Improving the Student Experience in Higher Education 2018

further & higher education

08:45 - 16:30

Thursday 1 February 2018

Hallam Conference Centre, Central London

This Forum provides attendees with an invaluable opportunity to hear from leading organisations and best practice case studies from across the sector on how best to improve and maintain an excellent student experience in an increasingly competitive higher education sector. This Forum will enable detailed discussion of the value of undergraduate, postgraduate and international student experience for institutions and students alike whilst evaluating the role of technology, data and surveys in placing a positive student experience at the forefront of delivering the best possible higher education.


This Forum is specifically designed for the Higher Education sector including Directors of Student Experience, Heads of Quality Assurance, Heads of Quality Standards, Directors of Student Services, Associate and Deputy Deans, Student Engagement Managers, Student Experience Coordinators and Managers, Heads of Student Support, Heads of Recruitment and Quality Managers. This forum is also open to the Private Sector to encourage debate.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Geoff Stoakes, Head of Projects, Higher Education Academy (HEA)
  • Maureen McLaughlin, Head of Engagement, Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) 
  • Jo Nuckley, Head of Adjudication Team, Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA)
  • Ellie Russell, Manager, The Student Engagement Partnership, National Union for Students (NUS)
*Click here to see the other speakers and detailed programme*


Policy Background

HE students across the UK report that their student experience is dropping. This follows a 5% and 7% decrease in the last year of student applications from domestic and EU students respectively.

Whilst teaching standards remain high, the challenge to prove that a student experience is ‘value for money’ remains outstanding. This comes at a time when, according to HEPI’s 2017 Student Academic Experience Survey, 75% of students feel that Teaching Excellence Framework-linked fee rises should not apply to anyone.

The government’s April 2017 Higher Education and Research Act, the first major regulatory reform to the UK higher education sector in 25 years, concerns the formation of the Office of Students which, by statute, is required to ‘promote quality, and greater choice and opportunities for students’ and to promote value for money’. This supports recommendations from HEFCE and QAA that emphasise the value of teaching quality, community engagement, responsiveness to feedback and graduate employability. However, what remains of particular concern is that student wellbeing continues to compare negatively with the national population. As pressure increases on students to make the most of their student experience and when placed alongside rising financial pressures and workload this area of student service has become ever more crucial. Meeting student expectations requires universities to be responsive to the evolving needs and aspirations of a whole array of prospective students.

If UK universities are to build on their domestic and international reputation and to reverse recent negative trends regarding applications and student experience it is vital that they take heed of student concerns, incorporate student feedback and think innovatively about delivering the best possible student experience.

View the Agenda


Registration, Refreshments & Networking


Chair’s Welcome Address

Dan Derricott, Assistant Registrar, University of Warwick (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Using UK Engagement Survey to Inform Student Experience Initiatives

  • Using the UK Engagement Survey findings to engage staff on how to shape student experience initiatives
  • Understanding how insight from surveys and metrics can inform practice and help measure teaching quality and how excellence can be measured
  • Exploring how institutions have written about student engagement and UKES in the TEF Year 2 submissions
  • Taking a holistic approach: Ensuring an all staff ‘buy-in’ for student experience initiatives to offer consistency of purpose

Geoff Stoakes, Head of Projects, Higher Education Academy (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Outlining the Role of Quality Assurance in Providing Student Experience

  • Explaining how the QAA addresses student experience and involves students as part of the university review process: Lessons from the past and opportunities for the future
  • Sharing the findings of the QAA Higher Education Reviews (HERs): Taking a more data-driven approach to strategic decision making which focuses on student outcomes and experiences
  • Supporting changes in curriculum and assessment approaches, to strategic decision making on estates and improving key performance indicators
  • Locating student experience within the evolving HE sector landscape

Maureen McLaughlin, Head of Engagement, Quality Assurance Agency (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Discussion Session: Assessing the Impact of the TEF on Student Experience

  • Exploring the impact of the TEF on student experience amongst delegates and panel speakers through instant polling
  • Sharing potential challenges and solutions regarding the relationship between the TEF and student experience through peer learning
  • Addressing outstanding concerns relating to the TEF and student experience through questions and answers

Geoff Stoakes, Head of Projects, Higher Education Academy (CONFIRMED)
Maureen McLaughlin, Head of Engagement, Quality Assurance Agency (CONFIRMED)


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Succeeding with International Students - The UK's Competitive Advantage 2017 Report

