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At this unique one day event, we’ll rethink the student experience – bringing together sector leaders and managers, as well as student leaders and students’ union managers, to get a rounded picture of the state of the student condition in 2019.

What do generational shifts mean for campus culture, teaching and learning, and student support? How can we close the expectations gap? Which bits of the student body do we miss when we talk about “students”? What do students want from their career – and what do employers want? And how can data and research help drive effective policy that improves students’ experiences and outcomes?

We’ll feature all the major findings into students from the past year and launch exciting new research into belonging, friendship and social capital on campus. It’s an essential event for anyone working on policy and delivery for students.

Agenda and themes

Registration will open at 09.15, event to start at 09.50, finishing at 17:00.

Full Agenda

9.50am Only the lonely: Get the headline results of research from Wonkhe/Trendence on student loneliness.

10.10am Chris Skidmore: The new universities minister will set out the government’s agenda and priorities on students and the student experience.

10.40am Generation Z goes to uni: Gen Z (those born 1995 through 2010) are rapidly replacing Millennials on campuses. These students are driven by different motivations, learning styles, characteristics, skill sets, and social concerns than previous generations. If universities are to stay relevant, they must learn to adapt their courses, programs, processes, environments, and initiatives to meet the needs of this next cohort of students.

11.40am Break

12.10pm Great Expectations: There is a gulf between what students think higher education will be like and what it’s actually like. In that gulf lies the risk of disappointment, lacklustre academic engagement or poor retention. But it also creates the possibility that we might transform or even exceed students’ expectations. This session will mobilise the best of current evidence on the expectations gaps to posit hypotheses about what students expect from us and what we should do about it.

12.50pm Lunch

1.40pm Minding and closing the gaps: The BaME attainment gap is widely recognised as an area for action in higher education, but what lesser-known gaps are we overlooking? The difficulties faced by students commuting long distances to study, part-time students, and students on distance-learning courses among many others can give rise to significant gaps in recruitment, retention, achievement and outcomes. This session digs deep to explore where these gaps are and what we can do to close them.

2.20pm The student environment: A rapidly changing world means that the lives of our students are increasingly becoming more complex and layered. Do we really know enough about the big issues impacting the wellbeing of students, and the communities in which they are a part of? And more importantly, do we know how to best create an university environment that supports the aspirations of our students as human beings? This session will unpack these important questions with fresh new insights.

3.00pm Break

3.30pm Researching students for impact: Nearly everyone uses student surveys – but our survey instruments and processes are often not fit for purpose, and even where they are the standard of interpretation and synthesis can leave a lot to be desired. Social media analytics have their own, related, set of issues. But there are a few simple, key, things that people can do to get this stuff right – and gain a much better understanding of the student experience. Our expert speakers will introduce their own work and give you straightforward advice and support to improve your own practice.

4.10pm The rest of their lives: What do careers look like for today’s students? Is “employability” a dated concept or an essential to be inserted into the curriculum? What are students looking for from employers, and how can universities (and their regulation) help or hinder their future success out in the world?

4.50pm Closing remarks

Confirmed speakers

  • Chris Skidmore

    Universities Minister

    Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation

  • Meghan Grace

    Author, Gen Z Goes to College

    Author, Generation Z Goes to College

  • Dasha Karzunina


    Dasha Karzunina – Head Of Research – Group GTI

  • Hannah Shrimpton


    Research Manager, MORI

  • Nick Hillman


    Director, Higher Education Policy Institute

  • Elaine Boyes


    Executive Director, Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services

  • Alex Bols


    Deputy Chief Executive, GuildHE

  • David Malcolm

    National Union of Students

    Head of Policy, National Union of Students UK

  • Jenny Shaw

    Unite Students

    Student Experience Director, Unite Students

  • Aaron Porter

    IDP Connect / Advance HE

    IDP Connect Director of Insights and Programme Director, Advance HE

  • Alex Griffiths

    Statica Research

    Alex Griffiths

  • Graeme Wise

    University Alliance

    Graeme Wise

  • Mike Grey


    Mike Grey

  • Michelle Morgan

    Bournemouth University

    Michelle Morgan

  • Rachel Piper

    Student Minds

    Rachel Piper

  • Liz Austen

    Sheffield Hallam

    Liz Austen

  • Jayne Aldridge

    Chair, AMOSSHE

    Jayne Aldridge

  • Sarah Howls

    Office for Students

    Head of Access and Participation (Regulation and Funding)

  • Cath Brown

    Open University Students Association

    Cath is President of the Open University Students Association.

  • Liz Marr

    Open University

    Liz is Interim Pro-Vice Chancellor (Students) at the Open University.

  • Simon Lewis

    Middlesex University

    Simon is Head of Planning at Middlesex University.

In partnership with:

In partnership with: