2023 AUA Conference and Exhibition
Student Experience and Engagement related sessions

It’s once again almost time for the annual AUA conference! Given that there are once again so many great sessions scheduled for this year’s AUA Annual Conference, you might not know where to start.

To help our members of the Student Experience and Engagement network, we’ve compiled below the sessions that you might find most interesting. We hope that you enjoy the conference and travel back to your own institution with a wealth of new ideas to put into practice.

You can access the full programme for the conference here.

You can find more details about the conference, including how to book your place here.

If a session is fully booked, keep checking back closer to the date of the conference as places may become available!

Spotlight: Professionals Working in the Third Space
Monday, 3 July 2023 from 14:00 – 15:00

This will be a great session for anyone who is conducting some form of research or scholarly practice alongside their professional role. Many who work in the student experience and engagement realm tend to also look at publishing research, so this session may be for you!

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

Bo Kelestyn, Associate Professor and Student Engagement Lead, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick | Jessica Humphries, Deputy Director of the Warwick International Higher Education Academy, University of Warwick | Jean Mutton, Service Designer, Associate: Kings College London

Design thinking and service design are closely aligned inter-disciplinary methodologies and ways of thinking where services and the learning and teaching experience is designed, or re-designed, around the experience of the end-user. A humancentric approach has been gaining ground in the higher education (HE) sector over the last few years as an innovative and effective means of enhancing the student experience through a holistic review of the student journey. Design practices, mindset and tools offer new possibilities for capturing feedback and solving innovation challenges in higher education. Engaging students as partners and co-creators of their experience lies at the very heart of the design ethos.

In this session, you will hear from three practitioners in the field on how they have applied design thinking and service design to inform approaches for student engagement and enhance the student journey. You will be guided through the fundamentals of the methodology with opportunity to reflect on how it can be used for student engagement and co-creation in your work and institution.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Delegates will have an understanding of what design thinking entails
2. Delegates will know how to employ a range of tools to support their approaches to innovative change
3. Delegates will have the know how to start using design thinking within their community

Alison Whaley, Director of Student Experience, Cranfield University

This workshop will open with a focus on the concept of co-creation using a student engagement plan to outline how co-creation can be applied.

After establishing a shared understanding, the focus will be on the role of the HE Professional. To co-create takes time, understanding of stakeholders and the ability to facilitate and engage which are all qualities/skills that HE Professionals can harness and help in taking forward these initiatives.

Outputs from the session will then lead to group work where an example initiative will be established and groups will talk through how this could benefit from co-creation. This discussion will be followed by an opportunity to share and discuss thoughts with other groups.

The session will close with a commitment to each other to consider co-creation in our day-to-day work and look for ways for this empower us in our roles and what we can offer.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Talk about co-creation and why it is different to approaches such as ‘collaboration’
2. Identify the benefits of co-creation and how to know how this might apply to certain initiatives better than others
3. Reflect on their own role and the approaches they take, and how co-creation could foster new opportunities for them – to raise their own profile, have a different conversation or start to lead on a new area

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

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

Natalia Crisanti, Student Engagement and Communications Officer, University of Kent

This is a participatory workshop which will help delegates understand how to put compassion and clarity at the heart of all messaging, and work together to find accessible and inclusive ways to deliver information.
The session will explore what compassion means, and how can we use it in our institutions to attract and retain students, and improve our working relationships using the University of Kent’s Compassionate

Communications project. This project unearths communications that need improvement from exams, to intermittence and withdrawal, from finance to accommodation, to staff meetings and emails – where we started, what we’ve achieved and how we’ve gone about it using practical examples with consideration for compassionate communications.

By the end of this session, delegates will:
1. Be able to use practical guidance to construct messaging that is clear and empathic, and builds trust – even when the message you’re delivering isn’t positive
2. Know more about making communications accessible to a wide audience
3. Feel more confident about using digital media without creating barriers

Transforming wellbeing in the professional services: Bio, psycho, social, or all of the above? – Chris Buckland, Senior Academic Policy Manager, University of Glasgow

Although it is a model more well associated with chronic pain, colleagues may be wise to understand a variety of wellbeing factors, including the psychological, biological, and sociological, and their complex interactions if they wish to begin transforming wellbeing in the professional services.

Once we have understood these motivating factors, we can better begin to delve into our professional services colleagues’ motivations in the workplace and how this can be aligned to develop our interactions around areas such as career development and internal mobility, as well as broader issues relating to our need for definition and clarity of roles and functions.

By the end of this session, delegates will be able to:
1. Identify different biological, psychological, and social factors and their complex interactions in understanding wellbeing in the workplace
2. Consider the impact of these different motivating factors on areas such as the need for definition and clarity of roles and function
3. Identify the importance of line managers working together with their teams to identify how to factor these factors into both their
career development, as well as their wellbeing

Any Other Business? How university committees support peer learning and critical reflection in ’deliberate professionals’ – Ruth Tennant-Alderman, Head of Quality Assurance, The University of Law

This session will explore collaborative, peer learning and how academic governance work supports the underpinning socio-cultural theories of collaborative and peer learning. It will also explore the specific role within committee work, and how these positions within academic governance structures support and promote critical and creative reflection of professional practice, change, transformation and contextualisation of social factors into professional practice and policy, and understanding of subject matter experts’ work through lived experience

By the end of this session, delegates will be able to:
1. Identify opportunities for peer learning within academic governance structures at their own institutions
2. Reflect on the structures in place to support academic governance work, the skills needed to support this work and the opportunities for wider subject matter work where this may not be immediately available within their current roles
3. Understand the role committee members and committee work has on policy, leadership and change – within roles, providers and the wider sector

Helping more students register to vote provided by Purpose Union  Bess Mayhew, Director, Purpose Union | Lydia Richmond, Senior Associate, Purpose Union

This session is a short presentation on best practice for student voter registration. In this session, delegates will learn how university teams can go about the process of implementing registration opt-ins during student enrolment. The session will cover the necessary steps and outline where further resources and templates are available.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Make the case internally to team leaders to set up opt-in voter registration via the enrolment process.
2. Carry out from start to finish the process of implementing voter registration on enrolment forms, including accessing template data sharing agreements, making changes to the student records system and writing copy for online forms.
3. Access additional material and resources and be confident in sharing them among colleagues.

