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Enhancing the international student experience

15 Jun 2016, 09:00 - 16:30
20 Tavistock Square 
United Kingdon

Speaker biographies

Professor Robert Allison

Professor Bob Allison has been Vice-Chancellor and President of Loughborough University since 2012, leading an institution of over 20,000 people and a £300 million turnover on two campuses: Loughborough University in the East Midlands and Loughborough University London on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Previously he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Sussex University. Earlier in his career Bob held a chair in Geography at Durham University, where he was also a Head of Department and Dean.

Professor Allison has contributed to a number of organisations including the Natural Environment Research Council, Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills and Universities UK. Bob is currently President of UNITECH International and on the Board of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership. Professor Allison has been a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society since 1990, serving on many committees and being elected Honorary Secretary from 1997 to 2000. He has also been Chair of the British Society for Geomorphology.

Locally Bob is Vice-President of Leicestershire Scouts, President of Charnwood Athletics and an Honorary Canon Professor of Leicester Cathedral.

Stephen Williams

As Director, NTU Global, Stephen is responsible for embedding internationalisation at Nottingham Trent University (NTU). This includes strategic international partnerships, study abroad, summer schools, internationalisation at home and the global student experience. Previously, Stephen worked at the University of Warwick for 12 years in a variety of international roles including Head of Global Partnerships, Head of International Student Experience and Deputy Head of International Student Recruitment.

Stephen has co-authored a number of student experience publications, the most recent being Promoting Integration on Campus, published by UKCISA (2014). He founded the annual Warwick Integration Summit in 2012 to increase collaboration between universities and students’ unions on internationalisation. Stephen sits on a number of national and international working groups and is an elected member of the General Council of the European Association for International Education (EAIE).

Professor David Taylor

As Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor David Taylor is currently responsible for the University's International Strategy, the central theme of which is to become a University of International Renown. This encompasses the development of international partnerships, coordinating international admissions and being responsible for international student experience. Uniquely, the University’s International Office takes an holistic view of its activities and combines partnership development and student admissions with social, pastoral and academic support for international students, all from one combined team. This has enabled the University to grow its international reputation and to top the International Student Barometer for student experience.

David was awarded a chair in 1999 and now has over 30 years of experience in higher education. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the British Computer Society (BCS) and the Higher Education Academy (HEA).


Claire O'Leary, Assistant Director – Head of Global Student Experience,
Office for Global Engagement, University of Warwick

At Warwick, Claire is responsible for monitoring and enhancing the international student experience as well as internationalising the Warwick experience for all students. She has nearly 20 years of experience in international student support from her work at three UK universities. Claire has served two terms of office as a trustee on the board of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA), is co-chair of the Immigration Compliance Network and serves on the Mobility Advising Expert Community within the European Association for International Education (EAIE). Alongside her full-time job, Claire is currently studying for a part-time Master’s degree in Intercultural Communication at Warwick.


Professor Helen Spencer-Oatey

Helen Spencer-Oatey is Professor and Director of the Centre for Applied Linguistics at the University of Warwick, UK. Her primary research interests are in intercultural adaptation, the internationalisation of education, intercultural interaction, and intercultural pragmatics. She has published widely in these fields (e.g. Culturally Speaking, Continuum, 2000/2008; Intercultural Interaction, with Peter Franklin, Palgrave, 2009) and has also developed extensive resources for practitioners, many of which are freely available via the University of Warwick’s Global PAD website.  Her most recent research has focused on internationalization in higher education, including the integration of home and international students, working in mixed national student groups, and the development of global skills. In collaboration with Daniel Dauber, she has developed the Global Education Profiler (GE-P), a diagnostic tool for identifying how global the university learning environment is. 


Brian Hipkin

Brian Hipkin is the CEO and Owner of ReFRAME HE Consultancy, having been Dean of Students at Regent’s University London for the last five years. Prior to that, he was Director of Student Services at the University of East London (UEL) for five years. He moved to UEL from Middlesex University where he had been Dean of Students since 1997. This followed on a successful career as an academic and researcher.

Brian has worked for the EU as an advisor in Azerbaijan, advised universities in Greece, Egypt and worked widely as a consultant in the UK. He has lead workshops, delivered keynotes and written extensively on the student experience and on the role of social media, been a regular columnist and reviewer for a number of journals and magazines, he was also a consultant for Channel Four. For the last six years he has been an executive member and later Vice-Chair of AMOSSHE (the student services organisation). ​He is the UK representative on the EU Council for Student Affairs, and in 2015 was nominated to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) for his work in education.

