With five different stages, our non-stop programme hosts over 50 sessions with more than 60 speakers. On this page, you can plan your time at Wonkfest - select which day you want to look at and save sessions with the heart button. Alternatively, you can download a programme pdf below.


Main Stage

Hear from our headline acts and top wonks.

Welcome to Wonkfest!

Monday - 10.30am Main Stage (Walker Space) Team Wonkhe Show

A quick guide to getting the most from Wonkfest, navigating the programme and getting around.
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Is higher education still worth it?

Two of the finest policy minds in the House of Lords debate the future size and shape of the HE sector. Monday - 10.45am Main Stage (Walker Space) Alison Wolf and David Willetts Show

We believe and assume that universities are a ‘good thing’. Higher education has been accelerating its growth for several decades now. But does the sector still have a collective sense of purpose as a result of this growth? Two of the most esteemed and influential thinkers in higher education policy will debate whether higher education is still serving its core purpose, and whether it can continue to do so if it continues to grow.

Alison Wolf

Professor of Public Sector Management, King's College London

David Willetts

The Rt Hon. Lord David Willetts previously served as Minister for Universities and Science (2010-2014) and worked at HM Treasury and the No. 10 Policy Unit. He has a book about the future of universities being published this year.
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Have tuition fees had their day?

Continue the 'national conversation' about fees with the experts. Monday - 12.45pm Main Stage (Walker Space) Andrew McGettigan, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Gavan Conlon Show

Fees and finance are ever recurring themes in HE. Is boom about to bust? Are we doomed? Will Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to abolish tuition fees lead the sector to ruin? Join the leading voices in the debate to ask the big questions around the financing of HE across the nations.

Andrew McGettigan

Journalist, writer, and author of 'The Great University Gamble'

Lucy Hunter Blackburn

Writer and former civil servant
Gavan Conlon

Gavan Conlon

Gavan is a Partner at London Economics
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The politics of fees and finance

Hear firsthand how politics influence fees and finance of higher education. Monday - 1.45pm Main Stage (Walker Space) Kirsty Williams Show

The funding of higher education never fails to hit headlines in the UK and can make or break political careers. So how do politicians make decisions around such a contentious issue? Kirsty Williams, Cabinet minister for education, successfully implemented the outcomes of the Diamond review in Wales with a positive response from the sector. With the near destruction of her party - the Liberal Democrats - still fresh, how did she approach this and what were the drivers at play? A fascinating opportunity to hear real insight into the politics of fees and finance in HE.

Kirsty Williams

Cabinet Secretary for Education in the Welsh Government
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Lessons from the Brexit frontline

Lessons from the Brexit frontline - an up-to-the-moment analysis of the way Brexit will continue to affect the sector. Monday - 3.30pm Main Stage (Walker Space) Ian Dunt Show

Brexit negotiations have rumbled on over the summer, but such is the range and scope of the topics in play it is difficult to stay aware of what will have an effect on the sector. This session aims to bring delegates right up to date with the very latest news and analysis - precise topics will very much be determined on the day! Ian Dunt (author of the seminal "Brexit: What the hell happens now?") will lead a small panel in discussion, drawing in questions and issues from the audience. We'd love to promise that this session will bring clarity to Brexit, but even with these speakers clarity may be a tall order!

Ian Dunt

Ian is editor of politics.co.uk
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Debate Stages

Experts discuss and debate all areas of higher education policy.

Research: policy, practice and the shifting ground

Research is changing - with new policies and new technologies offering new opportunities and setting up new requirements. Monday - 10.45am Debate Stage (606) Athene Donald, James Wilsdon and Rachel Bruce Show

With the establishment of UKRI on the horizon there are further changes to come - and our three experienced speakers will be making sense of a rapidly changing field. From the REF to the Open Science agenda, via the realpolitik of research policy making, this session will introduce the key live debates in this genuinely fascinating area.

Athene Donald

Professor of Experimental Physics and Master of Churchill College, Cambridge

James Wilsdon

Professor of Research Policy, University of Sheffield

Rachel Bruce

Director of Open Science and Research Lifecycle, Jisc
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World Café 2029

Join us in World Café 2029 for a conversation about the University of the Future (UtF). Monday - 11.30am Debate Stage (605) Jenny Shaw, Darren Ellis, Alister Wilson and Simon Hooton Show

We’ll explore how UtF has been transformed by autonomous AI; explore how it shares and utilises knowledge and experience from business partners around the world; map where it has influence and how it shapes public policy; and see whether it still has a heart in local communities. We’ll try to understand what UtF’s purpose is and whether it is one organisation that does everything or several organisations that specialise and collaborate; and we’ll look carefully to see if the staff and students of the future are recognisable to staff and students from today. In true World Café style, we’ll also encourage you to mingle with other guests and to scribble your ideas on the walls and table cloths. Book your seat now. This session is part of the HE Futures project, a collaboration between Wonkhe and Unite Students.
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Will universities ever get to grips with race?

