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GDP: Governance for small, specialist or independent providers

London - Bush House – South East Wing, King’s College, WC2B 4PJ
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1 day
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Higher Education
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The higher education eco-system for small, specialist or independent providers is particularly distinctive. There are opportunities and challenges for universities and higher education colleges to co-operate and learn from one another.

Designed for:

The event is for Governors, Clerks and Secretaries working in small, specialist and independent provider institutions. Senior leaders are also welcome to attend if they have an interest in the topic.


Small, specialist and independent providers are an important part of the increasingly diverse higher education system in the UK. Run in conjunction with GuildHE, this event will explore some of the governance issues and challenges facing such institutions, including the strategic positioning of institutions and achieving good governance. The event will encourage participant networking and the sharing of best practice.

The event will examine:

  • What is the place of small and specialist institutions in the emerging system of higher education?
  • Governance in small and specialist institutions: making it proportional and effective.
  • The composition of governing bodies and their effectiveness: the balance of skills is required in specialist institutions and the challenges of securing a diverse (in all senses of the term) membership.

Event programme

09.30   Arrival: Registration and refreshments

10.00    Welcome and introductions
Aaron Porter, Associate Director Governance, Advance HE & Governor, Goldsmiths University & BPP University)

10.10    A changing policy landscape – impact for governors
Alex Bols, GuildHE & Governor, University College of Osteopathy 

10.50    Wellbeing and student mental health
Kate Wicklow, Policy Manager, GuildHE
Ross Renton, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Worcester 
Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive, Student Minds 
11.30     Refreshment break 

11.45    Dealing with uncertainty 
Richard Young, Director, Uniac
David Noyce, Chair, Plymouth College of Art
Josh Sanderson-Kirk, President, University of Law Students’ Union
Clarie Middleton, Principal, Rose Bruford College

13.00     Lunch

13.45    Practice informed learning 
Saad Qureshi, Dean, SAE Institute UK & Advance HE Board Member
Jason Mosher, SU President, University College of Osteopathy
Lynne Downey, Dean (Online Learning), University College of Estate Management 

14.30    Table discussions – what does an effective board look like to you? 

15.15     Event close  

Download Agenda

Governance for small, specialist or independent providers agenda


How to book

If you would like to attend GDP: Governance for small, specialist or independent providers, or would like to book a place for someone else, please select “book now”.

You'll be asked to log into MyLF using your MyLF identity. Once you're logged in MyLF will allow you to book yourself or select other delegates via a simple search option or add new delegates as required.

If you have any other queries please contact the Governance Team T: +44 (0) 3332 001 140

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. Working within a portfolio of roles including as 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 was 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. Outside of higher education, he has served on the board of directors for Endsleigh Insurance

He was previously president of the National Union of Students in 2010-11, during the high profile debate on tuition fees, appearing extensively in the media including BBC Question Time, Newsnight and the Politics Show. He also co-chaired the Beer/Porter Student Charter group which reported to the higher education minister David Willetts in January 2011, and was a member of the Higher Education Funding Council for England Online Learning Taskforce and the review of External Examiners chaired by Dame Janet Finch both conducted in 2010-2011.

Outside of higher education he is a school governor in South London, a member of the education committee for the General Chiropractic Council, the members panel for the National Employment and Savings Trust and a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. He is also a qualified football referee and a keen follower of cricket. In 2014, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Leicester in recognition of his contribution to higher education and the student experience.

Aaron Porter

Alex Bols, Deputy Chief Executive, GuildHE & member of the Board, University College of Osteopathy

Alex Bols is Deputy Chief Executive of GuildHE – one of the officially recognized representative bodies in UK higher education. He sits on various sector-wide groups including as a member of UK-wide Standing Committee on Quality Assessment, HEFCW’s Quality Assessment Committee, the Home Office’s Education Sector Forum and observing the QAA and Advance HE Boards.

He is Chair of Governors at Vittoria Primary School, on the Board of the University College of Osteopathy and the Bridge Satellite School and is currently doing his Doctor of Education on student representation at UCL’s Institute of Education. He was previously Executive Director of the 1994 Group, Head of Higher Education and Assistant Director (Research) at NUS and Secretary General of the European Students’ Union.

Alex Bols

Jason Mosher, SU President, University College of Osteopathy

After graduating Jason worked in a multi-disciplinary health clinic founded by a Naturopathic Doctor and a Physiotherapist. While there he provided physical rehab mainly to people that were injured in the work place in order to ensure that strength and mobility of an affected area returned to the patient prior to returning to work. As well as pre and post surgery patients in order to ensure the surgery could have a higher percentage chance of a positive outcome. Jason learned a great deal working with the practitioners that worked there and worked directly with the physiotherapist there and this is when he truly started to understand the importance of manual therapy. During his time there Jason shadowed an Osteopath in another clinic and saw the positive outcomes that these patients had as a result of the treatment. This is when he decided that if he wanted to be able to help people to the greatest extent, he would need to add manual therapy to his methodology of treatment.

Prior to his studies Jason was highly involved in sports, mainly focusing on ice hockey, rugby and golf. Seeing the number of injuries that occur in the sporting world was one of the sparks that lead him to Kinesiology. In the future Jason would like to work with high level sports teams. Jason would also like to be able to open up a clinic in his hometown. Osteopathy is young within Canada, however it is blossoming, and there is much need for more manual practitioners in the area. Jason hopes to be part of the movement to push the field forward based in scientific evidence with a strong governing body to regulate it.

