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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021

Teaching and Learning Conference 2021: Teaching in the Spotlight: What is the Future for HE Curricula?

Our flagship three-day event attracting HE practitioners from the UK and overseas.

Advance HE’s Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 continued to position the spotlight firmly on teaching in a global context. The conference explored where we go from here in terms of teaching and learning in HE, and how will we can deliver the curricula of the future. 

Teaching in higher education has never been under such scrutiny as during 2020 and this continues into the 2021-22 academic year. Ongoing debates around teaching excellence, fees, value, the student experience, inclusion, equality impact and more have been further scrutinised and added to by the global pandemic. 

Date: 6-8 July 2021
Venue: Virtual
Who: All higher education professionals

Some of the consequences have been:

  • A rapid move to fully virtual teaching in March 2020, meaning as a result everyone having a view on the ‘new’ student experience
  • the value now for students compared to the ‘traditional’ HE model
  • the impact on physical elements of courses such as field work or laboratory sessions 
  • the rapid change in assessment methods and engagement strategies
  • how the curriculum supports equality, inclusion and diversity in a virtual world.

So what is the future for HE curricula? Has the urgency for digital learning caused a seismic shift in HE delivery that will change the future of the sector? Have inequalities in higher education been narrowed or have new ones emerged? Do we have a workforce with the skills required to deliver this new model of HE? Do the curricula we have deliver the skills and knowledge graduates need for the post-pandemic world? And where do we go from here as we move through the 2020-21 academic year and into 2021-22 and beyond? 

The focus on enhancing all aspects of teaching and learning remains a critical issue for those seeking to provide an outstanding student experience at all levels of taught provision. Curricula are at the heart of excellent teaching and all aspects of this have changed as never before during 2020.

Join the conversation at #TLConf21

‘Let’s face it - there have not been many upsides to the pandemic. But the resilience and innovation that you have shown has not only been impressive, but has also led to changes in the delivery and accessibility of higher education forever.’

Michelle Donelan MP, Minister of State for Universities, 10 September 2020

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Conference aims

The Teaching and Learning Conference 2021: Teaching in the Spotlight: What is the Future for HE Curricula? aimed to:

  • Create space for delegates to engage in creative thinking around teaching and learning towards continuous curriculum enhancement and innovation
  • Increase knowledge and confidence of delegates to continue to develop and improve their teaching practice and have a positive impact on the success of their students
  • Engage with leaders and influencers from across the HE sector who share the passion for teaching and learning for student success in HE
  • Examine how curriculum design can positively advance inclusion and equality.
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Conference themes

The overarching theme across all three days of the conference was Teaching in the Spotlight: What is the Future for the HE Curricula? and it addressed the following questions:

The future for HE curricula

Are current curricula still fit for purpose? What evaluation and impact work has been undertaken since the switch to digital T&L? How has this evolved into the blended, flexed, hybrid model of T&L? What have we learnt and how do we need to react to ensure curricula remain relevant and impactful?

Day 1 themes

The future for embedding race equality in curricula

How are you making your teaching/curriculum anti-racist? How are you embedding learning in your discipline that helps students interrogate biases and privilege? How are you centring diverse voices/experiences in your curriculum?

The future for supporting retention strategies through curricula

How do we aid student transition and retention in a digital age? How are you identifying new issues in transition with distanced students? How have retention practices had to change?

Day 2 themes

The future for student engagement in curricula

How are you ensuring students are still critical partners in teaching and learning? How do you engage with students on T&L work outside of Student Union reps and formal committees? How are students engaged in co-design and co-delivery in an era of digital, distanced and blended approaches?

The future practitioner

Are you a flexible practitioner? How are you helping students navigate engagement across different platforms? How are you ensuring inclusivity and equality in digital, distanced, blended and flexed approaches? How are we shaping the HE workforce of the future?

Day 3 themes

The future for inclusive assessment and feedback approaches

What are the implications for the future of assessment and feedback of hybrid or digital teaching?

