Annual Conference



Strategic Planning in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Digital Planning for Digital Natives

It was with regret that we had to cancel the HESPA in-person annual conference which was due to be held on 9-10 February 2023. Due to insurance matters and other complications which were out of our control we were sadly unable to reschedule the event as a face-to-face offering this year.

We instead offered the same programme (subject to some minor alterations - see "programme" tab for full details) as a two day event via our virtual conference platform, Hopin. 

The so-called 4th Industrial Revolution sees the joining of technologies and blurring of lines between physical, digital and biological worlds. We need to be faster, smarter and more sustainable and this involves using technology as an enabler to support our education systems, students and staff in the current digital era. But despite this focus on technology, we must also highlight the importance of human qualities which cannot be replaced by artificial intelligence, and indeed the vital role of communication and human interaction as a partner to technology in achieving the best possible outcomes.

Strategic planning in higher education supports the sector’s leading reputation for world class education and research. Performance monitoring is a key aspect of this, along with proper use of data and planning processes for the effective development and implementation of strategy. Yet in a world where rapid change to technology and societal patterns and processes is caused by increasing interconnectivity and smart automation, what changes do we need to make to the way we strategize and plan our higher education offering, making sure it is flexible enough to withstand continual flux, and robust enough to endure increasing regulatory, funding, geopolitical and net zero demands? How do we recognise and acknowledge numerous interrelated systems and embed these considerations into the way we design our planning processes? How do we ensure that academic and professional service functions are joined up and coherent across institutions? How do we support a studentship of digital natives with the tools available to us, and how do we make a case for new tools by first formulating the right questions which can lead to the right solutions?

These are some of the questions we aimed to explore over the two days and we very much enjoyed hearing your views, and learning more about how things are being managed at your institution. 

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