  • Exploring the findings from The UK’s Competitive Advantage 2017 report
  • Recognising the value of international students and their contribution to the student experience: Understanding the case for improving international student experience
  • Learning the lessons as to why international students are more likely to recommend the UK than any other leading English-language study destination: How can these findings be applied to domestic students
  • Understanding the different factors that affect the way international and national students assess university student experience: Evaluating reputation,  research quality and social media
  • Sharing best practice from HE institutions with highly rated international student experience

Miranda Thomas, Head of External Relations, Universities UK International (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Providing an Award-Winning Student Experience

  • Harper Adams’ experience of delivering a Times Higher Education award-winning student experience
  • Ensuring that high quality provision of teaching, campus facilities and strong community atmosphere draws university estate resources
  • Highlighting the value for industry links and employability in appealing to students with regard to future job prospects: Providing a purpose to student activity that goes beyond the campus
  • Working alongside the student union to provide an active social programme enabling students to better engage with one another

Andy Jones, Director of Learning, Teaching and International, Harper Adams University (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Working in Partnership To Secure an Inclusive Student Experience

  • Working in partnership to establish Inclusive Newcastle to ensure that sport is accessible to all
  • Offering a range of para-sports to students, as well as travel bursaries and a sports mentor pairing scheme
  • Deploying Newcastle University Students’ Union (NUSU) bursaries to help 527 disadvantaged students to gain access to university sporting activities
  • Launching the Earn Your Stripes programme encouraging clubs to increase their inclusivity: Offering financial rewards dependent on how many accessibility criteria a club meets

Professor Suzanne Cholerton, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), and Ronnie Reid, Students’ Union President, Newcastle University (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: The Student's Perspective - What Constitutes Success?

  • Outlining what makes for a positive student experience including student atmosphere, social life, well-structured courses, helpful and interested staff and good extracurricular activities
  • Stressing the value of the student voice when attempting to increase the quality of student experiences: Helping to shape course design and campus life
  • Reflecting on the results of the National Student Survey: What are student priorities?
  • Discussing the importance of student unions and guilds in achieving positive student experiences: Sharing examples of best practice

Ellie Russell, Manager, The Student Engagement Partnership, National Union for Students (NUS) (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Understanding How institutions Can Measure Student Digital Experience - Placing Experience at the Heart of University Provision

  • Producing a digital student experience benchmarking tool in collaboration with the National Union of Students (NUS) and The Student Engagement Partnership (TSEP) as part of the Jisc Digital Student Project
  • Explaining how digital technologies are an increasingly important part of learning and living as a student
  • Creating the Change agents’ network has informed the aims for outstanding practice, which involve students and staff working together for digital change
  • Understanding how institutions can measure student experience to inform future decision-making and place experience at the heart of university provision

Sarah Knight, Head of Change: Student Experience, Jisc (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Implementing a Cohesive Framework to Address the Challenges of Delivering a Positive Student Experience

  • Recognising the importance of the link between complaints resolution and student experience
  • Ensuring an easy access and responsive complaints resolution system to enhance and retain a positive student experience
  • Reflecting upon recurrent complaint trends with a view to channeling resources to address long-standing student concerns
  • Sharing best practice for dealing with student complaints

Jo Nuckley, Head of Adjudication Team, Office for the Independent Adjudicator (OIA) (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Delivering Outstanding Student Experience Support

  • Being recognised in the 2017 Guardian Student Experience Awards for the Nottingham Law School ‘How to’ student engagement initiative
  • Tackling the gender gap in law school student uptake by providing a variety of resources online through the university’s virtual learning environment
  • Enabling students to take personalised journeys through the resources provided – picking and choosing the materials most appropriate for their needs
  • Demonstrating the success of the programme after only one year with 7.4% more male students progressing to second year than in the previous academic year

Professor Janine-Griffiths Baker, Dean, and Matthew Homewood, Head of Department, Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University (CONFIRMED)



Closing Keynote: Placing Strong Student Services At The Heart of a Positive Student Experience

  • Exploring the relationship between student services and student experience
  • Addressing pressing issues for university students including that of mental health, employability, wellbeing and staff development with a view to improving student experience
  • Sharing research findings, good practice and practical tools that align to AMOSSHE’s strategic themes and inform student experiences
  • Understanding evolving student expectations and the implications for student experience, student welfare, support and mentoring services

Jayne Aldridge, Vice Chair Operations, AMOSSHE (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair’s Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

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