It's time we had a serious discussion of race in higher education. Monday - 12.45pm Debate Stage (606) Amatey Doku, Nona McDuff, Syreeta Allen and Omar Khan Show

The prospect of institutionalised racism in crops up regularly in the debate about widening access and graduate outcomes in higher education, yet the sector is still trying to get to grips with the concept of race and its role in HE. This session will use the experiences of individuals leading on the debate on race in the sector to challenge, provoke, and offer solutions to what the sector can do to get to grips with this important subject. Session chaired by Megan Dunn, Equality Challenge Unit.

Nona McDuff

Director of Student Achievement, Kingston University

Amatey Doku

NUS Vice President (Higher Education)

Syreeta Allen

Post-16 Manager, Widening Participation Department, King's College London

Omar Khan

Director, Runnymede Trust

Megan Dunn

Megan Dunn, Senior Policy Adviser, Equality Challenge Unit
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Who cares about Industrial Strategy?

What does the Industrial Strategy mean for higher education. And what might universities do about it? Monday - 2.00pm Debate Stage (605) Richard Jones, Justine Andrew, Stian Westlake, Sam Sanders and Liz Shutt Show

Hear from the experts including the Industrial Strategy Commission's Richard Jones and Stian Westlake, author of Capitalism without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy. The session will also build on KPMG’s Connected Cities, Connected Universities reports looking at how universities and cities can work together from the ‘hyperlocal’ (individual buildings and communities) to the international level. Using national and International case studies and examples, the work explores five rules that will shape the future of university-city collaboration. Understanding these is essential for city-building and problem solving and the session will explore the rules and how they can be applied within the UK and within the policy context of the Industrial strategy. Discussion chaired by Sam Sanders.

Richard Jones

Richard Jones is a Professor of Physics at the University of Sheffield, a Council Member of EPSRC, and a member of the Industrial Strategy Commission.

Justine Andrew

Director, Public Sector, KPMG. Justine is part of the national Education and Skills leadership team for KPMG.

Stian Westlake

Policy Adviser to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation and formerly Executive Director of Nesta

Sam Sanders

Advisory Lead for Higher Education, KPMG

Liz Shutt

Director of Policy, University of Lincoln and Greater Lincolnshire LEP
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HEconomics: is the glass half full?

Explore the important issues of higher education economics with our unashamedly expert contributors. Monday - 3.15pm Debate Stage (606) Tim Fanning, Maike Halterbeck and Matt Robb Show

There’ll be time to pose the macro and micro questions, and a chance to think ‘why do we care about any of this?’. Economics, more fun than you might expect. Chaired by Andrew McGettigan

Tim Fanning

Associate Director, Regeneris
Maike Halterbeck

Maike Halterbeck

Senior Economic Consultant, London Economics

Matt Robb

Managing Director of Parthenon-EY in the UK
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World Café 2029

Join us in World Café 2029 for a conversation about the University of the Future (UtF). Monday - 3.00pm Learning to Wonk (602) Jenny Shaw, Darren Ellis, Alister Wilson and Simon Hooton Show

We’ll explore how UtF has been transformed by autonomous AI; explore how it shares and utilises knowledge and experience from business partners around the world; map where it has influence and how it shapes public policy; and see whether it still has a heart in local communities. We’ll try to understand what UtF’s purpose is and whether it is one organisation that does everything or several organisations that specialise and collaborate; and we’ll look carefully to see if the staff and students of the future are recognisable to staff and students from today. In true World Café style, we’ll also encourage you to mingle with other guests and to scribble your ideas on the walls and table cloths. Book your seat now. This session is part of the HE Futures project, a collaboration between Wonkhe and Unite Students.

Jenny Shaw

Unite Students

Darren Ellis

Unite Students

Alister Wilson

Ash Futures

Simon Hooton

Ash Futures
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EdTech - What really works?

Defragmenting technology in higher education. Monday - 4.30pm Debate Stage (605) Paul Feldman, Hazel Rymer, Ellen Morgan and Maren Deepwell Show

There's more hype and sales-talk in EdTech than any other area of higher education - our three expert speakers will cut through the bluster and discuss the innovations and possibilities that really matter.

Paul Feldman

Chief Executive, Jisc

Hazel Rymer

Pro Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching Innovation), Open University

Maren Deepwell

Chief Executive, Association for Learning Technology (ALT)

Ellen Morgan

Learning Services Director, Pearson UK
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How to work with your students' union

With the new HE Act in place, the Office for Students to open next year, and TEF in full swing, what role do SUs play in higher education? Monday - 4.30pm Debate Stage (606) Jim Dickinson Show

Jim Dickinson is here to help you better understand how students’ unions could help you face a landscape of ongoing change with more confidence.

