Home » HELOA National Conference 2024 Programme

HELOA National Conference 2024 Programme

Wednesday 10 January

10:00 onwards Registration opens and Group networking

Arrive at a time from 10:00 onwards that works for you and your travel arrangements. On arrival you will join your group chair for registration as well as networking with your group members.

N.B. Bags can be left with the hotel to be collected after check in.
11:00Group catch-up

Travel allowing, please arrive by 11:00 to join your group chair for your conference meeting. If you can not arrive before 12:00 then you will be able to register at the conference help desk.

The buffet lunch will be open for you and your group to attend together.
13:15Conference opens

Laura Scanga, Director of Business Development, dataHE
14:15How does this all happen – the inner workings of HELOA and why your voice matters

An interactive session involving discussion around HELOA AGM and discussions with members of HELOA UKC 

N.B. Associate members will attend a separate session.
14:45Refreshment break and networking

N.B. HELOA Exec will be available to speak about AGM reports with members
15:15Workshop 1

Student Recruitment

HELOA Sponsor Lead Session – Creating Impactful Virtual Events
Freddie Knaggs, Jess Wells & Megan Soley – Unifrog

Join Unifrog for an interactive session where we’ll explore how universities can effectively leverage virtual events in the current recruitment landscape. Discover the value of crafting digital experiences that leave a lasting impact on prospective students, enriched by insights from the Unifrog community. We’ll explore strategies for maximising the impact of virtual events, illustrated through real-world examples and best practice from across the sector, whilst engaging in discussions about the ideal timing for virtual events, their execution, and efficient marketing techniques.

Student Recruitment and WP

Reaching More People Through Inclusive & Accessible Communication
Becki Morris, Lead Access Auditor and EDI Consultant

In our everyday lives we create moments that matter as we engage and communicate with those around us. But how often do we take time to think about how we are communicating, what we are saying and the impact of that on people we are engaging with?

In this session we will explore the language and body language of inclusive communication, the words we use and the power those words have in flavouring how we experience each moment. We will also look at how inclusive communication differs from accessible communication, and how both are needed if we are going to create places and spaces where people feel they belong, just as they are.


HELOA Partner-Led Session – The network advantage: is access to university inherited?
Tom Cockbain – Undergraduate Talent Lead & Tom Haywood-Pope – Chief Operating Officer, Zero Gravity

Your network is your biggest advantage, but what if the system was rigged? In this session, the Zero Gravity team will be looking at how a powerful network can help drive students’ access to university and careers and the importance of closing the opportunity gap for future generations. Talent is spread equally; opportunity is not. Every year, 50,000 students from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds achieve top GCSE’s, yet only a third make it to top-ranking universities. Even fewer enter an elite graduate career. A leading cause is the lack of an inherited network and the opportunities that come with it. This session will be looking at how the unseen network advantage is impacting social mobility, sharing some of the key findings from Zero Gravity’s community of 18,000 members, and how the organisation is scaling their tech platform alongside institutional partners to create the UK’s largest community of talent.


The Art of Connection
Ed Layt – Head of Consultancy, SMRS

Making meaningful connections with prospective students is essential for effective student recruitment. This session will provide research-backed insights to help you understand and engage this audience across the decision-making journey. We’ll explore findings from SMRS MediaMapper, a unique research project into prospective student media habits and consumption preferences to understand the best channels and strategies for connecting in different contexts.
Armed with these data-driven insights, you’ll be equipped to evolve outreach and marketing efforts in an increasingly competitive environment, and you’ll leave with a clearer understanding of how to align your approach to engage, recruit and support prospective students more effectively at each step of their journey.


Y I Don’t Give an F Anymore – A Personal Journey in Resilience
Keir Robinson – UG Recruitment Manager (UK), The University of Edinburgh

Everyone struggles, right? Everyone has challenges, the world sucks, right? Having a happier life doesn’t hinge on turning lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. In this workshop we will explore what resilience means and how I have used specific resources that have helped me overcome my challenges. As you may tell from the title, this workshop will have some swear words in it – it is unavoidable. If the F bomb offends you, then probably best to sit this one out… they drop frequently!

PG (and UG)

The Future of the Prospectus
Nathan Monk – Co-founder, Prospectus Plus

They’ve been part of the student recruitment cycle for what seems like forever. And despite the world going digital-first and some pockets of innovation, many prospectuses have stubbornly stayed the same. However, as the needs and expectations of students change, what does the future hold for prospectuses? Are they still relevant or is it time for change? Nathan showcases emerging trends and explores the history of the university prospectus and some future possibilities.

16:15Check in and down time

N.B. HELOA Exec will be available to speak about AGM reports with members
18:30Greek Buffet

Served in the main dining room, come down at a time that suits you before the evening entertainment.
20:00HELOA Annual Quiz

Optional night of quiz fun, prizes available!

