HESPA 2019 > Programme > Speakers







Janice Aitken 

Associate Dean for Public and Community Engagement, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee

Janice Aitken is a Reader in Art and Design and artist who has worked in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, University of Dundee since 2003. She currently teaches in Contemporary Art Practice and is Associate Dean for Public and Community Engagement.

She recently led a review of the Effectiveness of Senate in the University of Dundee and has been involved in many working groups relating to strategic and operational improvements in the University culture, communications and public engagement.

In her role as Associate Dean, she is responsible for public and community engagement activity in the School. In her University capacity, she coordinates the University's relationship with V&A Dundee and the City Council. She is also a member of the School Executive Group, University Senate and University Court. 

Aitken is a trustee of several organisations including the Duncan of Jordanstone Centenary Trust, Dundee Women's Aid, Tin Roof Artist's Collective and is a Director of The Centre for Transformative Change: Educational and Life Transitions (TCELT).


Zac Ashkanasy

Principal, Nous Group

Zac is an award-winning Principal with Nous Group. He brings close to 25 years of business and consulting experience. This includes working with many tertiary institutions in the UK, Australia and Asia. Zac works closely with Vice Chancellors and their senior leaders on solving key institutional questions and implementing their solutions. Examples include the scale and focus on an institution, research performance, contemporary teaching and learning models, and student experience and supports.

Zac’s work combines expertise in business strategy, organisational design and innovation together with fostering productive interactions between people. Executives and staff value his provocative, practical mind-set and engaging nature. Zac won the 2015 ‘most client focused management consultant’ in the Australian Financial Review awards.


Ant Bagshaw

Director, Nous Group

Ant Bagshaw is a Director at management consultancy Nous Group. He was previously Wonkhe's Deputy CEO and has written extensively on its blogs about teaching excellence, university strategies and poor-quality policy making amongst other topics. Before Wonkhe, Ant worked at the London School of Economics and University of Kent in roles supporting senior management teams.

Ant is a doctoral student at the University of Sheffield and is co-editing a book on policy and public affairs in higher education.


Eric Bohms

Managing Director, Achievability

Eric Bohms is Managing Director at Achievability, previously known as Electric Paper Ltd. He has nearly 20 years' experience of working in the software sector. He is passionate about the HE student experience and has specialist knowledge of HE policy and processes in this area. He also specialises in disruptive technologies, new product development, knowledge management, survey design and deployment, and testing and assessment.


Mike Boxall

Senior Advisor, Further and Higher Education, PA Consulting Group

Mike Boxall has been working at the leading edge of changes in higher and further education management for over 30 years. He works with universities and education providers, government agencies and sector bodies to help them anticipate, evaluate, plan and implement responses to the disruptions reshaping the global tertiary education system and the fortunes of everyone concerned with it. His expertise is in market assessments, institutional strategies, business planning and organisational change, plus managing the engagement of multiple stakeholder interests in change programmes. 

Mike is well-known across the UK higher education sector, having worked with a large proportion of its institutions and leadership teams, and also for his thought leadership in anticipating the changes that they face. This has been shared through extensive published reports, articles and conference presentations, notably the influential 'Red Queen' papers and other reports published through PA Consulting Group including PA's annual surveys of HE leaders.


Alison Brunt

Head of Institutional Performance Measures: Data, Foresight and Analysis, Office for Students 

Alison Brunt is Head of Institutional Performance Measures within the Data, foresight and analysis directorate at the Office for Students. She is responsible for the production and development of provider-level metrics used in the TEF, access and participation activities and in OfS's regulation more generally.

Alison previously worked in HEFCE's analytical team for 10 years, with responsibilities across a number of areas including the continued development of HESA's UK Performance Indicators for higher education. During that time she led on analysis of student destinations and of supply and demand in HE subject areas. 


Dr Colin Campbell

Director of Strategic Planning, Newcastle University

Colin joined Newcastle University in October 2016 as Director of Strategic Planning and is responsible for supporting the development, implementation and monitoring of the University's Vision and Strategy. He is the University's lead on strategic risk, statutory returns, large-scale projects and change management. Colin is also responsible for providing management information and policy insight for the Vice Chancellor and the University's Executive Board.