Sue Attewell, Head of EdTech, JISC

Generative AI such as ChatGPT is prevalent in the news today, often displayed as a disruptor of assessment and teaching, however, the potential is much greater.

This session will cover the opportunities and risks with AI tools as well as exploring how these tools work, and things to be aware of.
Delegates will also gain insight into how students are currently using AI tools and how to be aware of this usage when developing policy and guidance.

Delegates will have a chance to explore JISC demo’s, with plenty of time for questions and discussion.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Understand the potential of AI for education and things to be aware of
2. Explore these tools confidently
3. Find further information and plan their responses to this emerging technology

Dr. Tinus van Zyl, Senior Director: Central Academic Administration, University of Johannesburg (South Africa) | Jeremy Welch, Head of Technology Developments: Student Administration, University of Oxford | Kevin Bassett, Managing Director, Advanced Secure Technologies, Georgina Lee, Director, Advanced Secure Technologies

The University of Oxford and the University of Johannesburg increased the security and controls around the issuing of Degree Documents and the verification of credentials in the last few years. Through their respective projects, they are leading the Digital Transformation of Degree Documents and reducing the risks associated with the misrepresentation of qualifications. This workshop will showcase each institution’s unique experience and showcase the solutions supporting the strategy and facilitating Digital Transformation.

During the session we will run a practical certificate fraud session, where delegates will be challenged to fraudulently attack a sample secure certificate. This will expand knowledge of certificate fraud, allow you to better identify these types of attacks and the techniques to be employed to protect valued documents, such as certificates and transcripts.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Identify the risks and areas of improvement in their own Degree Documentation business process
2. Understand key technology trends associated with the Digital Transformation of Degree Documents and Verification
3. Strategise and implement systems such as a digital certificate portal, blockchain-based certificates, online verification of Degree Documents, and digital badges for graduates and continuing learning

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

The benefit of risk action panels in managing student cases – Matthew Dunstan, Complaints and Conduct Manager, Cardiff Metropolitan University | Bethan Banks, Senior Registry Officer [Complaints and Appeals], Cardiff Metropolitan University | Gwen Jones, Senior Registry Officer [Complaints and Appeals], Cardiff Metropolitan University

Cardiff Metropolitan has received an award from the Regional Safeguarding Board for its ‘Excellent Contribution to Safeguarding’, principally for the Complaints and Conduct Team’s management of student cases, and the development of Risk Action Panels (RAP’s).

The interactive workshop will outline the RAP policy and procedure as a mechanism for considering complaints about student conduct, and its framework for bringing relevant decision makers together to consider risk and actions associated with a student case.

There will be a particular focus on the leadership of the process by members of the Complaints and Conduct Team to ensure fairness and the correct use of university powers, with an additional focus on the importance of staff wellbeing/welfare.

The importance of continuous improvement in University Governing Bodies: A Review Framework – Alyssa White, President, Association of Australian University Secretaries (AAUS) | David Pacey, Chief Governance Officer, University of Sydney

The University of Sydney has embedded a Governance Review Framework for the University’s Senate.

One of the key functions of Senate is to regularly review its own performance in light of its functions and obligations. This Framework captures the elements of individual and whole-body reviews over a ten year forecast to ensure they are conducted in the appropriate sequence.

Those reviews are:
a) External Senate Reviews
b) Senate Meeting Evaluations
c) Annual Senate Fellows Self-Evaluations
d) Annual Compliance Report against the Voluntary Code of Best Practice for the Governance of Australian Universities
e) Internal and External Governance Reviews
The session will provide an insight into how this Framework is delivered in Australia’s oldest and leading University.

By the end of the session, delegates will be:
1. Provided with a case study highlighting issues identified and steps put in place as a consequence of the reviews undertaken
2. Provided tools for other institutions to consider utilising as a means of highlighting areas for focus and improvement
3. Able to share their experiences in undertaking both self and external assessment

David Gilani, Head of Student Engagement and Advocacy, Middlesex University

The aim of this session is to dive into the connections between staff and student belonging in a higher education context. It will provide delegates with up-to-date awareness on these topics from academic research as well as practical strategies for fostering a sense of belonging in their own institution that considers both students and staff.

The session will recap recent research and progress made in understanding student belonging and review the connections between student and staff belonging; summarising academic research and recent findings from an NSS analysis carried out at Middlesex University which will be shared with delegates to utilise at their own institutions.

Delegates will leave with a deeper understanding of the link between staff and student belonging and practical strategies for fostering a community-wide sense of belonging in their own institution.

By the end of the session, delegates will be able to:
1. Understand the current state of research in the field of student belonging in higher education and its recent progress
2. Understand the connections between student and staff belonging
3. Develop strategies to foster a sense of belonging among staff and students in their own institution

Got something that you want to share?

Do you have a topic that you’d like to speak about? Feel like you can help spread useful knowledge amongst your peers in the Higher Education sector? Get in touch with the Student Experience and Engagement Network team by emailing Network Coordinator, David Gilani – D.Gilani@mdx.ac.uk

We run regular sessions with practitioners across the world of student and experience and engagement where you could showcase your great work.