Top five reasons you need to be at Wonkfest

If you know me – or have had a conversation with me in the last twelve months – you’ll know that I have been living and breathing Wonkfest17. From a twinkle in Mark’s eye to the biggest event of the HE calendar, Wonkfest has been a labour of love (and some tears) to create. As the tickets begin to sell out, I wanted to give you my top reasons not to miss spending the best two days of the year with your fellow wonks.

1) Two days of non-stop policy

HE policy never stops and so why should Wonkfest? With over 70 different speakers and 40 different sessions, we’ve packed the programme so you can get to see as much amazing content as possible. No stuffy coffee breaks or beige buffets here, we’ll have street food stalls open for lunch, and coffee stations, a juice bar, and water coolers available all day for both days. No need to miss a thing.

With so much on, you should probably start deciding what you want to see. You can build your own programme on the Wonkfest website.

2) Five very different stages

We haven’t just got a big line up, we’ve built variety into the programme with five different stages or areas to chose from. If you want to watch one of our headline acts, participate in an informed debate in the subject you are passionate about, or maybe learn something entirely new, the decision is entirely yours.

Main Stage: Hear from our headline acts.

  • Debate Stages: Experts discuss and debate all areas of higher education policy.
  • Learning to Wonk: Interactive workshops and training to help you realise the potential of your inner wonk.
  • Wonk Corner: Tips, tricks and toolkits – from wonks, for wonks.
  • The Guardian Stage: A more relaxed and conversational stage – The Guardian will lead discussions and masterclasses on the media and HE.

Don’t forget about the Wonk Lounge – this is a place to stop and decompress – make those notes, send those emails, catch up with a colleague, or play some jenga!

3) Hang out with the best wonks…

There will be loads of opportunities to catch up with friends and colleagues from across the sector. We’ve built in time after each session to analyse, scrutinise and debate everything you’ve just heard. You can quiz our speakers and talk to key people about the latest thinking. This is all about ensuring you get to meet new people, explore new perspectives and understand new ways of thinking.

More importantly, I’ll be there and some say I’m the best wonk there is. And by some, I mean that I do…

4) …and celebrate their expertise!

As we are bringing the HE policy community together, it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate their contributions. But who needs statistically questionable league tables when you can win a Wonkhe award! All ticket holders are invited to join us for our first ever Wonkhe awards on the evening of Monday 6th November. But don’t be confused, this won’t be a three-course formal meal with long, boring speeches. Instead, it’s a time to raise a cheeky glass of prosecco, enjoy non-beige canapes and share laughs with your peers (and some actual Peers).

And with the awards designed and made especially for Wonkhe by Ravensbourne students, we are hoping to instill some competition.

5) Make policy great again!

We’ve always believed policy is great at Wonkhe, but it has had a rough ride in recent years. Michael Gove claimed Britain had “had enough of experts” and for a while we seemed very out of fashion. But as we face some of the biggest geo-political changes of our generation, it’s time for policy to make a comeback. Wonkfest provides the space to develop and nuture our skills, from data analysis to career coaching through to big debates. So be there and get your wonk on!

Of course, Wonkfest will be great because of the attendees. But we’ve done everything in our power to make it the best HE policy event of the year. So get your tickets while there are some left and I’ll see you there!

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