Jim Dickinson

Chief Executive of the University of East Anglia Students' Union
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Learning to Wonk

Interactive workshops and training to help you realise the potential of your inner wonk.

HERA to stay: Acting the part in student services

How might services for students need to develop? A workshop which explores the implications of the HE Act. Monday - 10.45am Learning to Wonk (602) Jayne Aldridge Show

The new governance and regulatory framework for the sector pose challenges for everyone working in universities. What are the implications of the Higher Education and Research Act for Student Services? And, more importantly, what can you do about it? This workshop will consider the issues raised by the Act and engage participants in thinking about the range of responses. This sessions is in association with AMOSSHE which promotes the development and sharing of good practice within Student Services in the UK higher education sector at a national level. Find out more about AMOSSHE on their website.

Jayne Aldridge

Director of Services for Students, Kingston University
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Reputation Leadership in Higher Education

What's reputation got to do with anything? Explore what reputation leadership means for universities. Monday - 11.30am Learning to Wonk (603) Ben Verinder and Sue Wolstenholme Show

Reputation really matters, so it’s time to develop your understanding of what is required to manage an HEI's reputation effectively.

With Chalkstream Ltd: Strategy, reputation management and market research in education. Contact: benverinder@chalkstreamltd.co.uk

Ben Verinder

Managing Director, Chalkstream Ltd

Sue Wolstenholme

Ashley Public Relations
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The Art of Negotiation: Changing the Leopard’s Spots

Hands-on negotiating tools for navigating the fickle world of higher education. Monday - 12.45pm Learning to Wonk (602) Sean Johnson and Emma Thomas Show

This session will provide a rapid-fire exploration of negotiating for creating value. This is a hands-on, engaging experience that will empower and enable you to progress a deal, effectively bring stakeholders together, or run a collaborative agenda. It is lively, entertaining, informative and unmissable. Given the joy we all feel in experiencing organisation change in HE, this session will really resonate. Applied Inspiration’s Advisory Team works with universities to develop and deliver student recruitment, widening participation and student success solutions. They specialise in a range of niche agendas: Access Agreement strategy to drive recruitment; organisational unit transformation of student services, including student support and careers services; and organisational unit and programme reviews exploring effectiveness, efficiency and equity, etc. They also provide outsourced/insourced service provision in Australia and England and run their own Learner Journey Academy, delivering inspiring developmental programmes to young people along their education and career pathway. Visit Applied Inspiration's website.

Sean Johnson

Sean was formerly Director of Student Engagement and Equity and prior that, Director, Dispute Resolution in a Law School. He is dynamic, knowledgeable and a very entertaining facilitator.

Emma Thomas

Emma was headhunted from the UK to show the Australians how to run large-scale recruitment and widening participation programmes in the higher education context, including how to effectively partner school and university institutions and ‘bridge’ the recruitment pipeline from primary to higher education. Now she leads the education engagement portfolio working with clients in UK and Australia, developing highly creative programmes.
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The Lived Realities of Leadership: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Leadership skills for higher education from the experts. Monday - 2.00pm Learning to Wonk (603) Tom Kennie and Robin Middlehurst Show

Join us to explore, based on our collective lived experiences, the reality of effective, and less than effective, senior level leadership in higher education. The session will provide a space to reflect on the evolving policy context, the leadership implications and a number of new frameworks to help leaders build an effective senior team and be more confident when dealing with dysfunctional leadership behaviours. Ranmore is a 'niche' provider of leadership development to higher education institutions across the UK, and increasingly, globally. They provide tailored leadership programmes at levels ranging from Heads of Department to Vice Chancellor. In addition, they provide facilitation assistance to support the development of new strategic plans and the delivery of change projects. They are often engaged to provide executive coaching for leaders in transition, again at all levels and increasingly, at Vice Chancellor level. Having been co-programme directors of the Top Management Programme (TMP) for 15 years, Tom and Robin bring a wealth of experience of the lived realities of leadership, particularly at the senior levels of higher education. Visit Ranmore's website.

Tom Kennie

Director, Ranmore

Robin Middlehurst

Robin is Professor Emerita of Higher Education at Kingston University, London and in her new role at robinmiddlehurst.com, she continues to develop resources and projects on governance, leadership development, borderless education and quality enhancement in higher education.
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Monks, Hippies & Suits - navigating models of HE governance

Unpick the complexities of governance. Monday - 4.30pm Learning to Wonk (603) Nick Smith Show

This is a chance to understand a key theory about different decision-making process in HEIs, and to be able to think about how to present ideas and debates most effectively in each. Taking the tone of Wonkhe this will be both a practical and slightly irreverent session that will help you foresee conflict, navigate meetings and the personalities who always seem to be sitting on them.

