GCSEs and Psychology, English and Geography A-Levels, Hull University graduate, The Smiths, The Cure, festivals including Glastonbury, surviving mud, brief stint NHS, Loughborough University for 25 years (have been Registry, Data Protection, Governance, Student Information Systems, Council – now Director of Planning: Strategy, Planning, Resources, Policy, Horizon scanning, University Executive Board and University Leadership Group); was AUA now HESPA; married with two girls, dog owner, exercise habits Step to Zumba, running since 2011, Great North Run third time 2022, hot water drinker, tea drinker, hard and resilient worker, impatient and intolerant homework supporter, dog walking for head clearance, read until I fall asleep, want to make the University a better place to work and study.

Laura Knox, Director of Planning, University of St Andrews and Member of the HESPA Executive

Laura is Director of Planning at the University of St Andrews. She joined the University in 2008 after holding a number of research, analytical and planning support roles within the public and HE sectors. Laura has a keen interest in strategy development, resource planning frameworks, business intelligence and analytics (with a particular interest in using these tools to engage senior management and facilitate strategic decision making). Laura is a member of the HESPA Executive, the HESPA Higher Education Data Insights Group, the HESPA Development Group and UUKi  Monitoring and Evaluating Transnational Education Data Advisory Group. She was recently a participant in the OfS NSS Review Advisory Board.

Jonathan Woodhead, Vice-Chancellor’s Policy Adviser, Birkbeck, University of London

Jonathan is presently Policy Adviser at Birkbeck, University of London. He leads on all aspects of public affairs, stakeholder engagement and policy development. Jonathan has experience of the world of politics and higher education having worked as a Political Assistant to Mark Prisk MP, the former Business Minister and latterly as a Policy Adviser to The Rt. Hon. David Willetts MP, now Lord Willetts of Havant. He was also the Senior Public Affairs Officer at Universities UK and a former Executive Officer to a London based Vice-Chancellor. He holds a BA in International Relations and an MA in War Studies from King’s College, London.

Matthew Shute, Head of Planning, University of Bristol

Matthew has been Head of Planning at the University of Bristol since 2017. He supported the development of the University’s new ‘Vision and Strategy 2030’ and now coordinates its implementation and reporting. He also coordinates and trouble shoots the annual business planning cycle, which includes the production of centralised Management Information and running business processes including Student Number Planning, Risk Management and Fee-setting. Matthew is particularly interested in identifying and communicating insight, gained from qualitative and quantative sources, and making better decisions. Matthew is a member of the HESPA Development committee.

Dr Catherine Murray, Director of Planning, Queen Mary University of London

Catherine is the Director of Planning at Queen Mary University.  She is also the institutional lead for Information Provision and works with teams across professional services to deliver BI using an IT-lite approach.    Catherine has twenty years of experience in University Planning ensuring that planning, risk management and performance evaluation  processes are aligned and underpinned by robust and timely data/information.  She has wide knowledge of the UK HE sector having previously worked at LSE, the University of Hull,  Middlesex and Westminster.

John Britton, Consulting Fellow, Halpin

John was responsible for strategic planning, corporate governance, assurance, legal services, major incident planning, and business intelligence as Director of Strategic Planning and Governance at Cardiff University. John led the work at Cardiff University that enabled his team to win HESPA Strategic Planning Team of the Year 2019.   John has 20 years’ experience in higher education, and has also worked in local and central government.  Since moving to consultancy 18 months ago he has worked with ten clients on a range of projects.

Victoria Jones Parry, Director of Strategic Programmes, University of Bristol

Victoria Jones Parry is Director of Strategic Programmes at the University of Bristol, leading the team which identifies, prioritises, plans and delivers major strategic change initiatives for the University of Bristol. Prior to that she spent 17 years at Deloitte, delivering operational transformation and strategic change for clients and for Deloitte itself.

Natalie Seaton-Lucas, Portfolio Manager, Strategic Programmes and Projects, University of Bristol

Natalie Seaton-Lucas is Portfolio Manager at the University of Bristol responsible for coordinating effective and efficient portfolio management practices and drafting the portfolio strategy with the Strategic Implementation Board. Over the course of nearly eight years at the University of Bristol she has been a Senior Project Manager, a Programme Manager and Head of Strategic COVID Response. Prior to joining the University, she worked in various roles in the Broadcast Television industry, notably spending five years as a specialist Sports and Arts Post Producer at ITV Studios, London.