Colin has a PhD in Geography from the University of Edinburgh and worked in Scotland for ten years at the universities of Stirling (where he was Head of Policy, Planning and Governance) and St Andrews (at the Centre for Housing Research). He also worked as policy advisor in two local authorities and has a strong interest in the design of effective services and business processes.


Mark Charlton

Associate Director of Public Engagement, De Montfort University (DMU)

Mark is Associate Director of Public Engagement at De Montfort University. For the past seven years he has led an award-winning programme of community activity that has demonstrated the university as a force for public good in the city and beyond. Much of this work has been replicated overseas, particularly in a community in India. Recently this engagement work has been refocused to impact the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 


Caroline Chipperfield

Business Development Director, UPP

Caroline is currently Business Development Director at the University Partnership Programme (UPP). Previously she worked for the British Council advising on Higher Education policy and programmes including the response to Brexit, Going Global, EU-ASEAN SHARE dialogues and overseeing inward and outward delegations. Caroline has worked in a number of UK universities advising on policy and strategy although originally trained as a Physics teacher. She has a Master's degree in International Policy and Diplomacy where her dissertation considered the role of universities in soft power and is currently studying for a Professional Doctorate in Higher Education Management with the University of Bath.



Dan Cook

Head of Policy & Development, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Head of Policy and Development at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Dan has worked in Higher Education for twenty years, at the universities of Bristol, Southampton and Exeter. In 2014 Dan moved to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Dan leads on futures and foresight work, research strategy, and engagement with the HE policy and data landscape, to support HESA’s strategy development. He also oversees strategic product management and innovation, working with product owners across the Agency to drive value and improvement. Dan’s work covers the full range of HESA’s activity, and included work on the DLSG Logical Model and the Data Futures Collection Design and Collection Governance projects. Dan led the UK’s national review of data requirements about graduate destinations and outcomes, which developed and proposed the openly centralised Graduate Outcomes survey. Dan holds an MBA in HE management from UCL’s Institute of Education, and an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Exeter.


Myles Danson 

Product Owner (Business Intelligence Service), Jisc

Myles has worked in the Higher Education sector for 22 years. Most recently he has become the Product Owner for Jisc 'Analytics Labs' service which has seen some 300 sector-based analysts from 115 UK HEIs join Myles and his team. Analytics Labs support participants in developing their own skills and knowledge of business intelligence for education through the development of timely data underpinned insights into key themes of interest to the University sector.

Myles leads for Jisc on the sister initiative, a collaboration with HESA creating high quality, high value 'suites' of interactive dashboards and data visualisations and distributing them to a varied customer base of University sections and staff roles. Previously, Myles was a Jisc programme manager exploring a wide range of sector issues and opportunities. He also spent 10 years working at Loughborough University.


Amatey Doku 

Vice President (Higher Education), NUS

Amatey Doku is the current Vice President Higher Education and Deputy President of the National Union of Students. In that role he is also on the Board of Trustees for NUS and was appointed as Deputy President by the NUS President, Shakira Martin. 

Before taking up his position within NUS, Amatey had served for a year as the President of Cambridge University Students' Union. 

Amatey graduated in 2016 with a BA in Human, Social and Political Sciences, specialising in Sociology. His dissertation, titled “Is Oxbridge Institutionally Racist?" focused on institutional racism across the HE sector using Cambridge as a major case study. 

As Vice President for Higher Education, Amatey has led on work on tackling institutional racism across the HE Sector, specifically on the Black Attainment Gap and has taken a lead on the NUS's Brexit strategy, calling for a People's Vote on the final Brexit deal.


Michael Evans

Sales Director, Billigence 

I work with institutions to leverage their data - by improving quality and trust in the data, we can derive high value insight and solutions for decision-making. Examples of our work include: Student Number Planning models with Alteryx, Campus Utilisation improvements, HESA Data Futures and Data Governance. We are also specialise in predictive modelling which can be used for preventing student drop out and improving league tables positioning.


