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This is a past event from 15 June 2023, 9:30am - 5:00pm (BST)
They are unavailable to book
Over the past few months, there have been many unprecedented political developments. Join us for our annual conference that aims to give insights into the current political landscape and forthcoming political priorities for the sector.
Key experts will discuss pertinent challenges for the sector such as globalisation, public perceptions of universities, and the future of higher education funding. We also will be running practical workshop sessions such as engaging in local politics, what makes a good case study and preparing for the general election.
If you have any questions about this or any other of our events, please contact us at email@example.com or +44 (0) 20 7419 5459.
We allow delegates to cancel their bookings up to one month before the event and receive a refund. If this applies to you, please contact us at the email or phone number above.
If national rail strikes are called for the date of this event, we will be in touch with all registered delegates to advise of changes to the event, which may include rescheduling or moving the event fully online. If you are unable to make the rescheduled date, or are unhappy with the alternative format, you will be able to cancel your place and request a full refund instead.
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Room: Woburn Hall
Universities UK's Chief Executive, Vivienne Stern will open the sessions with some remarks on the current political environment while looking ahead to a general election – and the role of universities in shaping a new narrative.
In this keynote address we will hear from political editor Kate McCann on the current state of play in Westminster, and how policies and attitudes towards universities fit into this broader political landscape.
This session will explore the politics of immigration, and how the current environment is shaping immigration policy when it comes to international staff and students in UK universities. The session will feature recent polling on the public’s perceptions of international students as well as the challenges posed to the sector – from local services to global relations.
We welcome Alison Wolf to the conference to draw on her varied and impressive career to date, including her time in 10 Downing Street. Alison and Vivienne will discuss her perspectives on the future of post-16 education, the role and direction of the Lifelong Loan Entitlement (LLE), and how universities are placed to upskill the country, boost the economy and operate in a potentially new political environment.
These workshop sessions are designed to be interactive and collaborative for all those that attend the event in person. They will arm you with practical takeaways to inform your work. Please note these sessions will not be streamed online. There will be sessions running concurrently and you will choose one to attend:
What makes a good case study? - with Jacqui Bowen, Associate Director of Strategic Communications, Swansea University and Louella Houldcroft, Director of Communications, Newcastle University (Room: Bloomsbury)
Room: Woburn Hall
Universities UK's President Professor Steve West will introduce Ipsos who will present polling commissioned exclusively for the conference, on how the higher education sector fits into this broader context and what the public think of the higher education sector. This will be alongside public polling of the wider political backdrop for England, Scotland and Wales currently, highlighting what is most on the public’s minds.
This session will discuss the future of funding for higher education, focusing on what the differing political viewpoints are, and how universities can influence the conversation. We will hear various views on this issue, including an international comparison and how policies on tuition fees may evolve.
Join us after the event for a networking reception in the Woburn House foyer.
Associate Director of Strategic Communications
Jacqui Bowen is Associate Director of Strategic Communications at Swansea University since June 2020. Previously she worked as Head of Strategic Communications for 9 years at the same university. She is a qualified and experienced PR professional with a proven track record developing and delivering communications strategies. Vast experience in external and internal communications, media relations, web and social media development, publications and event management. An in-depth understanding of devolution and a network of key political and media contacts.
Emeka is an advocacy consultant, helping non-profits, academics, and purpose-driven companies communicate and influence more effectively. With broad experience in policy, campaigns, public affairs, and communications, Emeka uses a range of tools to mobilise policymakers and mass public audiences — helping to shape attitudes and drive action. Since establishing his independent practice, Emeka has advised a range of clients, and helped to lead major campaigns including the Big Help Out, which saw 6.5 million people have a go at volunteering. He previously worked for several leading strategic communications and political consulting agencies, representing clients including Newcastle University, Google DeepMind, and AstraZeneca, as well as working for children’s charity Barnardo’s
Founding Partner and Director
James Frayne is a Founding Partner at public policy research agency, Public First. James oversees the organisation’s opinion research and strategy development. Before setting up Public First in 2016, James worked in a range of policy and communications roles in the UK and US. He was Director of Communications at the Department for Education at the height of the Government’s reform programme after the 2010 election, and was subsequently Director of Policy at the think tank Policy Exchange.
Amelia was appointed Dean International of the University of Surrey in January 2021, leading the International Engagement Office in supporting the strategic goals of the university on partnership with other universities and networks world-wide, enhanced cutting-edge research cooperation, as well as staff/student mobility. Amelia joined the University of Surrey in January 2019 as Head of the Department of Politics, and Chair in European and International Affairs. Previously she worked as Director of the Centre for European Studies (CEFEUS), a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence at Canterbury Christ Church Uni (2013-2018), after positions in Brussels at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels and the Institute for European Studies, where she directed the Euromaster degree, as well as the Educational Development (EDU). Amelia is a long-standing Jean Monnet Chair in European Foreign Affairs, researching, teaching, consulting & postgrad supervising on EU foreign policy, EU-UK relations. Her areas of expertise include Common Security and Defence Policy, EU-Russia Energy Relations, EU Neighbourhood Policy, EU Development policy (with a focus on sub-Saharan Africa), EU relations with the US and Canada, Arctic & northern governance issues, and European energy governance. Additional areas of interest include foreign policy analysis, international and diplomatic history, the role of sovereignty in political history, International Relations theory, international political economy, public policy analysis, the Commonwealth and EU education policy. Amelia is regularly called upon as a guest speaker, external supervisor, research partner, consultant and media pundit on areas of EU foreign affairs, and of late, EU-UK relations.
Professor Amelia Hadfield is a regular commentator on a wide range of media outlets, including: BBC World Service, BBC News24, Radio 5Live, BBC Radio London, BBC Asian Network, BBC Radio Ulster, Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). TV appearances include BBC One, BBC News Channel, BBC Arab Network, Victoria Derbyshire Show, RussiaToday, and various outlets in Asia.
Amelia’s various blogs on a range of British and European topics are googleable; more recent ones available on the SurreyBlog page: https://blogs.surrey.ac.uk/politics/ and on The Conversation.
Political Affairs Manager
Methela manages UUK’s day-to-day engagement with parliamentarians and government, ensuring our priorities are communicated to key decision makers. She also manages the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Universities.
She has worked in public affairs, policy and campaigning for eight years. Prior to joining UUK, Methela worked for several health charities and a medical royal college, influencing a range of issues, including tackling workforce shortages in the NHS and increasing investment in cardiovascular disease research.
Methela enjoys working collaboratively with teams across UUK on a variety of issues, from tackling harassment on campuses to widening access and participation - no two days are the same!
Director of Communications
Louella leads the central communications teams at Newcastle University. After 10 years in print journalism, she took up a position as Senior Communications Manager at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust before moving to Newcastle University as Head of Media Relations. She is Co-Chair of the Russell Group Communications Directors Network.
Assistant Director, Political Affairs
Karmjit Kaur leads the political affairs team at UUK, managing the relationships with ministers, advisers and other political stakeholders, and the UUK’s influencing among parliamentarians and key policymakers.
She has 15 years' experience in public affairs, political campaigning and influencing, and communications. Before working in higher education, she worked in the health and international development sectors, working on a range of political campaigns including the government's child obesity strategy, reducing child poverty and bringing down maternal mortality rates in developing countries.
She enjoys the collaborative, team-work environment at UUK, alongside the opportunity to work with universities to offer the best life-changing university experience to those who have considered it to be out of reach. She also values the inclusive culture and environment at Universities UK, prioritising an open and safe space to discuss issues and challenges that affect us all, beyond just our day-to-day jobs – including the UUK’s Women and Gender Equality Network and community volunteering policies.
Director of Research and Head of Education and Science
Iain Mansfield is Director of Research and Head of Education and Science at Policy Exchange. He is a former Special Adviser to three Education Ministers, including Education Secretary Gavin Williamson and Universities Ministers Jo Johnson and Michelle Donelan. Prior to that he has held a variety of senior positions in the private and public sector, including as a Senior Civil Servant at the Department for Education, as Director of UK Trade and Investment, The Philippines in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and as Head of Public Sector at the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants. He has served as a University Governor and as a Director of a British Chamber of Commerce.
