Thursday 8th February

08:30 - 16:30 Conference registration and enquiry desk open

10:25 - 10:30 Welcome and Introduction to Conference

Speakers: Al Carlile, Director of Strategic Planning and Change, The University of Sheffield

10:30 - 11:30 Plenary 1: Place, mission and identity in higher education - reflections and projections of two Vice-Chancellors

Speakers: Professor Ebrahim Adia, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton and Professor David Maguire, Vice-Chancellor and President, University of East Anglia
In conversation with Dr Debbie McVitty, Editor, Wonkhe

This session will explore the way the sector has changed over the last ten years, and look ahead to consider the importance of place, mission and identity as we enter a new era. Universities have been homogenized via funding, regulation and marketisation, and as a result many have evolved to serve all things to all stakeholders. Perhaps it is time to consider 'value' in context, and to derive - and accept - different interpretations of 'value' against the backdrop of integrity and authenticity, empowering institutions to focus on what they do best, for the communities they serve.

11:30 - 12:00 Refreshments and Exhibition

12:00 - 13:00 Workshops Block A

Workshop A1: Working with “value” in universities: challenges and opportunities

Speaker: Dr Thomas Owen-Smith, Sustainability Practice Lead, SUMS Consulting

Universities are dynamos of value creation. Few other organisations can match the contributions that universities make to society through their education, research and ability to bring people together.

But how effectively can we demonstrate this? Even finding common definitions of value can be difficult, let alone measuring it. Accounting for negative impacts (largely on the environment) and their associated erosion of value is a further challenge.

What insights can we gather on value in higher education? How might we understand it better? How could the skills and expertise of strategic planners contribute to doing this? These are some of the questions that we will explore in this interactive session.

Workshop A2: Forming a Strategic Approach to League Table improvement

Speakers: Daniel Kidd, Director of Registry Services, University of Wolverhampton and Chris Taylor, UK Client Partnership Manager, QS - Quacquarelli Symonds

The session offers an overview of how your provider can best approach league table performance to ensure strategy feeds into the key indicators used by compilers. You will gain an understanding of the methodology, indicators and best practice approaches to the QS World University Rankings, as well as provider-based advice on what this might look like at your provider.

Workshop A3: A collaborative approach to portfolio review

Speaker: Dominic Davis, Director of Strategy, Planning and Performance, City, University of London

This session will provide a walk-through of a recent Portfolio Review project, with a focus on strategic alignment, navigating cultures and politics, methodology, data analysis, visualisation, and governance.

Workshop A4: Ensuring quality amid increasing demand and diminishing resource

Speaker: Dr Brooke Storer-Church, Director of Strategic Academic Engagement, Birmingham City University and Ruth Burchell, Quality Enhancement and Standards Specialist, The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA)

Amidst increasing external pressures, universities and colleges continue to provide high-quality programmes while pushing for efficiencies and better joined-up working across different parts of their institutions. This session will explore how OFS’s regulation of the B conditions, with its understanding of quality based on student outcomes data, provides an opportunity for university planners to drive strategic conversations across their institutions, using a case study from Birmingham City University to illustrate. The session will then dive deeper into aspirations of the UK sector to move “Beyond the Baseline” and explore the concepts around Quality Enhancement as used by the UK Nations as the primary driver for regulating a high-quality learning experience. The session aims to offer insight into the current regulatory context of the UK sector and offer tips, tools and terminology to help planners recognise the aspirational goals of colleagues striving towards quality enhancement and how they might help achieve them.

13:00 - 14:15 Lunch and Exhibition

14:15 - 15:00 Business Sessions

Business Session 1: Simitive - Enforcing the Strategy in Strategic Planning to Plan Beyond Tomorrow

Speakers: Dr Tine Blomme, Lead Consultant, Simitive and Nick Garforth, Workload Management Service Lead, Simitive

In response to the many challenges facing the HE sector, universities and colleges are redefining themselves through a holistic approach that puts strategy at the heart of financial and academic planning.

