Covid-19 has disrupted virtually all aspects of higher education, from student recruitment to mental health and international partnerships. The sector is facing many unknowns, but one thing is for certain: blended learning, social distancing, and the possibility of local lockdowns will have a definite effect on student retention. Coupled with a difficult confirmation and clearing period, student retention is only going to rise up in the list of priorities for institutions across the UK.
With this in mind, what successful strategies can universities adopt to ensure that students become graduates? And how can we use online tools to make sure that students are not disconnected from their courses and communities?
Why should you attend?
This conference will bring together experts, policymakers, and students with lived experience to help guide the sector in finding practical solutions to immediate problems, as well as scan the horizon for challenges ahead. It will be a unique opportunity to come together with colleagues and experts, share learnings and ideas, and discuss best practice for student retention in your institution. Our headline speakers include:
This conference will be held online over the course of two days. Alongside eight hours of informative, timely content from the most pertinent speakers on the topic, we will also be providing a wide range of opportunities to network, discuss, and make connections with colleagues within the sector.
You will also be able to access the recordings of all sessions after the event, including breakout sessions which you were unable to attend.
This event is essential for anyone working in retention, teaching and learning, student experience, or student success. Relevant job titles include:
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Professor Iwan Davies, Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University
Doug Parkin, Principal Adviser in Learning and Teaching, Advance HE
In September 2020, universities will have opened their doors either physically or virtually to fully operate for the first time in 6 months. Starting or returning to University for some students would not have been easy. Locked down during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic would have meant big gaps in academic learning, a lack of social events and potential issues with mental and physical health, either themselves or loved ones. This session will take a first look into the key challenges as providers transition out of lockdown and into some kind of normality.
Professor Julie Sanders, FRSA, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University
Nadia Ahmed, Welfare and Student Equality Officer, Newcastle University Students' Union
Following the recent ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests around the world, organisations have been reflecting on what actions to take to stand-up against racism but also what more they should do to support the black people in their communities. Universities are no exception to this. In this session, we will hear how Newcastle University are committed to inclusion and social justice with the recent opening of ‘The Frederick Douglass Centre’ and the series of events and activities that aim to create a more inclusive study environment and ensure graduate success.
Professor Peter Francis, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Northumbria University
In this session we will hear about how Northumbria University are using innovative approaches to assess and improve student retention. Through the powerful use of data and analytics, appropriate interventions have been made and can drive culture change.
Choose one session to attend. Small group discussions to follow each session.
Dr Michelle Morgan, Independent Higher Education Student Experience Consultant
This interactive workshop on ‘How personalising the student experience can improve retention’ has a number of aims and objectives. They are to:
Tom Lowe, Head of Student Engagement and Employability, University of Winchester
Maisha Islam, Student Engagement Research and Projects Officer, University of Winchester
For some students, before lockdown, forming a connection with their university might have been difficult for a number of reasons. For example, student commuting from their local communities or international students being far from home. Suddenly, all students may be experiencing some kind of estrangement from their universities due to lockdown, distance learning and other competing external factors. How are universities keeping students engaged and motivated? How are they monitoring progress and not leaving the most vulnerable students to fall through the cracks? What has been learnt from best practice in the past that can be applied to instil a sense of belonging?
Dr Anne Chappell, Divisional Lead, Department of Education, Brunel University London
Dr Emma Wainwright, Senior Tutor and Reader in the Department of Education, Brunel University London
Dr Ellen McHugh, Lecturer in the Department of Education, Brunel University London
Jenni Woods MBE, Head of Access, Participation and Inclusion, Kingston University
Melissa Hariz, Film Studies Student, Kingston University
This session will highlight two case studies of how universities are being proactive in ensuring that their most disadvantage students don’t drop out:
Brunel University London completed a research project entitled ‘successful students: exploring the factors that encourage and enable students from a widening participation background to stay the course’. The emphasis was to shift from looking at attrition and ask the students to share their experiences through questionnaires, interviews and photographs.
Kingston University’s first-ever emergency appeal raised more than £140,000 to support students impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Almost three-quarters of Kingston University students have at least one part-time job to support themselves through university and the pandemic would have seen lots of students lose those jobs. Without being eligible for the furlough scheme and without necessarily having access to the safety net of a family home, a lot of students would have nowhere to turn.
Dr Andrea Patel, Head of the University Graduate School, University of Birmingham
Beth Parkes, Postgraduate Research Student, University of Birmingham
The key to a successful postgraduate degree is a smooth transition from undergraduate study and individual support throughout the process to avoid any feelings of confusion or stress. Research at the University Graduate School at the University of Birmingham aims to build a greater understanding of transition needs and barriers that postgraduate students face.
Dr Harriet Dunbar-Morris PFHE, Dean of Learning and Teaching, Reader in Higher Education, University of Portsmouth
In this session you will hear about how the University of Portsmouth is helping its students to overcome imposter syndrome, and to feel that they belong, that they are part of the university community. The session will highlight how, by working with Pearson, the university is able to give incoming students additional tools to help them become confident learners and take more ownership of their studies, so that they can make the most of their time at university.
Professor Iwan Davies, Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University
Piers Wilkinson, Student Voice Commissioner, Disabled Students' Commission (Secretariat AdvanceHE), Higher Education and Student Partnerships Coordinator, Diversity and Ability
Vince Mayne, Chief Executive, British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS)
Jayne Aldridge, Director for the Student Experience, University of Sussex, and Chair, AMOSSHE
Nam Ranpuria, President, Glasgow University Union
How have higher education providers ensured that through the move to online teaching and the physical closure of campuses that all students have access to the technology, resources and adjustments that they need? Now universities and Students’ Unions are well into semester one of blended learning and virtual socialising, how can they ensure that all students are being supported to meet their full potential and have the best university experience possible? What can we learn from these changes that have been made that could enhance the student experience in the future?
Professor Jane Harrington, Vice-Chancellor, University of Greenwich
John de Pury, Assistant Director, Universities UK
‘Stepchange: mentally healthy universities’ is a refreshed strategic framework for a whole university approach to mental health and wellbeing. It calls on universities to see mental health as foundational to all aspects of university life, for all students and staff. One of the key aspects of this framework is recognising the impact that mental health and wellbeing can have on retention.
Paul Feldman, Chief Executive, JISC
Mary Curnock Cook CBE, Chair of Trustees, The Access Project
Chris Millward, Director for fair access and participation, Office for Students
Sam Hawkins, Liberation Officer, University of Nottingham Students’ Union
To say that the Higher Education sector has been rocked by Covid-19 is an understatement. However, what are the long-term benefits that can be seen because of adjustments and the flexibility that providers had to make because of the pandemic? We ask our panel of experts, has the sector changed for good? What does the future look like? Will the adjustments that have been made be here to stay to help the most disadvantaged students?
Professor Iwan Davies was appointed as the eighth Vice-Chancellor of the University in its 135 year history. Professor Davies is a leading authority on International Commercial Law and has published extensively in Asset Finance, IP and Personal Property Law.
A graduate of Aberystwyth, Cambridge and Cardiff Universities, he is a Barrister having been invited and called to the Bar for distinguished legal academic scholarship. He is a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales and also Visiting Fellow, Jesus College Oxford.
Professor Davies is currently Chair of Global Wales and has a strong reputation for internationalisation, having developed successful initiatives and partnerships around the world. He holds a number of visiting Professor posts as well as other international appointments. He is a fluent Welsh speaker.
Professor Julie Sanders became Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2018 having joined Newcastle University as Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Humanities and Social Sciences) in 2015. She has special responsibilities for academic strategy, the University's work and commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Environmental Sustainability, as well as the Engagement and Place sub-strategy including its focus on social justice.
Julie obtained her first degree in English at Cambridge University and went on to study for a Masters and a PhD at the University of Warwick, during which time she studied on exchange at Ca'Foscari in Venice and at UC Berkeley. Her first lectureship was at Keele University in 1995 and she joined the University of Nottingham as Chair of English Literature and Drama in 2004. While at Nottingham she was Head of the School of English from 2010-13 and then seconded for two years to their Ningbo China joint venture campus as Vice Provost (Teaching and Learning). She is currently a trustee of Northern Stage.
Beth Parkes is an ESRC funded PhD candidate in history at the University of Birmingham. Her thesis, Skin Deep: Beauty and Complexion in the Black Atlantic 1960-85, investigates complexion modification practices such as suntanning and skin bleaching among women in the U.K., U.S., and Jamaica from 1960-85. Beth has also undertaken projects in the Graduate School on student transition and as Westmere Scholar.
Anne Chappell is Senior Lecturer and Divisional Lead in the Department of Education at Brunel University London. Her background is in education and sociology, with particular research interests in policy, professionals, students, and auto/biography. She has undertaken a number of research projects and published in areas such as teachers’ professional lives, the experiences of university students, and education for university staff. Anne is co-convener of the British Sociological Association (BSA) BSA Auto/Biography study group and co-editor of the recently published Palgrave Handbook of Auto/Biography.
Ellen McHugh is a Lecturer in the Department of Education at Brunel University London. Her research interests lie in transnationalism, migration, belonging, welfare and young people. She has extensive experience of working with hard-to-reach groups, with a particular focus on student experience and retention.