Dr. Jon Howden-Evans

As the Head of Swansea Employability Academy at Swansea University, Dr Jon Howden-Evans oversees delivery of employability and enterprise support to 14,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, including Engineering, Medicine, Arts and Humanities. The Academy coordinates a central careers service and innovative engagement initiatives between Academic Colleges and the Students’ Union. Swansea University is rated a ‘Top 20’ Higher Education institution for graduate level employability.

Jon, a qualified company commercial solicitor, joined Swansea University 12 years ago to develop and teach a professional postgraduate diploma for law graduates wishing to enter practice. As part of this role he worked with employers to inform the skills agenda and placement learning. Jon has taught with the Open University and whilst working for a national law firm, he provided legal compliance and skills training to a range of clients. Jon is an external examiner for other institutions.

Peter Yetton

Pete Yetton has been at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) for over three years. During this time, he has successfully merged the international advisers with immigration compliance to create a new department with much wider scope of support.

He came into the sector from Law, where he was an Immigration, Asylum and Human Rights Solicitor since 2008, representing both students and colleges who experienced difficulties with the Home Office, due to the restrictive legislation that is periodically passed through Westminster. He is successfully re-framing compliance into a duty of care across GCU, to add value to all corners of all three campuses, and to complement GCU’s ambitious internationalisation strategy.

He regularly presents awareness sessions to the university and agent network and is a keynote speaker on more than four important circuits across the UK. With a solid understanding of the law and the value of people, Pete protects both the longevity of the business under Tiers 2, 4 and 5 together with the students - who are viewed as ‘academic partners’. Pete brings together over 25 years of experience across three sectors and three careers within Hospitality Management, the Royal Navy and Law, to good effect.

Dr. Stephanie Switzer

Dr Stephanie Switzer is currently Associate Dean (Postgraduate Taught) of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. She is academic within the Strathclyde Law School with a primary interest in global health law and international trade law. She previously ran a number of successful Masters programmes within the Strathclyde Law School including an LLM in International Law and Sustainable Development and is interested in how to enhance the employability aspects of postgraduate taught courses. She also has a general and longstanding interest in the development of blended and distance learning programmes.


Chris Whelan

Chris Whelan is the Executive Director of Universities New Zealand –Te Pōkai Tara, the representative body for New Zealand’s eight universities.

Universities New Zealand goal is to enhance the quality of our universities and their contribution - locally and nationally, to New Zealand’s social and economic growth.

Chris has significant management experience in the private, public and university sectors.  Before joining Universities New Zealand in January 2014, he spent three years at the University of Canterbury.  There he led a programme focused on the university’s recovery and transformation following the earthquakes.

Prior to that he held strategic management and corporate services positions with the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Agency for International Development (NZAID), and Shell Oil.

Chris holds an MA (Hons) in History from the University of Canterbury and an MBA from Victoria University of Wellington. He is a classically trained singer and his interests include history, wine, food, golf and travel.

Elaine Boyes

Elaine Boyes joined the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS) as Executive Director in January 2016, moving to the role after a short stint in higher education as the Head of External Relations for Hull York Medical School.

Prior to this role, she worked in membership organisations for over 12 years, running the Nuclear Institute, the professional body for the nuclear sector, and as Head of Publishing at the British Computer Society (BCS). She has previously been a Trustee of the Science Council and a Director of the Association of Professional and Learned Society Publishers (ALPSP).



David Gee

David is Head of Global Employability at UWE Bristol and Founder of GradLink UK, a careers site designed for international students studying in the UK, linking them with a global network of over 350 employers. GradLink won this year’s Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding International Student Strategy’.

David has travelled extensively across Asia, Africa and America to work with graduate employers and organisations for the development of the GradLink site, and has built a very strong understanding of overseas graduate job markets. David is regularly invited to speak about global employability international students at universities across the UK and recently opened the annual careers event for Mandarin-speaking students at Oxford University. He has also spoken at key employability conferences, including British Council events in the UK, Asia and Africa.


Johnny Luk

Johnny is the CEO of NACUE, which organises some of the largest student enterprise events in Europe, such as the Student Enterprise Conference. They work with entrepreneurial students across 260 UK campuses, supporting the development of student-led enterprise clubs and societies, to encourage an enterprising and entrepreneurial generation. NACUE is recognised by UNCTAD as a 'global best practice in youth-led enterprise models'. Johnny previously held roles as a Senior Policy Advisor, and Deputy Head of Strategy for Entrepreneurship in the UK Government. He was an alumnus of Lord Wei’s Diaspora Leadership Programme where he helped develop a research piece of UK-China branding. He is a graduate of Durham University.

Sanaa Busaidy-Hubert

Sanaa Busaidy-Hubert

Events Producer
Universities UK

Nuzhat Fatima

Nuzhat Fatima

Events Assistant
Universities UK

Rachael Firth

Rachael Firth

Head of Events and Engagement
Universities UK


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