In this session, we will explore what the future and potential strategies might look like. We will navigate how Strategic Planning intricately weaves academic, financial, community engagement, student life, research, infrastructure, and human resources planning together to form a unified long-term strategic planning approach.

Focusing on strategy alignment and different strategy types, we will recognise the intersection of strategic planning with the transformative power of integrated data. As John Naisbitt once stated ‘We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge."

Business Session 2: Studyportals - Data-Driven Discoveries: Unveiling the state of the UK market in a global context

Speakers: David Pilsbury, Chief Development Officer, Oxford International Education Group, Archie Pollock, Senior Analytics Consultant and Team Lead, Studyportals, Robert Lintzen, Complex Data Products Manager, Studyportals and Karl Baldacchino, Researcher, Studyportals

In times of uncertainty, institutions must effectively utilise their marketing channels, understand target audiences, and anticipate future market changes. Despite an overall sense of despondency in the UK higher education market, there remains strong demand from source countries globally.

In this session, we start by looking at the current state in the UK and spot opportunities for key recruitment markets and subject areas by taking a granular and global approach to address what, where, how, and when changes are occurring.

Additional insights will be observed from Studyportals’ novel Enrolment dataset to identify those regions where international students can pay higher tuition fees or have higher IELTS scores. Doing so, this data aids in shifting from optimising for graduation to optimising for employment, revealing which nationalities can impact the local economy, or which students are more likely to leave for home afterwards.

15:00 - 15:30 Refreshments and Exhibition

15:30 - 16:30 Plenary 2: Tomorrow’s World - part one: Exploring trends, patterns and projections about the stakeholders and communities we serve

Speaker: Dr Mark Corver, Managing Director, dataHE
Introduced and chaired by Emma Hartley, Head of Planning & Performance, The University of Sheffield

What is a forecast from data? And with uncertainty rising, how can planners make sure these forecasts are more help than hinderance? Some key signals from the data around higher education, and how to use it to forecast and plan for ”Tomorrow’s World”.

16:30 - 16:35 Closing Remarks

Speakers: Emma Hartley, Head of Planning & Performance, The University of Sheffield

18:30 - 21:30 HESPA Awards Ceremony and Conference Dinner

At 18:30 join us for a drinks reception, followed by the HESPA Awards Ceremony and gala dinner, at The Drum. We look forward to being together for the first time in a few years! Feel free to continue celebrations at our late bar until midnight. 



Friday 9th February


08:30 - 15:40 Conference registration and enquiry desk open

09:30 - 10:30 Plenary 3: Navigating the Tertiary Education System

Speakers: David Hughes CBE, Chief Executive, Association of Colleges and Dr Diana Beech, CEO, London Higher
Introduced and chaired by Al Carlile, Director of Strategic Planning and Change, The University of Sheffield 

How can we create a UK-wide post-16 skills ecosystem which serves the needs of many and varied stakeholders, bolsters our economy and enables colleges and universities the ability to thrive, in partnership with one another? We look forward to hearing from David Hughes CBE and Dr Diana Beech as they discuss how the higher education sector might navigate a tertiary system.

10:30 - 11:00 Refreshments and Exhibition

11:00 - 11:45 Business Sessions

Business Session 3: ExploranceUsing AI-Powered Explorance MLY to Understand the Student Voice at University of Westminster

Speakers: John Atherton, VP Sales, EMEA, Explorance and Kirsty Bryant, Senior Institutional Research Analyst, University of Westminster

Join Explorance and Kirsty Bryant, Senior Institutional Research Analyst at the University of Westminster, for this session on Explorance MLY, an AI-powered qualitative analysis tool.

In this session, Kirsty will share Westminster’s story, explaining why they decided to implement MLY, their experience so far, and predictions for future use.

Collection and analysis of qualitative student feedback can provide the ‘why’ behind the numbers and provide guidance on understanding the Student Voice and how to make decisions that are led with improvements and the Student Voice in mind. With the increasing importance of enhancing the student experience and fostering continuous improvement in higher education, the University of Westminster has employed Explorance AI technology to analyse and interpret the multifaceted feedback and sentiments expressed by students. This presentation highlights the power of Explorance MLY and AI in understanding the Student Voice, and our aims to drive positive change for student experience and student outcomes.

