Published on 08/09/2020
Smiling female sat at desk with monitor screen


Leaders from universities and the world of policy and business will come together to debate the future of higher education in the UK at an online conference on 22 September.

Partnerships and Innovation: The Future of HE, is being hosted by the Centre for Innovation and Learning (CILE), a virtual centre between Cranfield and Aston Universities, which is funded by the Office for Students.

The centre aims to advance innovation within UK higher education. Its work directly contributes to the proposed ‘new model’ technical university MK:U based in Milton Keynes.

The conference comes at a critical time for the HE sector as it absorbs the changes to operating and business models post Covid-19, prepares to re-open for autumn student arrivals, and awaits the Government’s response to the Augar Review and the publication of a White Paper on the future of further education.

The conference will be structured around four themes: the importance of employer partnership with HE, how the future needs of students can be met, how staff can be recruited and developed to meet the needs of a changed HE sector and the critical role of technology in enhancing the UK HE offer.

Speakers at this free conference include Rachel Wolf, founding partner of Public First and Lord Jim Knight, chief education and external officer at TES Global. It will also feature case studies from Cranfield, Aston, Queens and Wolverhampton Universities, as well as talks from Santander Universities and Microsoft.

Professor Lynette Ryals OBE, Chief Executive of MK:U Ltd and Pro-Vice-Chancellor at Cranfield University, said:

“The UK’s higher education sector is a leading light on the world stage but like all great things it needs to adapt and change to continue to be relevant to its customers – students, business and Government.

“We have been doing a lot of thinking, as we have developed the proposals for MK:U, about how the sector can adapt and innovate to create graduates truly ready for the world of work in an increasingly technological economy. This conference is a fantastic opportunity for the sector to get together to think about what a re-imagined HE might look like.”

Professor Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Aston University, said:

“This conference comes at a critical time for the sector. All of us have had to adapt to the challenges of Covid-19 and, with several major policy announcements due, it’s important that we as a sector listen not just to each other but hear from employers and policy thinkers about what the future of HE should look like.

“At CILE, we believe that working together in collaboration with a range of stakeholders is the only way forward.  We have set ourselves the challenge of developing ideas for what HE should look like in the future. As well as hearing from some influential key speakers, this conference will showcase our work and seek to support others in the sector as they develop their future thinking.”

Find out more and register for free




Notes to editors

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive.

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