Dr Catriona Firth 

Head of REF Policy, Research England

Catriona Firth is the Head of REF Policy working within the REF Team at Research England. She previously worked as a Policy Adviser in HEFCE's Institutions Directorate, managing relationships with higher education institutions across the South West of England. 

Prior to joining HEFCE, she worked in Research and Impact Services at the University of Warwick, first as Impact Officer for the Arts Faculty and, subsequently, as Research Strategy and Development Manager for Social Sciences.


Dr Paul Greatrix

Registrar, University of Nottingham 

Dr Paul Greatrix is Registrar at the University of Nottingham, a post he was appointed to in January 2007. Prior to this he was Deputy Registrar at the University of Warwick. Earlier positions at Warwick included Director of Student and Ancillary Services, Acting Registrar, Interim Director of the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth and Senior Assistant Registrar with responsibility for quality issues. Before joining Warwick in 1998 he was at the University of East Anglia for six years, where he also worked on quality matters, and Staffordshire University. As Registrar he is responsible to the Vice-Chancellor for the academic administration of the University. As well as being Secretary to the statutory bodies of the University and a member of University Executive Board, the Registrar manages the provision of a broad range of professional services for prospective students, current students and staff. Paul read English Language at the University of Edinburgh, and holds a PhD from the School of Education at the University of East Anglia. He blogs regularly for Wonkhe as Registrarism.  


Adam Green 

Senior Data and Visualisation Officer, Business Intelligence at Jisc

Adam has recently joined Jisc as Senior data and visualisation officer, he is often found scoping and Srum mastering ‘Analytics Labs’ which support participants in developing their own skills and knowledge of business intelligence for education addressing hot and emerging topics facing the ever changing HE sector. He is also found creating high quality interactive dashboards and data visualisations in a highly focused and experienced joint HESA and Jisc development team. He has worked in the Higher Education sector for over 13 years, and has also spent time leading a business intelligence management information team at the University of East Anglia.


Dr Carol Hall 

Director Undergraduate Education, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences

Dr Carol Hall is Professor in Nursing Education at the University of Nottingham. Carol has particular interest in the development of excellence in nursing and healthcare education and has contributed expertise to the Council of Deans for Health in the UK, the Royal College of Nursing and the Nursing and Midwifery Council. 

Carol has chaired review and accreditation panels for nursing and health sciences programmes nationally and internationally and was an observer for the 'Tuning Project' (European Nursing subject validation). She was appointed Chair of the UK Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Subject Pilot Panel for Medicine and Health Sciences in 2017-2018 and is Chair of the Nursing and Allied Health Subject Plot Panel in 2018-19.


Sophie Haworth 

Customer Success Manager, Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

After several years' experience of professional training in a financial and regulatory frameworks, Sophie was appointed the role of trainer at HESA in 2009 in order to expand and develop the training team. HESA now deliver training to over 2000 delegates every year through a combination of sector-wide events and consultancy, which cover the range of HESA records and Heidi Plus. Sophie's training focused on the management of data collection processes, sharing best practice, driving improvements and understanding the onwards use of data.

In August 2018 Sophie was appointed HESA's first Customer Success Manager and now leads on providing and improving the customer experience across a wide range of HESA's products and services. Sophie is particularly passionate about enhancing customer success through feedback, support, product and service data and event channels. The Customer Success team is responsible for improving and supporting the Heidi Plus business intelligence tool and it's customers - which now total 3,500+ across the HE sector. 


Dr Andrew Jackson 

Director of Research and Innovation Services, Durham University 

Dr Andrew Jackson joined Durham University in June 2015 as Director of Research and Innovation Services. He is responsible for leadership of staff and functions in the Research and Innovation Services directorate and for supporting the development and delivery of the institution-wide Research and Engagement strategy. He is a member of several University committees and contributes to broader University-wide strategy and policy development. 

