UHR Conference 2019


The 2019 UHR Conference and Exhibition took place in Manchester from 21 to 24 May.

As in previous years the conference was the place for HR professionals working in higher education to meet their peers and listen to a great mix of plenary speakers. Workshops, legal sessions, social time and an exhibition also featured in a packed programme rounded off by our Gala Dinner and UHR Awards for Excellence.

It goes without saying that Manchester is a great city whether you think of that greatness in terms of its sporting heritage, its amazing music and cultural impact, or its industry. The bee has long been known as a symbol of the city and was first incorporated into the Manchester city coat of arms in 1842. The industrious teamwork of the bee hive – well we know all about the work ethic in HR teams, and we’re proud to have adopted the bee as a symbol of UHR2019.

The conference was held at the Hilton, Manchester Deansgate, right in the heart of the city.


Conference theme - Transforming Culture: Challenging Times

The 2019 UHR Annual Conference focused on HR’s key role in shaping our organisational cultures in responding to current and anticipated sector changes including:  

  • The student funding regime and pressure on increased value for money;
  • Adapting our organisational cultures in response to increased regulation, including the Office for Students, and the changing expectations of other stakeholders;
  • Increasing globalisation, and the impact of Brexit;
  • Sustainable operational models and skill sets in response to digitalisation, the impact of social media and the growing influence of Artificial Intelligence;
  • Enhancing the receptivity and resilience of staff in embracing change, some of which may be unpopular, while ensuring we provide support to our own HR teams;
  • Maintaining trust and staff engagement, in an environment of rising levels of reported stress amongst staff and disaffection with the sector;
  • Ensuring our organisational cultures are truly diverse and inclusive in light of the issues raised by #MeTooWhy is my professor still not black? and Thriving at Work.

The Conference provided a forum for thought leadership and stimulating discussion around these and other issues affecting the culture and success of our organisations. Within the programme of an exciting line up of plenary speakers, workshops, legal sessions, evening social activities as well as a fantastic Gala Dinner and the UHR Awards, there were ample opportunities for networking with colleagues working in and with the HE sector.


Did you make it onto our Conference highlights reel? 



You can also now check out our Conference Flickr gallery.


Conference materials 

Delegates can now download conference materials including presenter slides (below), and watch our two afternoon speaker sessions in full. Thankyou so much to both Damian Hughes and Lucy Adams.

Damian Hughes Plenary

Lucy Adams Plenary


Presentation slides

The following presentations were made during the plenary, legal and workshop sessions. Please note that you will need your UHR member login to access these pdf documents.


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