Senior Public Affairs Officer
Megan is Senior Public Affairs Officer at LSE, overseeing multiple legislative and research impact projects.
She works closely with the School’s Vice Chancellor and PVCs, managing keynote events, speaking opportunities and partnerships with politicians, think tanks, businesses and universities across the UK. She also supports many senior academics to influence policy effectively, focusing on regional growth, skills and economic development.
She previously worked in Parliament for two MPs, including the Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, after a brief stint in the Civil Service. When not exploring the delights of Valencia, Megan is planning toddler-friendly, UK-based adventures.
Kate McCann is a British journalist. She has been the political editor of TalkTV since April 2022. McCann was previously a political correspondent for Sky News between 2018 and 2022 and The Daily Telegraph's senior political correspondent between 2015 and 2018.
Head of Public Affairs
Steve is the Head of Public Affairs at UCLA since January 2022.
A big part of his role is developing a programme to raise the profile and understanding of UCL’s world-class research, education, and knowledge exchange with policymakers and those who support or influence them.
His team is also providing insight and advice through briefings, presentations and workshops on key policy developments and trends.
His previous role was working as a senior public affairs consultant for the Society of Occupational Medicine. The CEO and Steve worked closely to secure a meeting with Keir Starmer, persuaded Labour to call for all NHS workers to have access to occupational medicine and persuaded the government to create a new ‘Centre for Work and Health’.
Political Affairs Officer
Since graduating from Manchester Metropolitan University in International Relations and Spanish in 2017, Joe has worked as a teaching assistant, disability support worker, and more recently in public affairs for an EU trade association in Brussels and for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in York.
Within Universities UK, he was Campaigns Coordinator before taking on his current role as Political Affairs Officer.
He loves sharing the positive impact of the UK's universities and helping to support institutions create real change for the communities they serve and wider society.
Chief of Staff, Director of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor
Chris Price is the Chief of Staff at the Australian National University, and Director of the Office of the Vice-Chancellor. In this capacity he takes broad responsibility for overseeing the Vice-Chancellor's Portfolio, including the University's Commonwealth and Government engagement team and ANU Communications and Engagement. He is a member of the Executive and the Senior Management Group of the University.
Chris took on this role in 2016, after four years as Senior Advisor and Chief of Staff at the University of Newcastle, NSW, where he led government relations, was primary advisor to the Vice-Chancellor and President and interim University Secretary. He began his career in the UK at the University of Warwick, and spent eight years in leadership roles at the University of London, including four years managing international relations for the UCL Institute of Education including a secondment at the British Council in Hong Kong in 2009.
Chris completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Warwick, holds an MBA in Higher Education Management from the UCL Institute of Education at the University of London, and was recently awarded the Public Leadership Credential (with distinction) from the Harvard Kennedy School. He also holds qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in the UK, and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Director of Communications
Julian Roberts join the UUK in 2023 as Director of Communications. He has considerable background in communications including corporate affairs, public awareness and brand and reputation management.
He has worked across several sectors including local and central government, performing arts, sustainability and energy, science, and higher education.
Before joining Universities UK he was Global Head of Communications at the Royal Society of Chemistry and before that Head of Communications at the Energy Saving Trust.
He is passionate about making a positive difference to society and he knows the huge role universities play in making a difference to people’s lives in so many ways.
Eloise is a Researcher at the Fabian Society, focussing her research on higher education policy alongside climate change and equalities. Previously she worked as Events and Digital Assistant at the Fabian Society, organising policy discussion panels and roundtables at Labour Party conference and the Society’s New Year conference. Eloise holds a BSc in Politics with Economics from the University of Bath, where she was actively involved in student politics and journalism - campaigning on issues from mitigating circumstances reform to greater awareness of LGBT+ issues, and holding the position of Deputy Editor (Online) at Bath Time Magazine.
Associate Director, Public First and former Head of Private Office
Yasmeen has worked as a close advisor to Keir Starmer for five years, most recently as his head of private office and forward planning. As well as managing his relationships with a wide range of stakeholders including the shadow cabinet and senior business leaders, she also directed Labour’s strategic grid to plot campaigns, media interventions and policy announcements at both a national and local level. She has recently joined Public First as an Associate Director in the Social Policy team and she joined Public First from MHP where she led their Labour engagement work.