His previous career spans both industry and academia. Andrew has held senior roles in businesses ranging from board-level positions in University spin-out companies to programme management roles in multinationals (Siemens, Canon, Nokia). He has extensive experience of working for, and with, higher education institutions in the UK and internationally. 
Prior to joining Durham, Andrew spent seven years at the University of York, where he led the University's Research & Innovation Office, delivering pre-award support across all of York's 27 academic departments. 

Andrew is a Chartered Engineer and holds a PhD from the University of York and an MBA from the Open University Business School.


Nick Johnstone 

Head of Policy, Strategic Planning and Analysis, Ravensbourne University

Nick is a member of the HESPA Executive and co-chair of HESPA's Policy Interest Group. He has been at Ravensbourne University London since December 2015. He manages a small team in this small specialist institution, covering strategy development, horizon-scanning and institutional response to policy change, KPIs and TEF.

From 2009 to 2015 Nick was Policy Adviser at the representative body GuildHE, where he worked with central and devolved governments, funding councils and regulators on the major policy reforms of that period. He has experience across the HE sector, from large research-intensive universities to small specialists.


Alison Jones


University Secretary & Director of Planning, Legal and Governance, University of Bradford

Alison Jones was the Director of Planning and Governance at the University of Bradford, having previously been the Head of Strategic Planning at Leeds Metropolitan University. Alison has twenty years' experience of working in higher education, ranging across strategic and operational planning, policy advice and guidance, corporate governance and project management and process improvement.

Along with being the HESPA Chair, Alison sits on the HESA Third Party Data Working Group and was a member of the HESA Longitudinal DLHE Steering Group. Alison is also a Trustee of a charity providing respite care for families with children with disabilities. 


Christine M. Keller

Executive Director and CEO, Association for Institutional Research, United States

Christine M. Keller is Executive Director of the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). A nonprofit membership association serving over 3,000 members, AIR provides educational resources, best practices, and professional development opportunities to its members and the IR community.

A longtime member, prior to joining AIR as Executive Director, Christine was Vice President for Research and Policy Analysis at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU). She is on the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) Advisory Board and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership from the University of Kansas.



Daniel Kidd

Deputy Academic Registrar, University of Wolverhampton


Daniel has been working with data in UK higher education for over 15 years. Having previously worked in student data roles within HE providers, Daniel joined the Higher Education Statistics Agency in 2006 with a remit to develop the training and consultancy function. During his time at HESA Daniel worked with over 150 UK higher education providers and overseas governments across a range of activities such as improving data capture and quality assurance processes, enhancing analysis, as well as identifying improvement strategies for data capability and governance. 

In January 2018 Daniel took up the post of Director of Planning at Arden University with a broad remit across planning and statutory compliance activities. Daniel has recently begun a new role as Deputy Academic Registrar at University of Wolverhampton. Daniel co-authored a chapter on 'Data capability across the information landscape' within 'Higher Education Strategy and Planning: A professional guide' (Routledge, 2018).



Laura Knox

HESPA Conference Chair and Director of Planning, University of St Andrews

Laura is the Director of Planning and has responsibility for the planning, analytical services, risk management and timetabling functions at the University of St Andrews. She joined the University in 2008 after holding a number of research, analytical and planning support roles within the public and HE sectors. 

Laura works in partnership with Senior Leadership team and the Directors of Professional Services ensuring collaboration and coherence across the organisation, underpinned by a new strategic plan. She enjoys regular collaboration and engagement with colleagues across the UK, primarily via the HESPA (including the HESPA Executive) and Scottish Planners Forum.


Aneesah Latkan

3rd year Law Student, De Montfort University (DMU) 

Aneesah thought her dreams of studying law were shattered as she wasn't accepted into her first-choice university. After going through clearing, being accepted by DMU's Law School and winning the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship Award. She has been able to travel extensively, attend university and help by volunteering.

Last summer, Aneesah was given the opportunity to travel to New York and speak at the United Nations 67th Department of Public Information/ Non-Governmental Organisation Conference, suggesting methods to meet the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals. 