The future for enterprise and employability in the curricula

In a pandemic era and beyond, enhancing enterprise and employability within curriculum development is essential to enabling student success. How are you addressing this on your modules, programmes, across schools and faculties?
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Conference programme

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 - Day 1 programme

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 - Day 2 programme

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 - Day 3 programme

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Conference abstracts

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 - On-demand session abstracts

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 - Live session abstracts

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A fully digital conferencing experience

The Teaching and Learning Conference 2021 was delivered on our virtual conference platform. This provided delegates with a flexible, immersive and engaging digital experience where they could develop their practice, share their ideas and grow their network.

All delegates (ticket-type dependent) had access to the following features:

  • three full days of live-streamed sessions of speakers, panel discussions and workshops
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments during all sessions
  • full online support throughout the day
  • flexibility to attend sessions at leisure with access to all session recordings after the conference allowing you to browse and catch up on anything you may have missed at a time suited to you
  • resources area for relevant and contemporary resources 
  • opportunity to interact with other delegates from around the world in a virtual networking space.

Find out more about our digital conferences below

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Virtual networking Topia world

This year we enhanced the networking during the Teaching and Learning Conference by running a Topia world alongside the virtual conference platform. This replicated the informal side of a face-to-face conference; the chance conversations over a coffee or sandwich, the opportunity to ask questions of your workshop presenter or a good catch up with ex-colleagues, old friends and other people passionate about T&L in HE.

In Topia you can meet up with people by walking your avatar around the world and literally bumping into people. As you move closer to a group, you hear their conversation fading in and their cameras appearing just as you would when you wander around the refreshment or exhibition area of a face-to-face conference. We hope this will allow greater connectivity between delegates in an informal and fun way.

Our Topia world was designed as a walk through the woods with clearings allowing you to meet other delegates, catch up with our conference sponsors and exhibitors, visit the area focussing on our on-demand presenters and question them about their oral presentations or take some time out and find a leafy corner to catch up with colleagues and friends you haven’t seen since the pandemic hit in 2020. The world was open for the duration of the conference 24 hours a day.

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Welcome speakers

Alison Johns

Alison was appointed chief executive of Advance HE in autumn 2017. Prior to that she was the chief executive of the Leadership Foundation and has worked in higher education for 25 years. Before becoming chief executive, she was head of policy for leadership, governance and management at the Hefce (now the Office for Students), where she established both the Leadership Foundation and the Equality Challenge Unit. 

Find out more about Alison


Alison Johns

Helen O’Sullivan

Helen O’Sullivan is Provost and Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Chester. Before joining the University of Chester, Helen was Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education) at Keele University and Associate Pro Vice-Chancellor for Online Learning at University of Liverpool.

Her research focuses on the role of emotional intelligence in developing professionalism and leadership in doctors. Her current external activities include membership of UUK International’s TNE Advisory Group and of the Jisc Horizon Group.

Find out more about Helen


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Keynote speakers

Keynote speaker: Day 1

Professor Janice Kay CBE

Professor Janice Kay is the Provost and Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Exeter.

She is a Professor of cognitive neuropsychology, first appointed to Exeter through a Wellcome Trust University Lectureship. Her research, which has received funding from the Economic and Social Research Council, Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council, is concerned with theoretical modelling, assessment and rehabilitation of disorders of perception, speech, language and memory.

Find out more about Janice

Janice Kay

Keynote speaker: Day 2

Salma Hussain

Salma Hussain, President King’s College London Students’ Union, will be delivering the keynote on day 2 of the Teaching and Learning Conference 2021: Teaching in the Spotlight: What is the Future for HE Curricula?

Salma Hussain

Keynote speaker: Day 3

Professor Charles Egbu

Professor Egbu joined Leeds Trinity University as Vice-Chancellor on 1 November 2020.   He leads the University on all strategic matters; ensuring financial sustainability to allow the delivery of the University's Strategic Plan, including the overall vision and values of the University.  He represents the University externally at various groups including Universities UK (UUK), Million Plus and the Cathedral's Group.   He works closely with industry and professional bodies, especially in the Built Environment sector, and with local communities.