Thursday 11 January

7:00 – 9:00Breakfast for full delegates

N.B. Full delegates can use the leisure facilities from 6:30
8:30Arrival and registration for day delegates
9:00Conference opens
9:15Best Practice Access, Outreach and Student Recruitment Award sponsored by UK University Search finalist presentations

N.B. Voting for awards must be complete by 15.45 via the online form. One vote per institution.
10:00 Workshop 2

Student Recruitment

Recruiting International Students in the UK
Felicity Lloyd – International Partnerships Manager, UCAS

Caroline Feeley, Deputy Head of International Recruitment (Undergraduate), University of Liverpool

This session will focus on creating a successful UK International recruitment strategy, how home and international recruitment teams can best work together and the unique problems that arise in this market.

Student Recruitment and WP

HELOA Sponsor-Led Session – Leveraging Technology to Enhance Student Ambassador and Casual Worker Programs
Jacob Jones – Developer/Customer Support & Jitandra Rav – CEO and Founder, Dashboard Technology

This interactive workshop delves into the pivotal role of technology in maximising the effectiveness of student ambassadors and casual workers, resulting in enhanced staff work satisfaction, recruitment success, and increased engagement. Attendees will discuss key factors to managing a student ambassador programme, common pitfalls and how to meet compliance requirements and how technology improve the process.


Supporting our Care Experienced Students
Deborah Duncan – Senior Widening Access Support Officer & Al Blackshaw – Widening Access Manager, University of Strathclyde

This session will provide an overview of the University of Strathclyde suite of support for care experienced students from application to graduation.
Participants will hear about the range of support in place for care experienced applicants from initial contact to support during their studies and how we work collaboratively with internal and external colleagues to create a network to support their journey. This interactive session will give delegates the opportunity to ask questions, share good practice and ideas with colleagues.


HELOA Partner-Led Session – What are the key factors influencing students’ decision making?
Ingrid Daujoti – Account Director & Jon Montgomerie – Associate Head of Client Success,  IDP Connect

Join us in this engaging session as we present valuable insights into student sentiment from our longitudinal UCAS deadline survey alongside real-time behaviour data drawn from the busiest UG research sites, Whatuni and Complete University Guide.

Through our pre-UCAS deadline applicant survey, we have collected a wealth of data that sheds light on student preferences, motivations, hurdles and expectations as they navigate their university choices. By examining the correlation between student sentiment and real-time market demand, we aim to reveal the key factors influencing decision making and provide actionable insight to effectively attract and support prospective students through the applicant process.

Questions we will help to answer include:

What are the most important factors when choosing a university and how is that changing?
Where are the gaps in their understanding and what can you do to help plug those gaps?
How are students feeling about the Cost-of-Living Crisis, and how are these feelings influencing their decision making?
Are students looking to stay closer to home and how does that impact the need for student accommodation?
How can you navigate the change in regional demand to ensure successful recruitment?
What subjects are we seeing growth in demand and where are we seeing decline? What does that mean for your university recruitment?


Making Stress Your Friend
Chris Burton – Executive Consultant and Facilitator, Charlotte Wiseman

Managing stress proactively not only makes us more physically healthy but empowers us to make effective decisions, think more creatively, and be more resilient. Ineffective stress management can lead to a state of anxiety, low productivity and chronic health issues.

This practical and interactive workshop will explore stress and resilience, inviting participants to consider the potential benefits of stress and sharing the science of Eustress (healthy stress). We will then explore practical skills to regulate the stress response when we are feeling overwhelmed and to boost motivation when we need a little boost. These skills are crucial to expand our resilience zone, making stress performance & health-enhancing so we can all be more adaptable, productive, and healthier.

This session will include:

Understanding the truth about stress: The good, the bad and the angry
Accepting and taking ownership for our spheres of control
Top tips to reduce our stress response when the pressure is on
Steps to overcome procrastination and find motivation when energy is low
This 55-minute workshop includes a handout of workshop activities and supporting resources for life.


HELOA Strategic Partner-Led Session – Postgraduate Study in 2024 – What Can We Really Expect?
Mark Bennett – Director – Audience & Editorial, FindAUniversity

Postgraduate enrolments have been on a roller-coaster over the past few cycles, with the coronavirus pandemic and the graduate route boosting domestic and international recruitment respectively… before the cost of living crisis and changes to student visas had the opposite effect. As a result, understanding and supporting prospective Masters and PhD students has never been important, both for maintaining internationalization and widening participation and for supporting the vital specialisms and research areas that postgraduate programmes and skills sustain. Predicting exactly what’s coming next is difficult, but the unparalleled scale of FindAUniversity’s audience data gets us closer than most. And our decades of experience working with the PG sector (including as a HELOA partner) means we understand the problems institutions are trying to solve.

Presented by our expert insights team, this session will offer an honest exploration of who prospective postgraduates are, what they’re looking to do and, crucially, how universities can help them succeed.
11:00Refreshment break 

With opportunity to liaise with HELOA Partners, sponsors and visit Best Practice Awards showcases
11:30 Workshop 3

Student Recruitment

T levels: Where Are We and How Are We Doing
Andy Cotterill – Head of Global Undergraduate Student Recruitment and Access, Keele University

and others TBC

Two cohorts of T level students have now completed their qualifications and moved onto work or further study, so how are we doing as a sector? This session, combining speakers from the Association of Colleges, Keele University and teachers leading on T level delivery in England, will look at progression routes for T level learners, their barriers to success and the brilliant skills they are developing on the courses. Most importantly, you’ll leave with a range of practical tools that you can use to bring your institution forward on T levels and create exciting pathways for our young people.