#DMUlocal allows students, like Aneesah, to volunteer locally and internationally: packing clothes in local donation banks, to cooking meals for refugees in Berlin. Aneesah also spent time volunteering with the DMU Square Mile India project teaching computer coding in Ahmedabad. 

As a sandwich year student, Aneesah is now working in the Public Engagement department under the directorate of the Strategic and International Partnerships (SIPs). 


Mark Leach

CEO, Wonkhe

Mark Leach is the founder, CEO and Editor in Chief of Wonkhe. Mark worked in policy, politics and public affairs in and around UK higher education and founded Wonkhe in 2011 while working as a jobbing policy wonk in the sector. Mark began full-time work on Wonkhe in mid-2014 growing it into a thriving business based in Central London. As CEO, Mark is responsible for running and developing Wonkhe and as Editor in Chief oversees Wonkhe’s editorial platforms.


Dr Thomas Loya

Director, T Loya Consulting

From 2007 to 2018 Dr Tom Loya was Director of the Strategy, Planning and Performance Division at the University of Nottingham. He was a contributing author to the 2017 HESPA edited volume 'Higher Education: Strategy and Planning', providing the chapter on Business Intelligence and Analytics, and Chair of the Russell Group Director of Strategy and Planning (2010-2012). In 2018 he began an independent consulting service, supporting universities in the areas of strategy development and business analytics capability. He is currently working closely with the Jisc-HESA Community Dashboards programme, supporting the commercial development of the new service.

Prior to joining the HE sector, he spent 10 years with Experience in a number of roles, including developing and leading a user interface and user experience quality standards programme across its UK business services.


Thomas Marinko

Vice President, Business Development, Hypergene

Thomas is a member of Hypergenes management team and leading Hypergenes international growth and alliances. With experience from leading positions in various Software companies and 20 years of working together with many clients from different industries - Thomas is dedicated in helping organisations become more efficient and successful within performance management.


Steve McDonald 

Head of Buisness Intelligence and Data Governance, University of Glasgow

Steve has 12 years experience delivering strategic and operational data centric projects across banking, gaming, private organisations, local government and health sectors. His current focus is on strategic analytics, agile data governance and automation within the HE sector as Head of Business Intelligence & Data Governance for the University of Glasgow.


Tierney Morris 

3rd year International Business Student, De Montfort University (DMU)

Tierney Morris is a 20 year old International Business student at De Montfort University and is currently undertaking a placement year in Public Engagement in #DMUlocal and Square Mile, based in the directorate of Strategic and International Partnerships. From volunteering heavily in Girl Guiding UK and Scope in her home of London, this is where Tierney’s passion for community and outreach work began and what eventually led to working in Public Engagement. Studying International Business was almost to be expected after growing up in the country’s business centre London and visiting international hubs New York, Hong Kong, Thailand and India with De Montfort has increased her passion even more.

The opportunities at De Montfort has allowed her to continue in her extra-curricular, including completing extra qualifications in a range of subjects and being on the committee for the Pole Fitness Society. De Montfort has also offered Tierney the opportunity to be the first person in her family to experience HE and complete a degree. Reading has always been a passion for Tierney, the diversity within the university has broadened the texts she enjoys.


Nabeelah Ahmed Omarjee

PhD Student, De Montfort University (DMU)

Nabeelah Ahmed Omarjee is an international student from Zimbabwe, studying towards a PhD in Cognitive Psychology at De Montfort University, in Leicester. she enjoyed dedicating her time to worthwhile causes and has had the opportunity to volunteer on several different projects with the University. She has volunteered as an English Tutor to refugees and asylum-seekers, a Diabetes Community Champion, and an Achievement Mentor. She has also volunteered with Refugees in Germany and Cyprus as part of the UN #JoinTogether Campaign, and built washrooms in a school in India.

Nabeelah works part-time with the University as a Teaching Assistant within the Division of Psychology and as a Student Ambassador. She has developed both personally and professionally and has gained invaluable transferable skills over the years. The phenomenal opportunities and life-changing experiences available to all, makes me proud to be a student at DMU.