Find out more about Charles

Charles Egbu
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Panel speakers

Day 1: Why should we embed Race Equality in all curricula? Decolonising the curriculum

Melanie Smith - Panel Chair

Melanie joined Advance HE in December 2020 to lead the anti-racist curriculum project. With a background in widening participation, she has thirteen years' experience in leading transformative widening access and student support programmes led by a personal and professional conviction in social inclusion and the life-changing nature of educational opportunity. Having worked in both the College and University sector, Melanie brings extensive experience of the Scottish tertiary sector, stakeholder engagement, partnership working and co-creation.

Find out more about Melanie

Melanie Smith

Dr Kathy-Ann Fletcher

Kathy-Ann is a lecturer in Marketing at Abertay University, teaching in areas such as Digital Marketing and Customer Relationship Management. She is co-lead of the Lead Voices for Race and Religion at Abertay which addresses matters as it applies across curriculum and professional practice and a member of that institution’s Race Equality Charter Mark Committee. Kathy-Ann’s focus lies in expanding access to an equitable and anti-racist HE environment for people of BAME backgrounds.

Dr Kathy-Ann Fletcher

Dr Anil Awesti

Anil is a Senior Teaching Fellow in the Centre for Lifelong Learning at the University of Warwick. His teaching and research interests are in the relationship between Higher Education and social justice, in particular issues of access, participation, and progression of students from ‘non-traditional’ backgrounds in universities. Anil co-chairs Warwick's Race Equality Taskforce and Widening Participation Student Success & Progression Working Group.  He also co-leads Warwick's anti-racism staff development programme which takes an approach to staff training rooted in anti-racist pedagogy.

Anil Awesti

Aishwarya Tiku

Aishwarya is Vice-President Education, University of the West of Scotland Student Union,and a Doctor of Business Administration student with research in the field of Knowledge Management practices in Higher Education. Aishwarya is the first female, BAME, international and London campus student elected as Vice-President Education in the University of the West of Scotland’s Student Union. Find out more about Aishwarya

Aishwarya Tiku

Day 2: What next for the evolution of HE curricula? The future for hybrid models of HE

Dr Catherine Hack - Panel Chair

Dr Kay Hack is the Principal Adviser (Learning and Teaching) for Advance-HE. Her role includes developing, managing and promoting excellence in teaching and learning, both generally and within STEM disciplines. She delivers a range of services to the HE sector, including supporting strategic leadership and change in HEIs and building and maintaining strong relationships with the STEM community, PSRBs, government and other organisations and individuals.


Kay Hack

Janet De Wilde

Janet is experience in Academic Practice Development having worked in the Higher Education sector for over 33 years, following 5 years in industry.  She has a background in STEM, having undertaken both research and teaching in Bioengineering for 17 years. In 2020, Janet joined Queen Mary University London to lead the newly launched Queen Mary Academy. The Academy team aims to support the development of excellence in Education and Learning, Teaching Recognition, and Researcher Development. Janet leads on strategic projects to develop the provision across Queen Mary. She is also currently leading an Advance HE project on Developing Flexible Ecosystems examining approaches to flexible learning opportunities across the UK sector.


Janet De Wilde

Professor Carl Gombrich

Professor Carl Gombrich is the Academic Lead and founder member of a new university at the London Interdisciplinary School.

He was formerly professorial teaching fellow in interdisciplinary education at University College London (UCL), where he led the design and implementation of the UK’s first Bachelor in Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree.

Carl is a regular keynote speaker in his areas of professional interest which include interdisciplinary undergraduate education, the philosophy of expertise and the future of work.

He was a member of the British Academy Working group on interdisciplinarity, a core panel member of the NVAO (Accreditation Organisation of Netherland and Flanders) and is an external examiner and scrutineer to several institutions in the space of interdisciplinary and liberal education. He has degrees in maths, physics and philosophy, was previously a professional opera singer, and has a wide range of interests in arts and science disciplines.