Melissa has just completed a BA Hons Degree in Film Making at Kingston University. She is hardworking, dedicated, ambitious, and is passionate about inclusivity and diversity. She has been working for the inspire the future campaign for her 3 years at Kingston, and has benefitted from the student hardship fund, meaning that she understands the importance and value of helping students access HE as well as the barriers most commonly faced. She is keen to continue learning new skills at the same time as gaining more practical experience.
Emma Wainwright is a Reader in the Department of Education at Brunel University London. Her research centres on the geographies and sociologies of education, training and welfare, and has been funded by the ESRC, British Academy, Money Advice Service and Barclays. Her research on student experience has been widely published, including that on student parents (in the British Educational Research Journal, Educational Review and Space and Polity), student success (in Population, Space and Place) and first-in-family students (in Educational Review). Emma is currently co-editor of the British Educational Research Journal.
At Portsmouth Harriet is responsible for providing leadership in the enhancement and evaluation of the student experience. She champions the student voice, and facilitates partnership working, ensuring that student engagement is central to the University's activities. She recently led the revision of the Curriculum Framework which included embedding the Hallmarks of the Portsmouth Graduate within the curriculum. Other projects include Student Success, Personal Tutoring and Content Capture.
After completing her DPhil via the universities of Sussex and Toulouse, and following a postdoc in Psycholinguistics, Harriet undertook research in Higher Education at the University of Oxford. Post-Oxford, Harriet has held positions at UCAS, the 1994 Group, and the universities of Bath and Bradford. See www.harrietdm.com for more detail. Harriet tweets as @HE_Harriet.
Doug Parkin is Principal Adviser for Leadership and Management at Advance HE, (formerly the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education). A specialist in both leadership development and educational development, working in the UK and extensively internationally, Doug was previously Head of Staff and Educational Development at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (University of London).
Alongside his passion for leadership development, Doug has also demonstrated a strong commitment to enhancing the quality of learning, teaching and assessment in Higher Education. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and is the author of Leading Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: The Key Guide to Designing and Delivering Courses, which was published by Routledge in 2017. Doug was recently the project lead for the large-scale, rapid and generative project on Creating Socially Distanced Campuses and Education delivered by Advance HE for the sector.
Michelle is a higher education consultant. Previously she was associate professor and associate dean of the student experience at Bournemouth University.
Michelle is extensively published in the area of supporting student diversity and improving the student learning experience at undergraduate and postgraduate taught level in, through and out of the student study journey. During her varied career, Michelle has been a Faculty Manager, Researcher and Academic. Michelle has over 50 publications and has presented over 100 national and international conference papers (including 40 keynotes and 30 invited papers).
Michelle was creator and PI/Project Lead of an innovative £2.7 million 11 university collaborative HEFCE grant looking at the study expectations and attitudes of postgraduate taught (PGT) students. The project report received praise from across the sector including UKCGE, OFFA, the HEA and the Engineering Professor’s Council. www.postgradexperience.org
Michelle is a Principal Fellow of the HEA, Fellow of the AUA and a Council member of UKCGE. For a second year, she is a judge on The Guardian University awards panel.
Mary Curnock Cook is an independent education expert serving in a non-executive capacity on a number of Boards. From 2010-2017, Mary was Chief Executive of UCAS. Earlier in her career she held executive and non-executive positions in the education, hospitality, food and biotech sectors.
She Chairs the governing body of the Dyson Institute, and the Access Project which helps students from disadvantaged backgrounds progress to top-tier universities. She is a Council member at the Open University, a non-exec Director at the Student Loans Company and the London Interdisciplinary School, and is a Trustee at multi-academy trust, United Learning and HEPI, the Higher Education Policy Institute. She is Network Chair for Emerge Education, the leading edtech investor in Europe as well as advising a number of edtech start-ups.
Mary has an MSc from London Business School and was awarded an OBE in 2000. She is an honorary Fellow of Birkbeck, Goldsmiths and the University of Wolverhampton, and has an honorary doctorate from the University of Gloucestershire.
Maisha Islam is the Student Engagement Research and Projects
Officer at the University of Winchester, alongside studying for an EdD. Maisha
has worked and published in the area of BAME and Muslim student experience in
Higher Education, which is where her main research interests lie. More
recently, Maisha has received a Good Practice Grant from AdvanceHE to produce a
‘What Works?’ case study about how universities can better foster a sense of
belonging for Muslim students, as well as sitting on the UUK-AdvanceHE staff
panel looking to develop guidance for universities to tackle racial harassment.