Oliver Peppiatt

Education Consultant, PA Consulting

Oliver Peppiatt is a Consultant with PA Consulting specialising in Education. Oliver is highly experienced in transforming organisations through complex change programmes, and has specific expertise in advising clients on successful service transformations, especially in higher education. Most recently, Oliver managed an engagement programme for a Russell Group university that included more than 100 events reaching over 2000 members of staff.

Oliver is also skilled in developing business cases using the HMT approved 5 case model to underpin successful projects and programmes. Prior to becoming a Consultant, Oliver has a wide range of education experience, including two years as a primary school teacher and a Masters in Educational Leadership.


Professor Manuel Frutos-Perez PFHEA

Director of Business Development , Cambridge Education Group Digital

Manuel is the Director of Business Development at the digital division of Cambridge Education Group. He works developing partnerships with prestigious universities and helping them widen the reach of their educational activities, taking full advantage of the possibilities offered by high quality online learning provision and international markets. He is also a Visiting Professor in Digital Learning at the Academic Practice Directorate, University of the West of England, UK.

Manuel is an international learning technology expert with over 20 years teaching, research and management experience as an academic. He has worked and collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams at universities across Europe. His formal academic background in Linguistics and Modern Foreign Languages, together with a life-long interest in the use of technology led him to develop a career in the fields of Learning Enhancement, Technology Enhanced Learning, Distance, Blended and Distributed Learning. He is an active researcher in the field of Cognitive Computing, exploring the affordances that Artificial Intelligence can bring into the learning process and the development of sophisticated automated learning simulations. 


Simon Perks

Director, Sockmonkey Consulting

Simon is founder and director of Sockmonkey Consulting, which helps organisations across the public, not-for-profit and social enterprise sectors to make better decisions, to improve their performance and to achieve better value for money. Simon works with universities on issues ranging from strategic planning to workload modelling. He helps them to better understand the value that they create for their students, funders and society and to tell captivating stories that engage, entertain and inspire. Simon is a chartered public finance accountant and a qualified executive coach.

He has degrees in political science and theoretical physics. He speaks English, French, German and Russian and can get by in Dutch, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. He is currently learning Scottish Gaelic. When he is not working, Simon is usually out running, rowing or paddleboarding.

He is also a keen writer, astronomer, banjo player and tea drinker. He lives near Bristol with his wife, Natalie, and Molly and Ozzy, his Labrador dogs. 


Julian Porch

Future Engagement Coordinator (ArtsSU)

Currently working in PG medical education, Julian was formerly the Academic Officer and trustee of the University of York Students' Union (YUSU) where he represented over 18,000 students in their learning and teaching. His role included coordinating YUSU's network of over 475 Academic Reps who feed into the University's QA and review processes, steering the strategic direction of YUSU, inputting into the operations and strategic direction of the University in a number of places in the University's governance, and responding to sector developments and communicating these to his constituents. 

Before his term as a sabbatical officer, Julian read English at the University of York, where he graduated with an upper 2:1. He wrote his undergraduate dissertation on how internet memes operate as texts, and their use as a form of political discourse. He looks forward to taking up his new post at ArtsSU later this month.


John Pritchard

Director of Strategic Planning, Durham University

John has worked across a diverse range of universities – pre- and post-92, north and south of the border – and for several national policy bodies including the Scottish Funding Council, Universities UK and the Higher Education Academy. He played a central role in the development of Durham University’s strategic plan, particularly in relation to the future size and shape of the institution. He is currently responsible for enabling associated delivery in relation to academic planning, business intelligence and horizon scanning, market analysis and risk management. John is Chair of the Russell Group Directors of Strategy and Planning, a member of the HESPA executive committee, and leads the member network on university strategy development.

He is a board trustee of Groundwork North East and Cumbria, a charity which changes lives through community and environmental regeneration. His interests outside work include art, psychogeography and David Bowie. He welcomes the prospect of living in interesting times.