Student Recruitment and WP

HELOA Partner-Led Session – Money Matters 101: Preparing Students for University’s Financial Challenge
Tom Allingham – Communications Director, Save the Student

We’ll be looking at the financial challenges students face, including findings from our National Student Money and Accommodation Surveys. Using this insight, we’ll explore how to help students get to grips with money as they apply and, later, start university.


Leveraging Data to Enhance Widening Participation Strategies
Vicki Spink – Head of HeppSY & Helen Zhu – Data and Evaluation Manager HeppSY, Sheffield Hallam University

Uni Connect partnerships have traditionally been asked to work with a national evaluator, previously CFE, to support large scale and longitudinal evaluation of the programme. In HeppSY we have ran this survey alongside our own local partnership learner survey to dive deeper into the perspectives of our learners, to support strategic decision making on the types of activities we have delivered and assess the impact of our interventions. Since the national survey was no longer a programme requirement we have maintained our local survey, with our most recent survey yielding almost 5000 responses, despite the target cohort now only covering 4 year groups.
This year we have been able to use the survey to inform our decision making on where we direct activity, whether this be traditional targeted outreach activities or strategic outreach and attainment raising outreach. Within this session, we will discuss what we learnt from our survey, how this has shaped our decision making and what we plan to deliver in light of our findings. We will also cover how we will be adapting our survey to support further data informed delivery and practice.


HELOA Sponsor-Led Session – 2023: The Future Student Odyssey
Jonny Harper – Chief Technology Officer (CTO) & Victoria Littler – Account Director, Revolution Viewing 

A winning content strategy is one which gives your audience exactly what they’re looking for when they are looking for it – we all know this, it’s not a secret. But how do you know if you’ve got one? Your audience are prospective students. Again, not a secret. But it’s the ‘when’ part of this that becomes a bit more interesting. Can you genuinely say that you know when your audience is looking for what they need?

Just like Stanley Kubrick did with his groundbreaking film ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, let us take you on a journey to give you an unprecedented exploration into when students are engaging with online content and a futuristic, accurate detailing of what they are looking at in particular. We will lift the lid on how students are engaging online and how this insight can be used to improve the performance of university websites, properly and effectively measure the performance of your content, create personalised content journeys and drive an increase in conversions.


Detailing the power of your website content and how to use it differently at every single stage of the student recruitment process through understanding user behaviour.

Using personalised content to create and continue a data-informed dialogue, away from your website and into further comms.

Personalisation in action – practical tips to how you can use engagement data to show applicants that you truly get them and yours is a university to which they can belong.


The Dragon, the Thistle and the Shamrock
Llinos Angharad Williams and Calum Fraser, HELOA Wales and Scotland Group Chairs and Niamh Gallagher, HELOA NW&NI VC Membership & Communication.

Join us for this interactive session to learn about the qualifications and HE systems in Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland as well as an insight into the student finance differences. Myths will be busted, prizes to be won, no Welsh nor Gaelic/Gaeilge required!’


Widening Access to Postgraduate Research: Laying the Groundwork
Liam Carson – PGR Diversity Lead Officer, University of Leeds

Diversity in the research system drives impact and innovation, but many of the access and participation gaps observed among the UK undergraduate population persist to one of its key pipelines: postgraduate research (PGR). A number of sector-leading universities have begun to explore what works when it comes to addressing these gaps, from targeted outreach to contextual recruitment. Drawing on the whole-institution approach taken by the University of Leeds, this interactive session is designed to offer practical advice and guidance to colleagues interested in extending access and participation work to PGR at their own institutions, with a focus on laying a solid groundwork for success.

12:40Group A Networking what works for you sessions
Group B business expo and lunch 

N.B. Delegates will be split into group A or Group B

13:40Group B Networking what works for you sessions
Group A business expo and lunch 

N.B. Delegates will be split into group A or Group B
14:45Workshop 4

Student Recruitment

HELOA Strategic Partner-Led Session – Converting Student Prospects: How to Connect from Enquiry to Enrolment
Barbara Bradshaw – Senior Market Research Consultant, Paul Cernicharo-Terol – Sales Director & Jasmine Gwalter – Community Manager, The Student Room

This session will focus on conversion activity from the perspective of enquiry to applicant, applicant to enrolment. We will be sharing student survey data from TSR Insight looking at what first year undergraduates said they found most valuable on their decision making journey into HE as well as sharing data from current 2024 applicants on what they need from you right now and in the coming months.

Student Recruitment and WP

Teacher and Careers Advisor Panel

Join our panel of teachers and careers advisors to be able to ask questions and learn from their insights.


Connection Counts
Hannah Simnett – CEO & