UHR Annual Conference 2017

The 2017 Conference took place in Newcastle, from 9th-12th May, with an exciting line up of plenary speakers, workshops, legal sessions, evening social activities as well as a fantastic Gala Dinner and the UHR Awards. 

With over 35 exhibitors and sponsors from across the sector on hand to offer useful advice and services throughout the event, and afterwards, there was lots of information and knowledge shared.

The UHR Conference 2017 boasted a wealth of speakers, including a fantastic closing plenary from Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. Take a look at the full programme to see all of the conference talks and speakers.


Highlights from UHR 2017

You can see tweets from the event at #UHR2017

All things to all people: what are universities for?

We have multiple stakeholders with multiple objectives and changing expectations.

  • How are we supporting our institutions to address this changing and sometimes paradoxical environment?
  • How do we embrace the opportunities and address the tensions between the strategic objectives of so many stakeholders, including our students?   
  • How can we support decision making and what are we looking to reward and recognise in achieving a range of organisational objectives? 
  • How do we ensure the staff voice can be heard?

The Conference was an opportunity to consider these challenging questions and the implications for people management and the HR function.



'The Importance of Strategic Human Resource Policy and Practice in the 21st Century University' by Professor Janet Beer

Professor Janet Beer, Vice Chancellor, University of Liverpool and UUK President Elect led a plenary on "The Importance of Strategic Human Resource Policy and Practice in the 21st Century University".

Professor Beer's session focussed on the challenges for the HE sector in responding to a multiplicity of expectations, ranging from the people management dimensions of the Teaching Excellence Framework and the proposed reforms to the Research Excellence Framework, to the role of Universities, as major employers, in engaging with our local communities. Her presentation also addressed issues of diverse leadership in higher education and HR's impact on the success of our organisations.

'Why Should Anyone be Led by You?' by Professor Gareth Jones 

Professor Gareth Jones, IE Business School, Madrid and Fellow of the Centre for Management Development at London Business School led the opening plenary at the UHR Conference 2017.

His talk explored HR's transformative role in increasing the leadership capacity of our organisations. Moving beyond any resigned acceptance in the HE sector that effective leadership and management in a knowledge economy can be problematic, the session focussed on two key issues: How can HR professionals in universities act as leaders? and How can we help others to act as leaders?

 Matthew Elliott, People Director at Virgin Money 

Matthew Elliott, People Director, Virgin Money led a plenary session at the UHR Conference 2017. The topic was purpose led organisational change and reflected on the work of Virgin Money, following the acquisition and integration of Northern Rock and lessons learnt.

Tanni Grey - Thompson in conversat6ion with Wendy Gibson

Tanni Grey-Thompson, one of Britain’s greatest Paralympic athletes and Chancellor of Northumbria University delivered the closing plenary of the UHR Conference 2017.

In dialogue with BBC journalist and presenter Wendy Gibson, she talked about the challenges she faced growing up with a disability, her career and achievements, her passion for learning and the benefits of higher education, and her role as a member of the House of Lords, including her engagement with Higher Education Bill.

 The UHR Awards for Excellence 

The UHR Awards for Excellence recognise outstanding and innovative projects, teams and individuals that have led transformational change in their organisations. The winners of the 2017 Awards were announced at the UHR conference Gala Dinner in Newcastle on 11 May 2017. Winners included the University of Surrey, University of Exeter, University of Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). Runners up included University of Bath, University of Birmingham, Aberystwyth University and University of Wolverhampton Congratulations to all the winners and runners up!


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