Visit Nick Smith’s website at www.nicksmithconsulting.org.uk.

Nick Smith

Nick is a freelancer offering Governance and leadership training, consultancy and support for the HE and charitable sectors. Though he cut his teeth in the complexities of students' union and NUS structures he has also been an assistant registrar for governance and Faculty executive officer.
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Wonk Corner

Tips, tricks and toolkits - by wonks for wonks.

The changing role of HESA data

Monday - 11.30am Wonk Corner Andy Youell Show

King of the data-wonks Andy Youell will reflect on the variety of ways that HESA data has been used over the past two decades and set out the vision for the new HE data landscape that is being built by Data Futures

Andy Youell

Director of Data Policy & Governance
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How to craft the perfect job advert

Monday - 12.30pm Wonk Corner Global Academy Jobs Show

GA jobs wonkfest wonkhe Global Academy Jobs manage Wonkhe job listings, alongside GlobalAcademyJobs.com, and will give you tips and tools for the perfect job advert - to get the Wonk you need.
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Branding and differentiation in higher education

Monday - 1.15pm Wonk Corner Dan Beynon, Ed Layt and Ann Fernandez Show

Higher education institutions face the challenge of an increasingly competitive domestic and international marketplace. In response, universities are working hard to achieve distinction and develop their own effective brand strategies. In 2016 SMRS published a global research paper on the importance of branding in HE (‘Branding in HE – an inside view’). Wonkfest sees the launch of the 2nd wave of this research and this session gives delegates first look at the outputs. The research provides information as to the priorities, strategies and tactics being delivered by HEIs from all over the world.

Dan Beynon

Head of Education, SMRS

Ed Layt

Marketing Strategist, SMRS

Ann Fernandez

Director of Marketing, Bournemouth University
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Let's talk about blogging

How to blog for Wonkhe Monday - 2.00pm Wonk Corner Team Wonkhe Show

Want to know more about how to blog for Wonkhe? Team Wonkhe will take you through the process, give advice and answer questions about writing blogs.
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Navel-Gazing vs Reputational Reality

Monday - 3.00pm Wonk Corner Aaron Porter Show

Do the things we as a sector worry about and endlessly discuss really have much bearing on student recruitment? Aaron Porter draws on a range of research, Hotcourses Insights data and the WhatUni Student Advisory Panel to discuss, provoke and investigate whether what really matters to us matters to students.

Aaron Porter

Director of Insights at Hotcourses Group
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Building the case for arts, humanities and social sciences skills: the mechanic's view

Monday - 4.15pm Wonk Corner Harriet Barnes Show

Harriet Barnes, the British Academy’s Head of Policy will describe the recent project on Skills. She’ll give a behind-the-scenes view on the project looking at its development, impact and the context within the British Academy’s work.

Harriet Barnes

Head of Policy (Higher Education and Skills), British Academy
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The Guardian Stage

On their relaxed and conversational stage The Guardian will lead discussions and masterclasses on the media and HE.

Welcome to Wonkfest!

Monday - 10.30am The Guardian Stage Team Wonkhe Show

A quick guide to getting the most from Wonkfest, navigating the programme and getting around.
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Masterclass: Fake news and PR - how do you make sure content feels authentic?

Monday - 10.45am The Guardian Stage Gabriel Huntley Show

Should you go for ‘supported by’ content? How is that different from advertorial? The Guardian will be asking all these questions in their masterclass on fake news and PR.

Gabriel Huntley

Head of Communications and External Relations, University Alliance
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Registrarism with Paul Greatrix - how virality can come from quirky stories

Monday - 12.00pm The Guardian Stage Paul Greatrix Show

The Guardian will be talking to Paul about how he develops his ideas, the reaction he gets and blogging for Wonkhe in his role at Nottingham.

Paul Greatrix

Registrar at University of Nottingham and writer for Registrarism at Wonkhe
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Will the TEF kill league tables?

Monday - 2.15pm The Guardian Stage Matt Hiely-Rayner, Lucy Hodson and John O'Leary Show

Jo Johnson has positioned the Teaching Excellence Framework to challenge the influence of league tables in the sector. With a direct link to funding and a grade inflation metric announced, how successful will this be? Our speakers' experience of league tables and higher education will be discussing the TEF's influence so far, the plans for the future and how the league tables are reacting.

Matt Hiely-Rayner

Director of Intelligent Metrix and regular writer for The Guardian

Lucy Hodson

Director of Planning, Aberystwyth University

John O'Leary

John O’Leary edits The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide
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The challenge of youth

Monday - 3.30pm The Guardian Stage The Guardian Show

In this session, The Guardian will be discussing their YouthSight research and what we know about students' decision-making.
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Meet Team Wonkhe

How does Wonkhe work? - meet the team. Monday - 4.45pm The Guardian Stage Team Wonkhe Show

Ever wondered how Wonkhe produces the Monday Morning HE Briefing, how the team comes up with blog ideas, what it's like working for Mark Leach? This is the session for you! A chance to meet the members of Team Wonkhe and find out what they do.
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Main Stage

Hear from our headline acts and top wonks.

