AUA Conference & Exhibition 2023
Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion themed sessions

With the 2023 AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition taking place this week, we thought we’d highlight some sessions taking place around the theme of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

You can access the full programme for the conference here.

Don’t forget, the AUA has an Equality and Diversity themed network! You can read more about the network and it’s leader, Nav Ahmed, Arden University on our website here! AUA members can join the network by going to My AUA.

Working Session 1
Monday, 3 July from 12:00 – 13:00

Mark Hollingsworth, Deputy COO, City University of London | David Duell, Business Manager, Academic Registrar’s Office, University of Birmingham

This interactive session will outline the many benefits of a diverse workplace. We will challenge delegates to consider the barriers to inclusivity in most standard recruitment processes, and share practice and techniques to make hiring processes more accessible and inclusive, as well as generally improving the candidate experience.

The session will feature four stages: Advertising, Selection, Assessment, and Feedback.

This session is informed by lived experience and practice in staff recruitment from administrator to assistant director level at two UK HEIs, and will offer a platform for delegates to share their own experience and ideas, as well as to learn from success stories and real, practical tips which can be implemented and developed, with a view to improving the recruitment journey across the sector and making it a more authentic and inclusive experience for all concerned.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:

1. Identify and articulate what inclusive recruitment practice can look like, and understand its benefits for all candidates.

2. Take away a handout of practical tips and techniques which can be deployed to make recruitment processes more inclusive and to improve the candidate experience.

3. Reflect on their own recruitment experiences and institutional context, and make suggestions for change based on the ideas discussed in the session.

David Law, Academic Director: Global Partnerships, Keele University

China is one of the UK’s largest trading partners but data on trade generally excludes higher education. In interactive ways we will explore the experiences that delegates have had in Chinese student recruitment, partnership construction, and learner support.

China is very large, very ambitious, and ruled by the CCP which often shapes how we see Chinese HE. This session will build delegate knowledge on historical inheritance from previous centuries, plans to make Chinese HE a global “powerhouse” and policies for integration with other systems.

Chinese students constitute one-quarter of the UK’s international student population and knowing more about Chinese universities will assist colleagues who engage professionally, in whatever way, with China.

Following the session, delegates will be encouraged to reflect on their views.

By the end of the session, delegates will be:
1. Better prepared to be active speakers in debates about building partnerships in China.
2. Informed about the size and shape of Chinese higher education, including
tuition fees, student accommodation, academic workload, and assessment
3. Able to understand the ambitions of university partners in China

Tuesday Keynote
Tuesday, 4 July 2023 from 10:00 – 10:45

The session will be a personal account about the challenges and barriers I have faced in Higher Education to progress my professional career. It will be based on real life experiences having been brought up in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the UK and being born in Nairobi, Kenya. I was the only sibling from seven who had the opportunity to go to university. The presentation will also explore some practical hints and tips to break down barriers and smash through glass ceilings.

Professor Dilshad Sheikh, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) / Dean of the Faculty of Business, Arden University

I have over 20 years of experience in the Higher Education sector gained from multiple roles – these have ranged from teaching in the classroom right through to senior management positions.

I currently hold a dual strategic leadership position as Dean of the Faculty of Business at Arden University and I’m very proud to have been appointed as Arden’s first ever Dean, giving me the exciting opportunity to build a Faculty from scratch. I am also the Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic) at Arden University.

Born in Nairobi, Kenya, and the youngest of seven children, I have enjoyed a successful career in industry prior to making the jump into academia. Realising this was where I could enact genuine change, I moved across as a result of my desire to help students from widening participation backgrounds achieve their goals and support their communities. I was featured in the publication “We are the City” named as an inspirational woman, have made an appearance on BBC Radio 4 discussing digital technology in Higher Education and have also been a finalist for two consecutive years in the grand prix category of the Education Investor Awards shortlisted as Business Woman of the year (2022) and Business Woman to Watch (2021). Similarly, I was named in the Business Women in Education’s inaugural Women to Watch list in 2022.

I was the winner of the most prestigious CMI Volunteer of the Year Award 2022 having been the former regional chair for the West Midlands and Northwest. I am an inspirational speaker and have a keen interest in the equity, diversity and inclusivity of organisations and have delivered several keynote presentations both locally and nationally as well as published several articles advocating the benefits of diverse and inclusive management and leadership teams. I continue to engage with audiences across a variety of sectors with the ambition to encourage and inspire more females, especially from ethnic minority backgrounds, attaining senior leadership roles.

Working Session 2
Monday, 3 July 2023 from 15:45 – 16:45

How can I support my organisation to be more equal, diverse and inclusive? – Nav Ahmed, Principal Lecturer (Quality and Enhancement), Arden University

Within this interactive session, delegates with a particular interest in promoting equality, diversity and inclusion will share ideas and experiences to learn from each other about successful initiatives taking place across the sector.

