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GDP: Student Governor (Autumn)

110 Rochester Row, Victoria, London SW1P 1JP
County / Region
United Kingdom
Position on the Pathway
Governor's Pathway
Fellowship Category
All Fellowship Categories
Event Type
Networking Events
Start Date
End Date
Day one of two standalone days and webinar
Institution Type
Higher Education and Further Education
Price From

Alternative dates

If you are unable to make this date but would like to attend, we are running an alternative date for this event in January 2020
Find out more

For new and returning Student Governors

For 2019-20 the Student Governor Development Programme will comprise of two standalone events and a webinar. This event forms part of our Governor Development Programme, supporting effective governance in higher education.

Progamme Structure

Day one will take place on 10 September 2019 and will equip incoming Student Governors with the skills to thrive in their new role as well as providing an update and networking space for returning Student Governors. 

Day two will take place on 23 January and will allow new and returning student governors to reflect on their year to date, provide further skills development and network mapping as well as preparing them for their end of year handover. Find out more here.

Participants will also have access to a webinar taking place late Autumn (date TBC). To get the most out of Student Governors, participants will ideally take part in both face-to-face activity days but each event can be booked separately if required.

Day one (Autumn) empowers Student Governors to make a major contribution to governing bodies. Placed at the beginning of the academic year, the programme prepares newly-appointed Student Governors for their first term as a member of the governing body. 

For returning Student Governors there is a dedicated strand of activity and content with a chance to reflect on the experiences of the previous year with expert facilitation and advice to maximise your contribution in your second year.

This will be a highly participative event, with case studies and discussion groups and will provide many opportunities for delegates to debate and discuss. The programme will feature a number of nationally-known keynote speakers, interactive exercises and an opportunity for participants to network with other Student Governors.

By the end of the event, student governors will explore:

  • Expectations of the student governor
  • The structure of a governing body
  • The collective responsibility of governing bodies
  • Managing conflicts of interest
  • How to be an effective student governor

The event will feature a number of nationally-known keynote speakers, interactive exercises and an opportunity for participants to network with student governors from other institutions across the UK, and to subsequently use these contacts to share matters of concern and seek guidance. This conference complements the acclaimed NUS summer training programme.

This event is for Student Governors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. A separate one-day event is scheduled for Scottish Student Governors.

Governors Pathway

Programme agenda

GDP: Student Governor Programme Agenda

10.00am - Welcome (Aaron Porter)

10.10am - What’s going on in HE policy and why it matters to Governors (Sofia Ropek, Associate Editor, Wonkhe)

10.50am -How does governance work? (Wendy Appleby, Registrar, University College London)

11.20am - What difference can governance make – and how can it go wrong? (Mike Ratcliffe, Academic Registrar, Nottingham Trent University)

11.50am - Break

12.10pm - Getting your head around the finances (Andrew McGettigan)

1.00pm - Lunch

2.00pm - Rubber stamp or lethal weapon: Can Student Governors lead institutional change? (Jim Dickinson)

2.45pm - Coping with the paperwork and asking killer questions (Aaron Porter and Jim Dickinson)

4.15pm - Exercise feedback

4.45pm - Closing remarks


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

Wendy Appleby

Registrar and Head of Student & Registry Services, UCL

Wendy Appleby is Registrar and Head of Student & Registry Services at University College London (UCL), a post she has held since April 2014.  In January 2015, Wendy became Secretary to the UCL Council.  Wendy has worked in higher education administration for over 30 years, primarily in functions related to student administration, academic and corporate governance.  Before joining UCL, Wendy spent eight years as Secretary to Council and Academic Registrar at Queen Mary University of London; she has worked in a further five higher education institutions in London. 

At UCL, the Registrar provides leadership to a division of around 260 staff, organised across three departments, providing a range of services to students and staff, which include access and admissions, student support and wellbeing, academic and governance services, and student administration.  In addition, the Registrar leads on governance matters and manages UCL’s compliance with external requirements, including the Office for Students, UKVI, Prevent and UKRI.

Wendy Appleby

Mike Ratcliffe

Academic Registrar, Nottingham Trent University

Mike Ratcliffe is Academic Registrar at Nottingham Trent University. He has also held similar roles at three other universities.  His interest in university administration started as a student representative, becoming a sabbatical officer before being appointed to roles in quality assurance. He’s returned to study higher education at postgraduate level, and is particularly interested in its history (about which he blogs). He also writes about HE regulation, focusing on the OfS and its new role.

Mike Ratcliffe

Jim Dickinson
Associate Editor, Wonkhe

Jim Dickinson is an Associate Editor at Wonkhe where he takes a particular interest in students, governance and higher education regulation and leads on our work with students’ unions.

Jim is a former long standing director at the National Union of Students, where he led on students’ union development, campaigns and political strategy, student engagement and governance.

He was also CEO at the students’ union at UEA in Norwich, acting as the lead staff member on behalf of the elected student officers of the union providing strategic management for the union’s charitable and commercial vehicles and policy support for the officers.

Jim has served as a Governor in both further and higher education and the voluntary sector, and is a regular contributor to AdvanceHE’s leadership skills for governance programme. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and an obsessive fan of the Eurovision Song Contest.

Jim Dickinson

Andrew McGettigan
Freelance higher education writer

Andrew McGettigan lives in London and writes on higher education, mathematics, philosophy and the arts. He is the author of The Great University Gamble: money, markets & the future of higher education (Pluto, 2013) and a HEPI pamphlet on student and accounting for Higher Education Policy Institute (May 2015). His writing on higher education has appeared in the Guardian, the Observer, Times Higher Education, Research Fortnight, and Radical Philosophy. He blogs on higher education financing and policy at

He is co-founder of the Fine Art Maths Centre at Central Saint Martins and teaches the history and philosophy of mathematics at City Literary Institute. He holds a doctorate from the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy.

Andrew McGettigan

Dr Sofia Ropek
Associate Editor at Wonkhe 

Sofia is a former Graduate Union President at the University of Cambridge, where she worked on postgraduate policy. Sofia is particularly interested in policy relating to postgraduate students, gender and mental health. 

Sofia Ropek