Welcome to Wonkfest!

Tuesday - 9.30am Main Stage (Walker Space) Team Wonkhe Show

A quick guide to getting the most from Wonkfest, navigating the programme and getting around.
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Over-regulated? Under-regulated? How do we get HE regulation right?

How much is too much regulation for universities? How much is too little? Tuesday - 9.45am Main Stage (Walker Space) Andy Westwood, Sonia Sodha and Smita Jamdar Show

Universities spent much of the debate on the Higher Education and Research Act zealously defending their autonomy in anticipation of a new, tougher regulator, the Office for Students. Have they been successful? Our panellists will debate the politics of higher education regulation, whether universities are over- or under-regulated by the state in England and the rest of the UK.

Andy Westwood

Professor of Further Education and Higher Education, University of Wolverhampton

Sonia Sodha

Chief Leader Writer, The Observer

Smita Jamdar

Partner, Head of Education, Shakespeare Martineau
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Anywhere or Somewhere? Have universities lost touch with their local communities?

Has higher education expansion been a “liberation for many and for others a symptom of their declining status"? And was this new divide in our society one of the social causes of the vote to leave the European Union? Tuesday - 11.45am Main Stage (Walker Space) David Goodhart Show

Has higher education expansion been a “liberation for many and for others a symptom of their declining status”? And was this new divide in our society one of the social causes of the vote to leave the European Union? David Goodhart believes so. His thesis of ‘anywhere’ and ‘somewhere’ communities has been one of the most influential and controversial ideas of the last year in British politics. David will outline how education and mobility are at the heart of the social outlook of universities’ ‘anywhere’ students and staff, but also furthers their distance from ‘somewhere’ communities that backed Brexit.

David Goodhart

Head of Demography, Immigration, and Integration Unit, Policy Exchange
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Rejection of the expert

Audience discussion around rejection of experts and place of universities. Tuesday - 2.30pm Main Stage (Walker Space) Team Wonkhe Show

An audience-driven session looking at the rejection of experts. The Wonkhe team will be led by you, exploring the challenges you’re experiencing as HE experts and discussing possible solutions you want to see. A chance for you to shape the agenda and reflect on your own experience. Followed by headliner, Tim Harford, talking about fighting back with facts.
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Fighting back with facts

How do you challenge doubt with facts? Tim Harford will be discussing the strategy of fighting back with facts. Tuesday - 3.00pm Main Stage (Walker Space) Tim Harford Show

In the aftermath of several shock political defeats that exposed a divided nation, facts are in need of a rebrand. But how do you challenge the lies in a “post-truth” world with facts? Tim Harford will be discussing the strategy of fighting back with facts, the power of lies and the emotions at play. Mark Leach will then join Tim Harford to talk about the role of facts and experts in a post-Truth world

Tim Harford

Economist, journalist, and broadcaster
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Debate Stages

Experts discuss and debate all areas of higher education policy.

Chain reaction: degree apprenticeships in HE

Three different perspectives will interview each other on the role degree apprenticeships in higher education. Tuesday - 9.45am Debate Stage (606) Alec Cameron, Gordon McKenzie and Jess Bellamy Show

Degree apprenticeships are quickly becoming the latest prominent 'alternative' format for delivering higher education and, with the apprenticeship levy in place, they are well funded. However, the impact of these apprenticeships for students are unknown. What are the different perspectives on degree apprenticeships as an alternative to a traditional delivery model? What are the challenges and advantages? Can they really compete against the traditional model? What are the long term impacts degree apprenticeships could have on graduates? Three different stakeholders with varying views will be interviewing each other to better understand the different perspectives at play. Chaired by Corey Dixon, Parthenon-EY

Alec Cameron

Professor Alec Cameron has been Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Aston University since 2016. Prior to this he was Deputy Vice Chancellor (Education) at the University of Western Australia (2013-16) and Dean of the Australian School of Business (2006-13), overseeing its emergence from the integration of academic units at the University of New South Wales. Professor Cameron has also held the position of Deputy Vice Chancellor (Resources and Infrastructure) at UNSW, and several senior corporate positions in the IT and telecommunications industry, including at Sun Microsystems Australia, Alcatel Australia, COMindico and Telstra. A Rhodes Scholar, Professor Cameron holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering with First Class Honours. He also holds a University Medal from the University of Sydney, a Doctor of Philosophy degree in robotics from Oxford University, and a Master of Science degree in the Management of Technology from Polytechnic Institute, New York University.