Jason Mosher

Saad Qureshi, Dean, SAE Institute UK

Saad Qureshi is a rising BME leader in Higher Education and is one of the youngest Deans in the country at SAE Institute UK. A Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Association of University Administrators (AUA), his specialist expertise is in developing socially responsible graduates. He sits on the Board of Studies at the AUA and serves other charitable organisations. He is a module lead and lecturer at King’s College London, where he was previously Education Manager. Saad previously rose up the ranks at School of Economics and Law becoming Director Academics and Corporate Affairs.

Saad Qureshi

Joshua Sanderson-Kirk, President, University of Law Students’ Union

Joshua Sanderson–Kirk is the Student Association President at The University of Law. He works alongside a small team representing 8500 students across ULaw’s 11 locations. He was recently re-elected in the Student Association’s first contested election. As an historic institution in the legal sector, ULaw specialises in providing postgraduate vocational courses to Solicitors and Barristers. However with the launch of undergraduate degree programmes in 2012 and a business school in 2016 the need for a strong student voice grows at ULaw. Outside of work he plays rugby and is an advocate for LGBT+ rights. His twitter is @JoshSK1.

Joshua Sanderson-Kirk

Ross Renton, Pro Vice Chancellor, University of Worcester

Ross Renton is the Pro Vice Chancellor at the University of Worcester, UK. Ross has a wide range of responsibilities, including leading the strategy for delivering an outstanding student experience, which saw the University of Worcester shortlisted for Outstanding Support for Students (THE Awards 2018); widening participation and student success; partnerships (international, community and business); international student recruitment; resources (estates and facilities) and student/graduate employability. He represents the University at a national level on these issues and has been an advisor to several public and private organisations.

Ross regularly meets with the Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers and sits on a variety of committees and forums, where he is keen to ensure that students are active partners at all levels across the University.

A keen supporter of inclusion and widening access to higher education, Ross currently holds a variety of positions with external organisations, including Vice Chair of the Forum for Access and Widening Participation (FACE) and Non-Executive Director of Graduate Prospects and HECSU (independent research charity). Ross is also a member of the Open University’s Learning and Teaching Innovation Teaching Committee and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Arts (RSA). Most recently, Ross joined the national Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Subject Panel as a Widening Participation expert.

Ross’s research interests are in education policy and he has delivered papers on this work nationally and internationally. Ross is regularly invited to speak at conferences and write articles to share his knowledge on widening participation to HE, student retention, student engagement, HE policy and the University of Worcester’s ‘Suicide Safer Project’.

He is currently Chair of the Board of the UW Worcester Wolves, a professional basketball team and Co-Chair of the Severn Stars netball team. He can be followed on Twitter: @ross_renton

Ross Renton

Rosie Tressler, Chief Executive, Student Minds

Rosie joined Student Minds in 2013 after working in a range of student facing organisations. Rosie heads up our team at Student Minds, working closely with the trustees on strategy, managing key partnerships and working on funding and business development.

Rosie Tressler

David Noyce, Chair, Plymouth College of Art

David Noyce worked for over twenty years in a senior position at the funder and regulator of higher education in England, HEFCE. Latterly he was responsible for universities and colleges in London, Kent and the East of England and led HEFCE’s relations with the NHS and with specialist institutions.

Over a long career he directed major expansions of medical and dental education; was a prime mover in the Combined Universities in Cornwall partnership, a transformative project in one of the most deprived areas of the country; and initiated numerous regional projects addressing widening participation, research collaboration and reach out to business and the community.

David holds a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford and is a qualified teacher and community worker. He currently lives in Devon where he pursues his interests in philosophy, education, and Buddhist meditation. David is also a Governor of the University of East London and an Honorary Fellow of St George's University of London.

David Noyce

Richard Young, Director, Uniac

Richard is a Director at Uniac – a shared provider of risk and internal audit services for HEIs. Uniac works with institutions across the sector including a number of small specialists. Richard has focused on, in recent years, the demands on boards and committees which have become increasing relevant with the introduction of the OfS.

Richard Young

Lynne Downey, Vice Principal - Online Education, University College of Estate Management 

Lynne joined UCEM in January 2014 to develop the academic programmes into a fully online offer. She is now Vice Principal Online Education and leads the strategic approach to online learning and delivery of our learning technology and environments. Her team of instructional designers, graphic designer, editors, content developers and digital resources staff work closely with the academic staff to provide engaging learning material for our students.

Lynne has over 12 years’ experience in online education. She has worked in Higher Education and commercial training. Lynne has also taught at the OU as an associate lecturer in Psychology. She has an Information Technology and a Psychology degree and an MA in Online and Distance Education.

Lynne Downey

Clarie Middleton, Principal and Chief Executive, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance

Clarie Middleton FRSA is Principal and Chief Executive of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. She is an arts/cultural leader with over 30 years of experience across theatre, opera, musical theatre, dance and music of all kinds and, prior to moving to Rose Bruford, she was Chief Executive of the Hackney Empire where she successfully undertook a major change management programme. Other notable change management contracts have included the Bristol Old Vic, the Exeter Northcott, Watford Palace and Adzido Dance. She has also worked within the public funding sector at Arts Council England and as a trainer for the British Council. Her work has primarily been in London and the UK, but her international experience extends to the USA, Belgium, Hungary, Romania, Russia, Germany, Trinidad, South Africa and Japan. Diversity, access and inclusion are fundamental to her professional practice.

Clarie Middleton