Carl Gombrich

Tim Hinchcliffe

Tim is an experienced higher education teacher and leader, who is responsible for the design and delivery of both teaching excellence programmes and bespoke consultancy, in domestic and international markets.

Before joining Advance HE, Tim spent almost a decade in leadership roles at Keele University during a period of sustained national top 5 placings for overall satisfaction in the National Student Survey (NSS). Versatile roles included Head of Curriculum Development, Head of Student Leaning, and Senior Fellow of Sustainability.

Find out more about Tim


Tim Hinchcliffe

Lauren Edwards

Lauren Edwards, Marjon Student Union President, will also be joining this panel session.

Lauren Edwards

Day 3: We can agree that sustainable and innovative approaches are needed to enhance employability and enterprise in the curriculum – what are the challenges and what are the solutions?

Stuart Norton - Panel Chair

Stuart is a Senior Adviser (learning and teaching) at Advance HE.  Stuart joined the legacy agency, the Higher Education Academy, in April 2016 as the Academic Lead for Employability. Prior to this Stuart has worked in academia since 2003, writing and developing a series of criminology and policing programmes, including a direct entry pre-join route into Thames Valley Police.

Stuart’s role is diverse and transitions across the core thematic areas of student success, where he takes a keen role in supporting sector-wide learning and teaching policy.

Find out more about Stuart

Stuart Norton

Iwi Ugiagbe-Green

Iwi is an Associate Professor (Accounting & Finance division), at Leeds University Business School. She has worked in higher education for over 20 years in range of professional services and academic roles.  Her current research focuses on intersectionality issues relating to gender/race on the racialised experiences of students in the academy, with particular focus on student transition from higher education to the graduate labour market and closing degree awarding gaps.

Iwi Ugiagbe-Green

Professor Emeritus Andy Penaluna

Professor Emeritus Andy Penaluna is the former Director of the International Institute for Creative Entrepreneurial Development (IICED), where two of EU’s ten depth case studies that directly informed the development of the EU Joint Research Centre’s 2016 EntreComp Framework originated.

In the UK he chairs the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education’s work on enterprise and entrepreneurship, and is also an academic advisor to Advance HE, the UK’s national body for educator development and support. He has received many accolades from both education and business.

Find out more about Andy

Andy Penaluna

Aranee Manoharan

Aranee is a committed advocate for equity, inclusion, and social mobility. She specialises in integrating employability through high impact pedagogical approaches and assessment methods to design more inclusive curricula that prepare all students with the knowledge, skills, and significant experiences to achieve their aspirations. A Senior Fellow of the HEA, Aranee has been appointed to a range of EDI advisory boards in the sector, including AGCAS and ISE. She is the forthcoming Head of Careers and Employability at Kings College London, starting in August 2021.

Aranee Manoharan
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Event sponsors

EvaSys - sponsor logo

EvaSys has been a market-leading supplier of survey and exam solutions for over 20 years, with 1000+ customers worldwide, two-thirds of whom are education institutions, and 60+ Universities within the UK and Ireland.

EvaSys delivers: high survey response rates; extensive academic and student engagement; evaluation consistency; instant reporting to inform decisions; and powerful, flexible reporting for all stakeholders.

EvaExam assessments provide: secure, online, proctored exams; summative assessments and formative tests; immediate reporting with question analysis and mark distribution; reductions in marking time from days to hours; and accelerated results for students.

The UK office offers dedicated account, implementation, training and customer support to clients across the UK and Ireland, supported by development, technical and training teams in Germany.

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Digital Ed

DigitalEd is a cloud-based software company with a simple and resonant purpose to shape the world through digital learning. At DigitalEd we’ve used our beliefs, values and core pillars of software development to build the Möbius platform, the most innovative and comprehensive learning platform for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

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The Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE) is a worldwide organisation with members in 90 countries on five continents.

AMEE promotes international excellence in education in the health professions across the continuum of undergraduate, postgraduate, and continuing education.

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Teaching and Learning Conference 2020 highlights

To view the highlights of last year's Teaching and Learning Conference, please visit our web page here.