Gordon McKenzie

Gordon McKenzie was appointed as Chief Executive Officer of GuildHE in 2015. As CEO, Gordon is responsible for leading and developing GuildHE as a key representative and advocacy body in the higher education sector. Gordon advises the Chair, Executive and Council Members on developing and implementing GuildHE policies and strategy and leads on communicating with government and other stakeholders on higher education issues. Gordon joined GuildHE following a successful career in the Civil Service, most recently as Deputy Director, HE Strategy and Policy at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. He has experience handling sensitive areas including the implementation of the Browne review on higher education funding and successive government spending reviews. He has also worked with a range of ministers on innovative policies including tackling an increase in graduate unemployment and encouraging the growth of a more competitive sector.

Jess Bellamy

BA Hons Degree in 'Professional Business Practice' at Sheffield Hallam University and working at Nestle’s PetCare Business, Nestle Purina.
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Teaching excellence: what works, and can it be measured?

Two leading thinkers on teaching excellence. Tuesday - 10.30am Debate Stage (605) Shân Waring and Camille Kandiko Howson Show

Graham Gibbs famously wrote that “a small range of fairly well-understood pedagogical practices” engender effective teaching and learning in higher education. Are UK universities actually any good at teaching, and how can they prove it to the doubters and sceptics? The Teaching Excellence Framework has put new pressure on universities to demonstrate that they are teaching effectively, but its current metrics and methods have been heavily criticised. Our panellists will explore how TEF can be done better, and the tensions between institutional freedom, quality enhancement, and public accountability when it comes to teaching and learning.

Shân Waring

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, London South Bank University

Camile Kandiko Howson

Senior Lecturer in Higher Education, King's College London
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What’s the point of public affairs? And what should universities do about it?

A lively debate on the role of public affairs for universities and an exploration of where (ideally) public affairs should 'sit' as a function. Tuesday - 11.45 Debate Stage (606) Sean Fielding, Paul Mylrea, Justin Shaw and Laura Burley Show

Drawing on the speakers’ perspectives and experience, the session will explore why universities engage in public affairs and - when they do - how this engagement can be made to work effectively. Chaired by Justin Shaw, Communications Management

Sean Fielding

Director of Innovation, Impact and Business, University of Exeter

Paul Mylrea

Director of Communications, University of Cambridge

Laura Burley

Head of Government and External Affairs, The Open University

Justin Shaw

Chairman and Managing Director, Communications Management
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Branching out from STEM: the case for arts, humanities and social sciences

Over half of university students in the UK are studying arts, humanities and social sciences. Is HE setting them up to be unqualified for the world they are entering? Tuesday - 1.00pm Debate Stage (605) British Academy Show

The Industrial Strategy, the productivity puzzle, apprenticeships – all issues which are high on the government’s agenda and where the solutions are seen to be in science, technology and engineering. But over half of university students in the UK are studying arts, humanities and social sciences. Is HE setting them up to be unqualified for the world they will be going into? The British Academy’s Flagship Skills Project has looked at the skills which studying the arts, humanities and social sciences develop, and the contribution that they make to society and to the economy through employment. We have found that students of these subjects are able to navigate change and deal with ambiguity, appreciate multiple perspectives, evaluate evidence and present a case, and manage themselves and lead others to solve problems, all skills that will be crucial in a future in which the only thing which is certain is uncertainty. But these subjects, with a few exceptions, fall in the bottom half of the table when it comes to graduate salary outcomes. This panel discussion will look at the evidence for why graduates in these subjects may be earning less and how else we might measure the contribution they make to society, in order to debate whether studying arts, humanities and social sciences is worth it.
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Widening access and social mobility - what is higher education trying to achieve?

Debates about participation and access have been preoccupying the sector for years. Tuesday - 2.15pm Debate Stage (606) Anne-Marie Canning, Suzi Macpherson, Emran Mian, Anand Shukla Show

As policy keeps evolving, much led by government and also from within universisties themselves, we ask what role universities can or should have in social mobility?

Anne-Marie Canning

Director of Widening Participation, King's College London

Suzi Macpherson

Senior Researcher, Scottish Parliament
Mian, Emran.jpg

Emran Mian

Director of Strategy and Social Mobility, Department for Education

Anand Shukla

CEO, Brightside
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Now that’s what I call Registrarism Volume 1

Hear from Wonkhe's Registrarism blogger Paul Greatrix. Tuesday - 3.15pm Debate Stage (605) Paul Greatrix Show

For one night only it’s all the best bits from the largely fact-free Registrarism blog. Presented by the author in person this fun-packed session will cover many of your favourite topics - from league tables to True Crime on Campus and from Higher Ed acronyms to puppy rooms* - all with an exciting 3D twist (i.e. it’s real). After an intensive Wonkfest this should be the ideal way to round off your conference experience.

*NB no actual puppies will be present on this occasion

Paul Greatrix

Registrar, University of Nottingham
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Learning to Wonk

Interactive workshops and training to help you realise the potential of your inner wonk.

Reading financial runes and other mystical practices

Getting the full picture from financial statements: tools for understanding the numbers. Tuesday - 9.45am Learning to Wonk (602) Andrew McConnell Show

Financial statements tell the story of where a university’s money has come from, how it has been used and what it has to show for it. “Simples”, as a meerkat would say. But it’s not quite that simple. There are adjustments, notes and disclosures; accruals, prepayments and depreciation; capitalisation and valuation all to consider. This session will guide you through the financial statements of a university and tell you where to look to know if a university is financially healthy and sustainable. It will suggest some short cuts to reading the whole set of statements and arm you with enough knowledge to ask the right questions of the right people. This session is in association with BUFDG, the representative body for higher education finance staff in the UK. Visit BUFDG's website.

Andrew McConnell

Director of Finance, University of Huddersfield
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Getting the next role

Learn from the experts about how to progress in your career. Tuesday - 10.30am Learning to Wonk (603) Ben Tucker and Kerry Shepherd Show

Feel better equipped to present themselves for future recruitment processes, with some useful pointers in terms of CV, cover letters and interviews. Minerva is an executive search and leadership advisory business with services including headhunting for both permanent and interim roles, leadership assessment, governance review, cultural change projects and 360 degree reviews. We work with clients to develop outstanding teams, cultures and structures, specialising in headhunting, organisational development and leadership services. With nearly thirty years' combined experience working with large international firms, our partners bring the best of large company disciplines together with a leaner, more flexible approach which enables us to respond to the diversity of need and value consciousness of our clients. Visit Minerva's website.

Ben Tucker

Partner, Minerva

Kerry Shepherd

Partner, Minerva
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Coaching for careers

Ever wondered about careers coaching? An interactive session to learn more about the power of coaching for individuals and organisations. Tuesday - 11.45am Learning to Wonk (602) Trudy Delamare Show

Understand what coaching is and how it can support career development. Be clear how coaching how coaching adds value at an organisational and individual level. Know how to get the best from a career conversation. Hear about some of our specialist areas of expertise e.g. supporting career development for women. Coaching4Careers provides career consulting for individuals and organisations - delivered using coaching, workshops and on-line self-assessment tools. For individuals we offer bespoke expertise in areas such as career planning, leadership, networking and personal impact. We help organisations to design development strategies and can deliver, or train you to deliver supporting programmes. Visit the Coaching4careers website.

Trudy Delamare

Coaching4Careers
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Future Tense? Think of a number… Horizon scanning for higher education

Lots of questions and some answers too: making the most of horizon scanning for higher education. Tuesday - 1.00pm Learning to Wonk (603) Jenny Shaw, Alister Wilson and Simon Hooton Show

With so much going on in the world, it can be difficult to figure out what the future of higher education will be like. It may be relatively easy to see what the current challenges for HE are - Brexit, the ageing population, increased competition and stakeholder expectations, for example – but that doesn’t make it easy to understand how they will play out in the future. Or how universities should respond to them.

This session won’t provide all the answers (although you just might find one or two…) but it will show you how horizon scanning can be used to simplify some of the apparent complexity and chaos in the market place. We’ll introduce 10 strategic trends that we believe will shape the sector in the future; we’ll offer 7 provocations for the future that we believe every university should think about; and we’ll suggest 5 steps to build a futures bridge into your strategic planning process. And the number you should think of to help your university navigate the future? It should be between 1 and 9.

This session is part of the HE Futures project, a collaboration between Wonkhe and Unite Students.

Jenny Shaw

Unite Students

Alister Wilson

Ash Futures

Simon Hooton

Ash Futures
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Power, disruption and ties: the importance of university civic engagement

Tools for engaging with local communities. Tuesday - 2.15pm Learning to Wonk (602) Selena Belingbroke Show

Anchors of their communities or globalised ivory towers? This session will explore the civic role of universities and their powers to engage local communities. The session will draw on Goldsmiths' experience of the LGA/HEFCE 'Leading Places' programme. Goldsmiths is a civic university committed to active involvement with local communities in south east London, as well as London as a whole. They harness global knowledge, and economic and social capital to work for the best interests of their local communities and the local economy. Contact: s.bolingbroke@gold.ac.uk

Selena Belingbroke

Lead for External Engagement & Strategic Development, Goldsmiths, University of London
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Opportunity knocks? Nurturing your creativity for applying policy

Finding the signal in the noise and seeing the opportunities in HE policy. Tuesday - 3.15pm Learning to Wonk (603) Shabana Akhtar and Annis Mapleston Show

With so much change in HE policy, it can be hard to find time to see the upside in any new developments. This session will explore how institutions digest policy by bringing together policy experts, strategic thinkers and data analysts to better understand policy implications. The session will be a masterclass covering how policy, strategic planning and performance management come together as one thereby allowing an institution to consider how policy directly and indirectly influences strategic thinking. There'll also be a presentation on how TEF has influenced a university's approach to strategy and metric performance. This session is in association with HESPA, the representative body for those working in strategy and planning in UK higher education. Visit HESPA's website.

