Explore the programme

This year’s Wonkfest is packed with big debates over plenary sessions, in conversation fireside chats, workshops, as well as interactive dives into big issues with members of Team Wonkhe on Wonk Corner. Don’t worry about missing anything – sessions will be recorded and you’ll be able to revisit them as soon as they’ve finished.

N.B. the programme is subject to change.

09:00 AM - 10:30 AM
Building universities back better
It’s been more than a year of loss, challenge, and frustration…
It’s been more than a year of loss, challenge, and frustration – but there’s been camaraderie, learning, and success against the odds, too. A renewed attention to staff and student wellbeing, rapid digital transformation, and effective leadership, governance and student voice, are all in the mix as universities plan for what comes next.
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Speakers
Simone Buitendijk
Monisha Shah
Hillary Gyebi-Ababio
Debbie McVitty
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Bridging the digital divide
Technology has the potential to be a great leveller and engine…
Technology has the potential to be a great leveller and engine of opportunity, but too often it merely reproduces existing patterns of disadvantage. During Covid-19 the scale of the digital divide became clear, with many students (and some staff, too) reporting limitations in access to technology, space, and connectivity. As on- and offline learning and student life become increasingly blended, how can universities bridge the digital divide?
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Speakers
Clare Adams
Debbie McVitty
In partnership with
Care in the university community
Read the runes on social media, and you’ll notice that this…
Read the runes on social media, and you’ll notice that this is a generation of students that doesn’t feel noticed, served or cared about. It’s interesting because so much of the contemporary contested policy environment concerns “care” and universities’ duty of it towards students and staff. But as the line between the duties of the state and the sector blurs, what does it mean to care for students and staff appropriately and effectively? How much responsibility should we place on members of our communities to care for themselves? And where participation means harm, how much of that are universities causing, how much can universities control, and how much is merely chaos? 
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Speakers
Kate Tapper
Janice Kay
Jim Dickinson
More to be confirmed
In partnership with
Wonk Corner: Data disruption and its discontents
All policy is data – but what happens when the time…
All policy is data – but what happens when the time series and expectations that data brings are disrupted? Are figures from the three academic years affected by the pandemic meaningful in the context of longer trends? There are huge implications for all of our favourite regulatory measurements, and also TEF. Wonkhe’s associate editor is here to take everyone – from the mildly interested to the “data person” – through what all this might mean.
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Speakers
David Kernohan
12:30 PM - 14:00 PM
It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you flex it
We’re told the post-Covid world will be more flexible, whether that’s…
We’re told the post-Covid world will be more flexible, whether that’s in the shape of the education offer, in provision of learning and teaching, or in professional working cultures. But really, everyone wants a version of flexibility that works for their particular circumstances. Which bits of university activity are ripe for flexing, what should remain rigid – and who should get to decide? 
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Speakers
Philippa Hardman
More to be confirmed
In partnership with
The university of the high street
Building back higher starts with buildings. And infrastructure. Changing modes of…
Building back higher starts with buildings. And infrastructure. Changing modes of delivery, and new civic roles for universities, will require campuses of a different shape and capacities will have to shift to meet new priorities. University leaders are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their provision – in the year of COP26 it seems clearer than ever that what providers do matters for the planet, not just the campus and those who use it. And a struggling high street has seen universities step in as anchors to sustain once-vibrant cities – there’s a lot involved in turning a heritage building into a learning space.
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Speakers
Keri Facer
David Kernohan
More to be confirmed
Wonk Corner: Registrarism Live
Registrarism Live is back, in two dimensions and fully realised HD…
Registrarism Live is back, in two dimensions and fully realised HD (subject to specification and QAA review). Join Paul Greatrix for a tour of the weird, the wonderful, and the wacky in higher education, from regulation to rankings and everything in between.
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Speakers
Paul Greatrix
14:00 PM - 15:30 PM
Data as dialogue – building a more responsive and personalised student experience data ecosystem
During the Covid pandemic, if universities had waited for their NSS…
During the Covid pandemic, if universities had waited for their NSS results to find out how students were feeling, a lot more students would have left their courses. Learning analytics, pulse surveys and student voice systems came into their own as universities sound to understand their students’ experiences and rapidly respond to issues. Now, with the NSS under review, what is the value and purpose of different kinds of information about students’ experiences and opinions? How can live data be harnessed by university leaders, academics, students and students’ unions to enhance student experience in real time?
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Speakers
Richard Gascoigne
More to be confirmed
In partnership with
Creators, not consumers – preparing students for a complex world
Higher education students are more diverse than they have ever been….
Higher education students are more diverse than they have ever been. And they are graduating into a world that is rapidly changing, in which smart technologies are redefining society and the way we work. In order to respond universities need to develop curricula that balance academic knowledge, applied skills and mindsets that will enable graduates to thrive and prepare them to solve the challenges of the future. How is that curriculum being brought to life?
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Speakers
To be confirmed
In partnership with
Wonk Corner: Prediction is futile, forecasting is fun, and responding quickly matters
For anyone involved in the influencing, interpreting or delivery of higher…
For anyone involved in the influencing, interpreting or delivery of higher education policy, knowing what’s around the corner so it might be resisted, championed, finessed or fundamentally changed is crucial. In this session Wonkhe’s Jim Dickinson will dust off his crystal ball, dig out his fortune teller fish and try to guess what we might all be facing in higher education policy and politics in the year ahead – because forewarned is forearmed and all that. He’ll also share thoughts on the ways in which rapid reaction to an environment that’s changing faster than ever can become more effective and less “giant bunny in headlights.”
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Speakers
Jim Dickinson
15:30 PM - 17:00 PM
Creating a sense of belonging – transforming teaching and learning inclusion
Covid-19 has shifted the kaleidoscope in patterns of inclusion and exclusion,…
Covid-19 has shifted the kaleidoscope in patterns of inclusion and exclusion, with implications for how universities design learning and teaching environments. Examples of good practice abound for known issues such as awarding gaps, digital accessibility, and gendered patterns of participation – but how can initiatives link together to build a truly diverse and inclusive learning environment?
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Speakers
Florida Starks
More to be confirmed
In partnership with
Post-compulsory blues – widening opportunity and supporting student choice
Diversity of choice sounds like a luxury, but it’s possible to…
Diversity of choice sounds like a luxury, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing. Public data on universities competes with marketing literature, social media influencers, league tables, and rating sites – and alternatives to traditional university routes are notoriously poorly understood. As governments seek to expand the range of information, pathways, and options available – while potentially reforming admissions to reduce the available time for decision-making – we’re asking what diverse prospective students need to be able to answer the question “which option is right for me?”
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Speakers
Clare Marchant
Johnny Rich
More to be confirmed
In partnership with
Wonk Corner: Sensemaking review
Your chance to pause for breath and review the best of…
Your chance to pause for breath and review the best of what you’ve heard over the course of the day, and what it means for your role, and your organisation. 
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Speakers
Smita Jamdar
Mark Leach
Jim Dickinson
17:00 PM - 18:00 PM
The UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission
The UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission is founded on one deceptively…
The UPP Foundation Student Futures Commission is founded on one deceptively simple question: what do students need from their universities to be successful post-Covid? Rebuilding student community, preparing to enter the graduate workforce, adapting to a changed learning environment – getting these right could make a real difference not only to this generation of students, but to future cohorts as well. There’s loads of great thinking going on, so join in and share your thoughts. 
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Speakers
Mary Curnock Cook
Nikita Khandwala
Meg Price
Colin Bailey
In partnership with
19:00 PM - 20:00 PM
In conversation with….
Speaker to be announced…
Speaker to be announced
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Speakers
To be confirmed