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Governance Conference 2019

Professionalising Governance in Higher Education Advance HE’s Annual Governance Conference 2019 will place the spotlight firmly on governance in a dynamic and changing environment. This year, our national conference will focus on 'Professionalising Governance in Higher Education'. The conference will examine the challenges and solutions for professionalising HE governance, embedding diversity into governance, debate the crucial issue of board room culture and draw upon experiences and insights both from other sectors and nations.
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For Governors, professional support staff and policymakers, the Governance Conference provides a forum to share practice and discuss key and emerging areas of governance. 

This year, our national conference will focus on 'Professionalising Governance in Higher Education'. It is designed for Governors of HEIs and members of the professional support teams who work with Governors and offers a forum to enable Governors, professional support staff and policymakers to share and discuss key and emerging areas of governance.

The conference will look beyond the sector, addressing practice, developments and insights and exploring whether and how these can be adopted in HE. With a mix of plenary, workshop and panel sessions the event offers an opportunity for those committed to professionalising governance to network with senior peers, engage with the issues of the moment and take new ideas and insights back to their institution.


Read about the highlights from the Annual Governance Conference 2018 here.


Keynote Speakers

Date: 28 November 2019
Venue: Radisson Blu Edwardian, Bloomsbury, London
Who: Chairs, governors, governance professionals and senior executive staff in HE

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David Isaac

David is the Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and is also the Chair of the Court of Governors at University of the Arts London. David is also a partner at the international law firm Pinsent Masons.

David has worked in the equality and human rights field for over 25 years in his roles as Chair of Stonewall and as as a Trustee of The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

In his various roles, David speaks frequently about the importance of diversity and human rights. He was awarded a CBE in the 2011 Queen's Birthday Honours list for services to equality and diversity and was ranked 27th in the OUTstanding Top 100 LGBT executives published by the FT in October 2018. David has also been recognised as Diversity Role Model in the legal sector by The Lawyer. 

David Isaacs

Charlotte Valeur

Charlotte Valeur has extensive experience in financial markets as an investment banker and is an experienced Non-Executive Director and Chair. 

She is a regular international public speaker in and has delivered training in corporate governance globally. In addition, she conducts board reviews and advices boards on corporate governance through her company Global Governance Group. 

Charlotte has substantial board experience formerly as Chair of FTSE250 Kennedy Wilson Europe Real Estate Plc, Chair of DW Catalyst Fund Ltd,  NED of Renewable Energy Generation Ltd and NED of FTSE250 3i Infrastructure Plc. She is currently Chair of Blackstone/GSO Loan Financing Ltd, NED of NTR Plc, NED of JPMorgan Convertibles Income Fund Ltd, NED of Phoenix Spree Deutschland Ltd, NED of Laing O’Rourke Ltd and FSN Capital. She is also Chair and founder of Board Apprentice and Chair of Institute of Directors.

Event Facilitator

Charlotte Valeur

Aaron Porter

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. 


Panel Discussion

Aaron Porter

Irene Birrell

Irene Birrell has been College Secretary at King’s College London since May 2017 and has been working in university governance for almost 40 years, having previously served in the same role at three Canadian universities.

As College Secretary at King’s, she works closely with the Council’s leadership as well as the senior executive leaders of the university, providing strategic advice and support on a range of governance and policy development matters.

In addition to responsibility for the work of both the Council and the Academic Board and their various committees, her team has oversight of internal audit, business assurance, records management, access to information and protection of privacy, and legal matters.

Irene Birrell

Alec Cameron

Professor Alec Cameron is Vice Chancellor of Aston University.  Previously he was Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Western Australia and Dean of the Australian School of Business, overseeing its emergence from the integration of academic units at the University of New South Wales.

Alec is currently Chair of Universities West Midlands and a member of UUK’s International Policy Network, as well as the university representative for the Midlands Engine and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP.

A Rhodes Scholar, Alec holds a BSc and Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. He has a University Medal from the University of Sydney, a DPhil from Oxford University, and an MSc from Polytechnic Institute, New York University.