Shabana Akhtar

Deputy Director, Strategic and Business Planning Office, Oxford Brookes University

Annis Mapleston

Policy and Strategy Manager, Birmingham City University
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Wonk Corner

Tips, tricks and toolkits from wonks for wonks.

Understanding 'generation snowflake'

Tuesday - 10.45am Wonk Corner Jim Dickinson Show

Current students are accused of being too emotionally vulnerable to face the reality of life and as such have been dubbed the 'snowflake generation'. With ongoing debates about freedom of speech vs. hate speech, statues of controversial figures and the value of safe spaces, Jim Dickinson looks to help universities grapple with their role helping students.

Jim Dickinson

Chief Executive of the University of East Anglia Students' Union
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Branding and differentiation in higher education

Tuesday - 11.45am Wonk Corner Dan Benyon, Ed Layt and Ann Fernandez Show

Higher education institutions face the challenge of an increasingly competitive domestic and international marketplace. In response, universities are working hard to achieve distinction and develop their own effective brand strategies. In 2016, SMRS published a global research paper on the importance of branding in Higher Education (‘Branding in HE – an inside view’). Wonkfest sees the launch of the 2nd wave of this research and this session gives delegates first look at the outputs. The research provides information as to the priorities, strategies and tactics being delivered by HEIs from all over the world.

Dan Beynon

Head of Education, SMRS

Ed Layt

Marketing Strategist, SMRS

Ann Fernandez

Director of Marketing, Bournemouth University
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The professionalisation of data

Tuesday - 12.30pm Wonk Corner Andy Youell Show

Wonkhe regular Andy Youell will discuss the challenges and opportunities that providers face in the professionalisation of their data operations and set out current thinking about approaches to improving your data capability.

Andy Youell

Director of Data Policy & Governance
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The changing face of international recruitment

Tuesday - 2.00pm Wonk Corner Katie Duncan and Jonah Duffin Show

Geopolitical changes over the last two years have shaken up the global student market. What has happened? We trace cause and effect, through search data to recruitment statistics.

Katie Duncan

Head of Communications at Hotcourses Group

Jonah Duffin

Chief Marketing Officer at Hotcourses Group
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How to craft the perfect job advert

Tuesday - 3.30pm Wonk Corner Global Academy Jobs Show

GA jobs wonkfest wonkhe Global Academy Jobs manage Wonkhe job listings, alongside GlobalAcademyJobs.com, and will give you tips and tools for the perfect job advert - to get the Wonk you need.
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The Guardian Stage

On their relaxed and conversational stage The Guardian will lead discussions and masterclasses on the media and HE.

Welcome to Wonkfest!

Tuesday - 9.30am The Guardian Stage Team Wonkhe Show

A quick guide to getting the most from Wonkfest, navigating the programme and getting around.
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Masterclass: how to make sure your story makes a splash

Tuesday - 9.45am The Guardian Stage David Kernohan, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Richard Adams Show


Richard Adams

The Guardian's education editor

Lucy Hunter Blackburn

Writer and former civil servant

David Kernohan

Associate Editor at Wonkhe
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Masterclass: how to write an opinion piece that gets people going

Tuesday - 1.15pm The Guardian Stage Rachel Hall, Sonia Sodha and Nona Buckley-Irvine Show

This masterclass will help you develop writing and blogs that are guaranteed to start a debate in HE. Our experienced panel will talk about their experiences of getting a reaction to pieces they have written.

Rachel Hall

Editor of The Guardian Higher Education Network

Sonia Sodha

Chief Leader Writer, The Observer

Nona Buckley-Irvine

Former Policy Assistant at Wonkhe and previously General Secretary at LSE Students' Union
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Are women doing better in the media than in HE?

Tuesday - 2.45pm The Guardian Stage Rachel Hall, Shân Wareing and Wendy Berliner Show

We've moved on from male-dominated newsrooms and gentlemen scholars, but women in both the media and higher education still have battles to fight. There are too few women at the top, a sizeable gender pay gap and instances of macho culture. So who's doing better, and why? An experienced journalist and a pro vice-chancellor discuss.

Rachel Hall

Editor of The Guardian Higher Education Network

Wendy Berliner

Writer, journalist and Joint CEO at the Education Media Centre

Shân Wareing

Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Student Experience, London South Bank University
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Wonkfest Countdown

6th - 7th November

46Days 08Hours 33Mins 33Secs
Book your tickets