Head of Politics Research
Gideon Skinner is Head of Politics Research in Public Affairs at Ipsos where he has worked since 1997. He leads on our research into cross-cutting issues that face all public services, such as public service reform, trust, and research into many political and social trends. As Head of Political Research, Gideon has also been involved in our coverage and analysis of every general election since 1997. Gideon contributes to many of our published thought leadership reports, including our Understanding Society publication, our regular Global Advisor international polling series, and is part of the Ipsos Thinks team.
He has presented data to many interested audiences and conferences both in the UK and overseas, to Cabinet Ministers, senior civil servants, business people, and students and schoolchildren, as well as appearing on TV and radio to discuss public opinion on current affairs.
Chief Executive Officer
Vivienne Stern took up the role of UUK Chief Executive in September 2022. She was previously the Director of Universities UK International which represents UK universities around the world. Vivienne has over 20 years’ experience of working in HE policy and politics at national and international level. Prior to her role in UUKi, Vivienne was Head of Political Affairs at Universities UK, and led the sector’s response to several major pieces of legislation relating to universities. Before that she worked for the Chair of the House of Commons Education Select Committee, and as policy specialist working on topics including quality, student experience, innovation and university-business links.
Deputy Director of Policy
As Deputy Director of the Policy group, Julie helps lead the team to address the most significant issues facing the higher education sector. She also leads our work on the financial sustainability of universities and climate action.
Julie started her career as an economist and has worked as an adviser for the New Zealand and UK governments. Since 2008, she has focused on higher education issues, working as a management consultant and as a senior policy analyst before joining UUK in 2012.
Vice-Chancellor, University of the West of England, and President, Universities UK
Professor Steve West CBE is the Vice-Chancellor, President, and Chief Executive of the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE).
At UWE, Steve is responsible for the strategic oversight, financial sustainability, and academic direction of the university. He has been Vice-Chancellor since 2008.
Steve is a Podiatric Surgeon by training and a Member of the Health Education England, Podiatry strategic oversight group. He is Chair of the West of England Academic Health Science Network (WEAHSN) and a Non-Executive Director on University Hospitals Bristol Foundation Trust Board. He has been a Non-Executive Director for the Office for Students and for HEFCE, and Chair of University.
Head of Policy
Amy is Head of Policy at the University of Sheffield, where she advises the Vice-Chancellor and other senior colleagues on the policy and political landscape, how to influence it and how to respond to it. Before working in higher education, Amy was Senior Parliamentary Assistant to Paul Blomfield MP, including during his time as Shadow Brexit Minister. Amy has also worked as a speechwriter at the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights and researcher for the UK government's Commission on a Bill of Rights.
Baroness Wolf of Dulwich, Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management
Professor the Baroness Alison Wolf CBE is the Sir Roy Griffiths Professor of Public Sector Management at King’s College London. She sits as a cross-bench peer (Baroness Wolf of Dulwich) in the UK House of Lords. She specialises in the relationship between education and the labour market.
Alison Wolf was seconded to central government as adviser on skills and workforce to the UK Prime Minister from spring 2020 to spring 2023. She was a panel member for the ‘Augar Review’: the independent Review of Post-18 Education and Funding chaired by Sir Philip Augar, which was appointed by the then-Prime Minister (Theresa May), and reported in 2019. In March 2011 she completed the Wolf Report which led to major reforms in vocational education for 14-18 year olds, and she was also a member of the Sainsbury Review which led to the creation of T-levels. In 2019 she delivered the annual King's lectures, on 'Universities. the economy and the state'.
Alison's books and monographs include The XX Factor: How Working Women Are Creating A New Society (Profile Books 2013); Remaking Tertiary Education (Resolution Foundation 2016) and Managers and academics in a centralising sector: the new staffing patterns of UK higher education (London: Policy Institute, King's College London 2021): she has also published widely in peer-reviewed applied economics and education journals.
This event is essential for anyone working in policy, public affairs and external stakeholder management in universities. Relevant job titles include:
Our monthly updates are a great way for you to stay up to date with our work, events, and higher education news.