Business Session 4: Lightcast - The Twin Transitions: The Rise of Green Jobs and Technological Advancements and What This Means for the HE Sector?

Speaker: Elena Magrini, Head of Global Research, Lightcast

The rise of the green economy and rapid pace of digitisation are two of today’s hottest topics. The march to Net Zero and recent technological developments such as Generative AI, cannot fail to have profound effects on the labour market, the type of work being done, and the skills needed to succeed. But how can Universities prepare for this future, particularly in terms of equipping tomorrow’s workforce with the requisite skills that will be needed in this Twin Transition?

While we have no crystal ball, recent labour market trends can give us helpful insights on the direction of travel. By using labour market insights, we can understand which green skills and which digital skills are emerging in the labour market, such that we can then adapt courses and add modules to incorporate them, equipping students with the skills that are genuinely being sought out by employers.

Join us for what promises to be a fascinating glimpse into this future, with Lightcast’s Head of Global Research, Elena Magrini taking the audience through how universities can use data to understand skills demand in relation to green jobs and technological advancements, and how this can be applied to shaping courses that teach the skills of the future.

11:45 - 13:00 Lunch and Exhibition

13:00 - 14:00 Workshops Block B

Workshop B1: Equipping today's students with tomorrow's skills

Speakers: Dr Charlie Ball, Head of Labour Market Intelligence, Jisc and Dr Becki Vickerstaff, Higher Education Senior Consultant, Jisc

Join Becki and Charlie from Jisc Data Analytics as we examine the current graduate labour market and future demand and then explore the HE landscape on supporting student digital skills and institutional approaches in developing digital confidences.

The session will also discuss the importance of developing digitally proficient and agile graduates to adapt to advances in technology such as AI and to the needs of the future labour market.

Workshop B2: Elections 2024 – What might happen next?

Speaker: Dr Diana Beech, CEO, London Higher, Nick Hillman, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), Lee Findell, Partner & Head of Education, WA Communications and Jonathan Woodhead, Policy Adviser, Birkbeck, University of London
Introduced and chaired by Simon Jennings, Deputy Secretary & Director of Strategic Planning, Lancaster University

This session will give an overview of the national elections being held in 2024 (Metro Mayoral, PCC, Local Authority and GLA) and a look at the likely General Election in the Autumn. This will cover the impact this may have on higher education institutions such as the civic engagement agenda, the skills agenda and the overall funding environment for students and universities in the run up to the General Election.

Workshop B3: Risk and Insurance Challenges facing the HE Sector

Speaker: Philip Farrar, National Development Director, Risk Management Partners Ltd

This session will cover the challenges faced by the HE sector in understanding their risk profile, and risk transfer solutions along with how this then translates into the insurance market. The session will also link the various disciplines with a University setting and how they all play a part in managing risk.

14:00 - 14:30 Refreshments and Exhibition

14:30 - 15:30 Plenary 4: Tomorrow’s World - part two: Responding and adapting to trends, patterns and projections about the stakeholders and communities we serve 

Speakers: Mary Curnock Cook CBE, Chair at Pearson UK and the Dyson Institute, Heidi Fraser-Krauss, Chief Executive Officer, Jisc and Nick Hillman, Director, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)
Introduced and chaired by Emma Hartley, Head of Planning & Performance, The University of Sheffield

Following on from Dr Mark Corver's forecasts in Tomorrow's World Part One the day before, in Tomorrow's World Part Two we will hear from sector commentators Mary Curnock-Cook CBE, Heidi- Fraser-Krauss and Nick Hillman their views on how the higher education sector might need to adapt to remain resilient amid potential changes coming its way. As higher education providers work to prepare today's students with skills for tomorrow, how can they manage themselves efficiently and effectively to serve their various different communities.

15:30 - 15:40 Closing remarks

Speakers: Al Carlile, Director of Strategic Planning and Change, The University of Sheffield and Emma Hartley, Head of Planning & Performance, The University of Sheffield


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