The remaining panel members will be confirmed shortly. 


Workshop Presenters

Alec Cameron

Tony Strike

Dr Tony Strike is University Secretary at the University of Sheffield. He was successively Director of HR at Portsmouth NHS Hospitals Trust, then at the University of Southampton, before being appointed Director of Strategy and Planning at Southampton and subsequently at Sheffield, becoming Secretary in July 2017. Tony is editor of ‘Higher Education Strategy and Planning: a professional guide’ (2018) and co-editor of ‘Governing Higher Education Today: international perspectives’ (2019) both published by Routledge. He is an elected member of the executive boards of HESPA (the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association) and EAIR (the European Association of Institutional Research). 

Tony Strike

Chris Sayers

Chris Sayers is the Chair of the Committee of University Chairs, and has been Chair of Northumbria University since 2012. Chris became Chair of CUC in April 2017, and has overseen the introduction the new CUC remuneration code and has worked closely with HEFCE, DFE and the OFS in helping to shape the governance requirements of the new regulatory framework. Since retiring from BT in 2012 where he ran a major IT services division for BT Global Services, he has increasingly spent his time working in areas where education can be used drive social mobility and increase opportunities for young, disadvantaged people. As such, apart from the leadership role that he occupies in HE, he is also on the board of a Social Enterprise, called Building Futures East, which works with young people in disadvantaged parts of Newcastle to help social change through skills training and, with his wife Tessa, he runs a charity that operates two children's homes and a school for very poor children in Southern India, with the aim of using education to break the poverty cycle. Chris is currently a Non-exec director of; Northumberland County Council’s development corporation, two IT companies and is the Chair of the Alnwick Playhouse Theatre.

Chris Sayers

Paul Cleal

Paul has a portfolio of non-executive roles which reflect his interest in education, diversity and social mobility. He is Vice Chair of the Board at Kingston University which has been recognised for its work in tackling the ethnic minority attainment gap in higher education through its Inclusive Curriculum. He is a board member of the National Citizen Service Trust, an advisor to the Premier League on equality, diversity and inclusion and an Advisory Board member of the Centre for Social investigation, based at Nuffield College, Oxford, which researches issues such as social mobility and racial discrimination in the labour market. He brings a wealth of experience from 30 years working in both private and public sectors including 16 years as a partner in PwC where he had board level responsibility for diversity for a time and was recognised with awards for his work promoting ethnic diversity in the workplace.

Paul Cleal

Victoria Holbrook

Victoria joined Advance HE in February 2019 from the Office for Students and previously HEFCE. As Head of Membership Victoria manages relationships to ensure members are supported fully by Advance HE’s work, enabling them to deliver for their staff and students by understanding their needs.  She also leads work to support good governance, bringing expertise and perspectives from her time at HEFCE and OfS, as well as from serving on the Boards of a Multi-Academy Trust (2014-19) and Plymouth Marjon University (2019-present).

Victoria Holbrook

Conference Themes

This year's conference will focus on 'Professionalising Governance in Higher Education'. It is designed for Chairs, governors, executives of HEIs and members of the professional support teams who work with Governors. In addition to hearing from a range of high profile speakers, the conference also offers a forum to enable Governors, professional support staff and policymakers to share and discuss key and emerging areas of governance.

This year, our national conference will look beyond the sector, addressing practice, developments and insights and exploring whether and how these can be adopted in HE.

The conference will cover the following themes:

  • Embedding diversity into the governance of UK higher education; exploring solutions, ideas and experiences from within and beyond HE
  • Boardroom behaviour, the challenge of establishing and sustaining a productive and constructive boardroom culture
  • Lessons from other shores; insights and ideas from HE in other nations
  • Change as a constant – including progress on the revised CUC code
  • Taking stock of the Office for Students - 18 months young. Implications and next steps for institutions
  • Promoting and securing the student interest

Governance Conference Programme

Draft Governance Conference Programme

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Supporting Governor and governance professionals development in 2019-20

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