Delegates will be invited to identify what they consider to be the biggest challenges to EDI within HE professional services, why these issues persist and what further support they feel they need to achieve positive change.
The session will conclude with a reflective plenary activity, with each delegate making a personal “pledge” committing to specific actions they will take following the session and how they will share these within their wider teams.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:

1. Identify current and future challenges relating to equality, diversity and inclusion in HE professional services

2. Explore possible strategies to improve equality, diversity and inclusion at both an individual and organisational level

3. Evaluate the impact of successful strategies which have been implemented within their organisations and recommend future improvements

Total wellness for the HE Professional. An approach using workplace dancing – Boyejo Olajumoke, Deputy Registrar, Legal & Head, Lagos State University

This session will look at some of the challenges facing the higher education personnel in two Universities in Africa.

Why workplace dancing? Dancing therapy has been proven to aid wellness in several ways including; stress relief, improving physical health, emotional therapy, boosting memory and eliminating social anxiety.

The introduction of workplace dancing reinvents new initiatives in higher education to further aid the wellbeing of the Higher Education Professional. 

By the end of the session, delegates will be:

1. Mentally reinvigorated   and will leave the session with a sense of
community found in dancing

2. Able to appreciate dance as a powerful form of human expression and communication

3. Able to embrace new initiatives for staff wellbeing and increased productivity in their various institutions

Chiara Singh, Institute Development Associate, University of Bristol | Samima Hussain, Research Innovation Office Manager, De Montfort University

This wild card workshop takes an innovative approach inspired by the Café Scientifique movement that began in the UK in the 1990s and Deliberative Citizens’ Debates developed in 2004.

The session will revolve around three key themes demonstrated by three respective activities based on three different tables, led by an expert facilitator for each theme, with delegates participating in group work across each theme.

The session will conclude with an interactive digital poll and delegates will be provided with detailed but brief evaluation forms to complete as part of the self-reflective process to conclude the workshop.

By the end of this session, delegates will be able to:

1. Transform attitudes as a consequence of exchanging a variety of HE professionals’ perspectives and knowledge regarding key themes such as equity, diversity and inclusion, using informal, multi-directional, experiential learning. By participating in each of the core activities, participants will be encouraged to challenge pre-conceived and notions in a safe safe and thus, transform their thinking about a particular issue or experience.

2. Expand their professional networks having shared unique interactive experiences with HE professionals at different career stages, from different organisations, and cultures, learning about each other and opening the doors to foster future inter-organisational collaboration and cooperation

3. Identify and articulate their own personal approaches to self-directed learning including any areas for improvement and how this interacts with group learning

Working Session 3
Tuesday, 4 July 2023 from 11:05 – 12:05

Menopause at Work – Maureen Montague, Executive Officer, University of Greenwich Business School | Ratnesvary Alahakone, Senior Lecturer Human Resources & Organisational Behaviour, University of Greenwich Business School | Anna Radley, Organisation Development & Engagement Manager, University of Greenwich Business School

This presentation is suitable for all – Menopause can affect all women. Culturally and traditionally, it’s been a taboo subject. It also affects men as colleagues, managers, family and friends.

In this session, delegates will hear about how Menopause awareness is raised at Greenwich through regular awareness training for staff and line managers, with these initiatives of best practise being embedded to support menopausal women. Delegates will hear how the University of Greenwich are working on a research study to see what impact they are making across the sector.

By the end of the session:

1. Women will feel empowered to feel confident to start talking about it

2. Men will be more aware of the Peri-Menopause, Menopause and what is happening to their staff, colleagues, family, friends

3. Delegates will get Menopause awareness and break down the taboo through workplace conversations

Ethical compliance and consideration in the HE sector provided by Worktribe – Jon Hackney, Business Development Officer, Worktribe

This session is provided by Worktribe which is the leading intuitive cloud-based platform offering a powerful suite of tools for seamless, end-to-end research management. Worktribe’s out of the box solutions is the ultimate platform for managing the research lifecycle with over 248,000 academic and administrator users across more than 50 higher education institutions.

In this session, delegates will have the opportunity to explore and share the ethical compliance and due diligence areas of consideration in the HE sector. With increasing complexity in the local, national and international environments, these demands touch all areas of the institution.

So, how far do we understand these demands? What are the blockers that we find in our areas, and what can we do to overcome them? How can we make sure we are delivering, whilst at the same time controlling bureaucracy and workload? How important is communication, training and sharing across the institution? What impact does University Leadership and culture have on this work? How can relationship building be used to enable us and our teams to do more than tick boxes?

Come along to this session to identify key themes relevant to your role and combat these questions.

By the end of the session, delegates will:

1. Understand the key elements of ethical compliance and consideration that should be considered in the University setting

2. Have considered the needs in delegates own roles and departments, and how far these are successfully monitored, documented and risk assessed

3. Leave the session with 2 early step actions to take back to share with colleagues in order to improve understanding, communication and/or processes

Vikki Goddard, Consultant, Vikki Goddard Consulting Ltd

The session will consider the current position in the HE sector in relation to diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion has become more of a focus for HEIs over recent years, yet still remains a very challenging issue for many. The session will explore why this might be, using examples of strategies and experiences of presenter and attendee.

The session will also explore how we might make Diversity and Inclusion more embedded and holistic, whilst recognising the differentials and intersectionality. It will also consider what Professional Services should be doing to embed diversity and inclusion in our own practices and work environments.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:

1. Undertake different approaches to delivering diversity and inclusion

2. Take back their learning to their own work environment and make a positive change in their own organisation

3. Feel more confident that they can engage with diversity and inclusion initiatives