Oscar Minto, RUSU Education Officer, Reading University Students’ Union

Oscar is the current Education Officer at Reading University Students’ Union and a Student Panellist at the Office for Students. Having recently completed a law degree at the University of Reading, he has since focused on working with university staff to improve the tailoring of assessment feedback and building stronger academic communities. Having represented students in various roles, Oscar has developed a keen interest in understanding how quality is regulated in Higher Education and how assessment can be delivered authentically to ensure learning outcomes are fulfilled. With further interests in technology and data protection law, he is also eager to explore how learning platforms can use data to enhance student experiences.

Dr Alex Bols, Deputy CEO, GuildHE

Dr Alex Bols is Deputy Chief Executive of GuildHE, which represents 59 universities and colleges. He leads GuildHE’s policy on a number of areas including quality assurance, international and immigration, teacher education and he sits on various sector-wide groups including as a member of UK-wide Standing Committee on Quality Assessment and HEFCW’s Quality Assessment Committee. He is on the Board at Writtle University College having recently finished eight years on the Board at University College of Osteopathy (including three years as Board Vice Chair). He recently completed his Doctor of Education on student representation at UCL’s Institute of Education. He was previously Executive Director of the 1994 Group and Head of Higher Education and Assistant Director (Research) at NUS.

Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jisc

Heidi's current role is the CEO of Jisc. Jisc is a not-for-profit membership organisation that provides the UK universities, colleges and skills sectors with a shared digital infrastructure. Heidi has worked in higher education for most of her career and held a variety of Board level leadership roles, most recently as executive director of corporate services at the University of Sheffield. Prior to Sheffield, she spent eight years at the University of York, as CIO and deputy COO. Heidi was a member of UCAS council for 8 years, chair of Universities and College Information Systems Association (UCISA), and chair of the Russell Universities Group IT Directors (RUGIT). She has recently become a governor of York College my local FE provider.

Al Carlile, Director of Planning, Projects and Business Intelligence, University of Sheffield

Al has worked in higher education for more than twenty years and for three universities. Al joined the University of Sheffield in 2010 and started his current role as Director of Planning, Projects and Business Intelligence in April 2020. He has worked in a variety of roles in admissions, student recruitment, student services and the delivery of change projects. Planning, Projects and Business Intelligence support strategic decision-making and the delivery of the University of Sheffield's vision through the provision of business intelligence and reporting, policy guidance, management of strategic planning and the delivery of strategic change.

Emma Hartley, Planning & Performance Manager, The University of Sheffield

Emma is a relative newcomer to the planning world, having headed up the Planning & Performance team at Sheffield since Summer 2022. A qualified Prosci Change Practitioner and APM Project Manager, she began her career in Alumni Relations before moving into project and change delivery with Higher Education spanning system implementation, service re-design and cultural change. Emma is now rolling out the new five year planning cycle at Sheffield with a current focus on staff engagement and process improvement.

Wesley Rennison, Director of Strategic Planning, University of Strathclyde

Wesley is the Director of Strategic Planning at the University of Strathclyde. The Strategy and Policy team at Strathclyde works on a wide range of activities including performance management, strategy development and implementation, operational planning, business intelligence, external reporting, governance and committee support, liaison with the funding council and complaints handling. He also has contributed to several sector wide policy and review panels in Scotland and is currently part of the HE Funding Model Review Group of the Scottish Funding Council. Wesley is an accredited mediator with the Scottish Mediation Network and is a practising work-based mediator in the HE Sector, having mediated and facilitated discussions at several institutions. Prior to working in HE, he worked in information and planning roles in the primary and secondary education sector and practised as a community mediator. Wesley has degrees in Philosophy & Maths (UC Dublin) and Peace Studies (Bradford). He is a keen racket sport player, but has sadly learned that enthusiasm is no substitute for skill.

Jackie Njoroge

Jackie has recently joined the University of Salford 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.

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