Leah Ewing Ross

Head of Research, Association of Institutional Research, United States 

Leah Ewing Ross is Senior Director for Research for the Association for Institutional Research (AIR). She leads AIR's national research, scholarship, and innovation agenda to effectively position IR within the changing landscape of higher education. She partners with stakeholders to create forward-looking models to advance evidence-based decision making, and to equip higher education professionals with the knowledge and tools they need as leaders within their organisations. 

Leah holds a PhD in Educational Leadership from Iowa State University.


Miranda Routledge

Director of Planning, Loughborough University

Miranda has worked at Loughborough University across a variety of roles for almost 20 years. Her experience in previous roles spans governance, statutory returns, compliance, data analysis, student administrative processes, event planning and report writing. She was appointed as Director of Planning in April 2015 and it is by far the most interesting role she has had yet. Her teams' main areas of responsibility are strategic and annual planning, assurance of statutory returns, completion of funding returns, budgets and resource allocation and management information. 

Miranda joined HESPA as soon as she was appointed to this role and found it a really useful source of support. Miranda and Neil Davidson formed the Student Number Planning interest group a few months ago and look forward to working with the many colleagues who have already joined.


Ester Ruskuc

Director of Strategy and Policy, St Andrew University

Ester Ruskuc has over 20 years of HE experience. She is a member of the extended Principal's Office with leadership responsibility for strategy and policy development, implementation, institutional planning, and risk. She translates policy developments into institutional context and provides advice, scenarios for strategic decision making and analyses. She also oversees key the institutional planning processes and leads special projects. She maintains and develops some key partnerships in line with institutional objectives

Previously Ester was the Academic Registrar with leadership responsibility for the student life-cycle from application to graduation. She concurrently held the position of Director of Planning.

Following the introduction of the joint BA International Honours degree with the College of William and Mary in Virginia, US, Ester is a key senior administrative contact for the programme. She maintains and develops some key partnerships in line with institutional objectives

Ester studied Mathematics and Computer Science; and is fluent in Serbo-Croat and Hungarian in addition to English.


Dr Rosa Scoble

Director Planning & Policy, Brunel University London 

Dr Rosa Scoble is Director of Planning, Planning and Policy Department, at Brunel University London. Her areas of expertise are in the development of institutional strategies and, more specifically, research environments, metrics and pathways to impact. She is also an advocate for Open Science and the use of responsible metrics.

Her office is responsible for supporting the university strategy, the management and review of the academic planning cycle (including student number planning), management of risk, internal audit, setting and monitoring of KPIs. The office also provides analysis of sector policies, business intelligence and a Continuous Improvement programme.

She has applied her knowledge both nationally and globally through workshops, peer review activities, publications and funded projects. She led Brunel's RAE and REF submissions in 2008, 2014 and now for 2021. In 2018, under the Jisc HEIDI Labs programme, she led a team of colleagues from across the sector to develop a REF2021 prototype tool that focused on the assessment of the strength of environment statements drawing on HESA sector-wide data sources.

She was a member of HEFCE's Leadership, Governance & Management strategic board. In late 2018, she has been appointed as a member of the REF2021 institutional-level environment pilot panel.


Roland Shanks

Strategic Projects Manager, University of London

Roland has worked for the University of London for over 17 years. He has extensive experience of the Student Housing Sector, having managed the University's Private Housing Unit and set up Student Homes; the University's not for profit letting agency. 

More recently, having completed an MA in Urban Regeneration and PG Certificate in Property Development and Planning, Roland has moved into a more strategic role within the University's Property and Facilities Department.

This involves the monitoring of developments within the Higher Education Estate, providing market research and representing the interests of the Higher Education sector within the Mayor's Academic Forum. Roland is currently assisting the University with a range of strategic projects, including leading on the mapping project.


Richard Smith 

TEF Pilot Manager, Office for Students

Richard Smith is a senior manager at the Office for Students. He is responsible for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) Subject Pilots, which seek to find the most effective way of producing TEF ratings at subject, as well as college and university level.

