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GDP: Clerks and Secretaries Network Event

County / Region
United Kingdom
Position on the Pathway
Governor's Pathway
Fellowship Category
Event Type
Virtual Networking Event
Start Date
End Date
1 day
Institution Type
Higher Education and Further Education
Price From


For Registrars, Clerks, Secretaries and governance professionals.

Secretaries and Clerks are pivotal to board success. This event provides those new and continuing in the role an opportunity to work together on issues critical for their own professional contribution and that of their governors.

Governing bodies and senior management teams depend on professional staff, including Clerks and Secretaries to manage the changes required to meet the needs of an evolving operating environment. The meeting of the national network of governance professionals brings together these individuals, who are often expected to inform and advise governing bodies on changes affecting their roles and responsibilities.

This annual networking event is organised in partnership with the  Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) and will consist of presentations from leading figures in governance.

The event will also explore a range of other topics such as:
•    Issues of higher education governance that have emerged over the last 12 months and remain challenging, and scenarios for the future shape of the higher education sector.
•    Lessons to be learned from what has happened in governance in other sectors over the last year. 
•    Lessons from effectiveness reviews.
•    Approaches to supporting the induction and professional development of governing body members.
•    Keeping abreast of new developments and responsibilities for governing bodies (including academic governance)
•    Managing relationships, both on the governing body and in the institution.



10.00am  - Introduction - Aaron Porter, Associate Director Governance, Advance HE and Chair, BPP University & Governor, Goldsmiths University of London

10.15am - Policy landscape - Diana Beech, Chief Executive Officer, London Higher
11.00am - Break

11.15am - Panel of Chairs - Higher education governance - the challenges that lie ahead and what can we do about it

Jane Hamilton, Chair of Council, University of Essex
Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE, Chair of the Council of Queen Mary University of London

12.00pm - Break

12.20pm - Lessons learned from remote governance during covid - perspectives from a Secretary, SU President and Governor

Dorothy Chirwa, President, Newcastle University Students' Union  

Alison Jones, University Secretary, University of Huddersfield 

1.00pm - Break out discussions - lessons from remote governance

1.45pm - Feedback

2.00pm - Close


Aaron Porter, Associate Director Governance, Advance HE

Aaron Porter is the Associate Director (Governance) for Advance HE leading on engagement with governing bodies and governance across the UK, including leading reviews of board effectiveness. He has worked with over 75 universities both in the UK and overseas, as well as projects for national governments focused on higher education. His portfolio of roles includes Director of Insights for the Hotcourses Group and as an external adviser to Civitas Learning. He is a member of the governing council at Goldsmiths, University of London and is Chair of the Board of Governance at Nelson College, a specialist higher education college in East London. 

He has previously served on the council of the University of Leicester, and the boards of a number of higher education sector bodies including Higher Education Funding Council for England, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the Higher Education Academy and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator. 

He was previously President of the National Union of Students in 2010-11, during the high profile debate on tuition fees. He also co-chaired the Beer/Porter Student Charter group which reported to the Higher Education Minister, David Willets, in January 2011.

Aaron Porter

Speakers and panel

Diana Beech, Chief Executive Officer at London Higher

Diana is an established higher education policy professional, currently working as CEO of London Higher - the umbrella organisation representing 40 London universities and higher education colleges.

Previously, Diana served as Head of Government Affairs at the University of Warwick and Policy Adviser to the last three UK Universities and Science Ministers. She was also the first Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). 

Diana Beech

Jane Hamilton, Chair of Council, University of Essex

Jane Hamilton has 25 years of experience at a senior executive level in major global banks, investment management and property corporations across multiple geographies. 

She is currently a non-executive director of the Government Property Agency, and Walberswick Car Parks Limited as well as a coach to developing executives. From 2015 to 2019 she was also on the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Cancer Research. Prior to these appointments, she was the European Head of Corporate Real Estate for HSBC. 

Before moving to the United Kingdom in 2009, Jane lived in Australia and held the roles of Global Head of Corporate Real Estate for ANZ Bank, Managing Director of Commercial and Industrial Management at AMP Henderson Global Investors as well as senior property leadership roles with Jones Lang LaSalle and Lend Lease Corporation. 

Jane Hamilton

Lord Tim Clement-Jones CBE, Chair of the Council of Queen Mary University of London

Lord Clement-Jones is a Consultant of DLA Piper where former positions held include London Managing Partner (2011-16), Head of UK Government Affairs, Chairman of its China and Middle East Desks, International Business Relations Partner and Co-Chairman of Global Government Relations.

Tim is Chair of the Council of Queen Mary University of London and Chair of the Advisory Council of the Institute for Ethical AI in Education, led by Sir Anthony Seldon. He is a former Chair of the Council of the School of Pharmacy, University of London (2008-12) before its merger with University College London, whereupon he became an external member of the Council of University College London and Chair of its Audit Committee from 2012-17.

Lord Clement-Jones

Alison Jones, University Secretary, University of Huddersfield 

Alison joined the University of Huddersfield in January 2020 and has worked in professional higher education administration, leadership and management for 25 years. Alison was previously at Oxford Brookes University providing interim leadership and guidance on strategic and operational planning, and prior to that she was University Secretary and Director of Planning, Legal and Governance at the University of Bradford.

Alison studied for an undergraduate degree in Literature and Philosophy at Middlesex University and for a Master’s in Strategic Decision Making at the University of Leeds, specialising in research and analysis into University governance structures and decision making following the publication of the Dearing Report.

Alison Jones

Find out more about our other governance events

Governor Development Programme and events