New approaches to HE: partnerships and innovation

Online Conference

22nd September 2020

We’re excited to announce a brand-new collaborative online conference from the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Education (CILE). Funded by the Office for Students, CILE is a virtual centre between Cranfield and Aston Universities which aims to advance innovation within UK Higher Education (HE).

Suitable for all HE professionals, September’s conference will look at the needs of future HE students and staff as well as the important partnership between HE and employers.

Join us for some probing discussions to bring together learning from across the sector as we consider HE innovation in the new economy.

Conference themes:

  • Employers: the importance of partnership for future HE
  • Students: meeting the needs of the future HE student
  • Staff: recruiting and developing staff for the future of HE
  • Technology: supporting the future of HE.

Register here to receive updates on the full conference agenda and confirmed speakers.

Conference Agenda

This link will take you to MS Teams and will be available from 08:30 Tuesday, 22nd September


09.15 Event open


09.30 – 10.00 Introduction

Lynette Ryals, Chief Executive of MK:U Ltd and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University
Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Aston University


10.05 – 10.45 Keynote 1: The value and values of HE – what Westminster thinks about the future of universities and what that might mean

Rachel Wolf , Founding Partner of Public First

10.45 – 11.00 COFFEE BREAK


11.00 – 11.50 Theme 1: Employers – the importance of partnership for future HE

Lorraine Bell, MK:U Professional Skills Lead, Cranfield University
Emma Mason, Head of Business Intelligence, Aston University
Mark Homans, Senior Relationship Director, Santander Universities

Q&A moderated by Professor Lynette Ryals


11.50 – 12.00 BREAK


12.00 – 12.50 Theme 2: Students – meeting the needs of the future HE student

Ellen Pope, Head of the Learning Development Centre, Aston University
Mel Ellis, Mastership Operations Manager, Cranfield University & Michael Bernon, Associate Professor of Supply Chain leadership, Cranfield University
Andy McDowell, Senior Lecturer, Queens University Belfast

Q&A moderated by Professor Helen Higson


12.50 – 13.30 LUNCH BREAK


This link will take you to MS Teams and will be available from 08:30 Tuesday, 22nd September


13.30 – 14.10 Keynote 2: Regeneration through Education: Re-inventing Universities’ Social Purpose

Lord Jim Knight , Chief Education and External Officer at TES Global


14.10 – 14.15 BREAK


14.15 – 15.05 Theme 3: Staff – recruiting and developing staff for the future of HE

Chris Wilson, Lecturer, Education Department, Aston University
Rebecca Jarrett, Head of Resourcing, Cranfield University
Paul Towers, Educational Developer, Wolverhampton University and Gemma Witton, Educational Developer, Wolverhampton University

Q&A moderated by Professor Lynette Ryals


15.05 – 15.20 COFFEE BREAK


15.20 – 16.10 Theme 4: Technology – supporting the future of HE

Gillian Knight, Associate Dean in Education, Aston University
Graham Bell, Director Digital Education, Cranfield University
Ian Woolner, Modern Education Solution Specialist, Microsoft

Q&A moderated by Professor Helen Higson


16.15  Close and future collaboration

Lynette Ryals, Chief Executive of MK:U Ltd and Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Cranfield University
Helen Higson, Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Aston University


Rachel Wolf

Rachel Wolf is a Founding Partner at Public First. Rachel’s career has spanned business, charities, politics and Government. Previously education and innovation adviser to the Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street, she was Senior Vice President for technology company Amplify in New York City, running one of their main product divisions. She founded and ran the New Schools Network – the charity that helped develop and implement the Government’s free schools programme. Rachel has written for national think tanks and most major broadsheets and she has appeared on all the major broadcast shows. Rachel began her career as an education and political adviser to the Conservative Party and was a policy adviser to Boris Johnson on his first mayoral campaign and in his earlier role as Shadow Higher Education Minister.

Jim Knight

Jim Knight, The Rt Hon Lord Knight of Weymouth

Jim Knight works in education, digital technology and as a legislator. He is the Chief Education Adviser at Tes Global Ltd, advising on key strategic partnerships. He founded Tes Institute in 2014, which is now the fifth largest qualifier of teachers in England; he has also managed Tes Resources, a global teacher community of 13.5 million users.  Jim is a founder of XRapid, using artificial intelligence to power the diagnosis of malaria and asbestos fibres using iPads and microscopy.

As a UK government minister his portfolios included rural affairs, schools, digital and employment.  He was a member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet 2009-2010, before joining the Lords after the 2010 General Election.  He is also Honorary President of COBIS, Chair of Whole Education, and advises the London School of Commerce and the education work of the social impact agency Purpose.