Richard previously worked for HEFCE where he led activities relating to learning and teaching and widening participation. He has been responsible for developing HEFCE policy on teaching funding, has designed and managed sector-wide programmes on learning gain and addressing differential student outcomes, and commissioned research investigating the impact and effectiveness of funding and activity. Richard has served in an advisory capacity for a number of academic groups conducting research into social mobility and student outcomes.

Prior to joining HEFCE in 2011, Richard spent five years working on policy and communications at the Office for Fair Access.


Jennifer Stergiou

Director of Research and Innovation, University of Northumbria

Jennifer is Director of Research and Innovation Service at Northumbria University with responsibility for a wide range of research strategy, policy and support services including research grants and contracts, research systems, research quality and REF, researcher development, research policy, research funding and innovation. 

Jennifer is committed to the professionalisation and recognition of the research management and administration sector, and to improving the way in which we work together across the sector. Jennifer is a member of the Research Organisations and Councils Group (ROCG) and the Snowball Metrics project, and Chair of the UK chapter of CASRAI.


Erik Thelander

Director Product Management, Segment Solutions, Hypergene

Director Product Management, Segment Solutions at Hypergene. Erik has broad experience from the Software Solutions industry, combined with various positions within leading Management Consulting firms. With some 20+ years of experience, Erik is heading the Segment Solution team at Hypergene, responsible for defining and developing tailored solutions for selected focus industries, e.g. Higher Education Institutions.


Annette Vancil 

Director of Technology Transformation at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA)

Director of Technology Transformation at the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) Annette joined HESA in August 2018 and is the Programme Director for Data Futures. Annette has experience in Projects and IT service delivery including technical, sourcing and organisational change programmes. Her early career in IT and Project Management led to 15 years of varied and interesting roles leading Project and IT functions at Nationwide Building Society, and Technical Transition and Portfolio functions at UK SBS. Annette holds an Executive MBA from the University of Bath School of Management.


Laurens Vehmeijer

Analytics Consultant, Studyportals

Laurens Vehmeijer is an Analytics Consultant at Studyportals. He has a Master of Science in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences as well as a Master in Science and Business Management from Utrecht University. His research has been published in several research articles, whitepapers and blog posts, in subjects including biomedicine, business, GDPR and more recently international education.

Within Studyportals, Laurens' responsibilities include providing universities and other organisations involved in higher education with a variety of consulting services, such as marketing and recruitment strategies, market research and training.

His specialisation is research and data analysis as well as creating interactive market research dashboards. These dashboards allow higher education institutions to interactively explore the actionable data they need for informed decision making on strategic, tactical and operational levels.


Professor Shearer West

Vice-Chancellor, University of Nottingham

Professor Shearer West was appointed as the seventh Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Nottingham in October 2017.

Shearer is a Professor of Art History and has held a number of significant leadership roles in universities and higher education. She obtained her BA degree in Art History and English at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, and her PhD in Art History at St Andrews. 

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, the Higher Education Academy and the Royal Historical Society, she also has a number of international roles, most recently acting as main panel chair for the national research assessment exercise for Humanities in Norway and serving on the steering group to introduce impact into the Excellence in Research exercise in Australia.


Lindsay Wetton

Senior programme Manager D2N2 LEP

Lindsay has worked for five years for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership. She manages Innovation, Sector Development and Business Engagement for D2N2 and is the strategic lead for the business support and advice delivered by a range of partners through D2N2 Growth Hub. The Growth Hub offers a huge range of services from innovation, skills, finance, leadership & management and marketing to SMEs in our area www.d2n2growthhub.co.uk. 

Lindsay leads on the innovation agenda for the LEP, commissioning the Science & Innovation Audit for D2N2. Higher level skills are essential in the pursuit of a more productive economy. D2N2 is keen to continue the close working links with Universities as we work on the Local Industrial Strategy.

With over 15 years of experience in managing European Union and Government-funded Regeneration Programmes, including business support, grant programmes and project management of a number of capital projects, she has vast experience of business need in cities, urban and rural areas has allowed an insight into some specialist innovation and creativity that businesses in D2N2 are renowned for. 






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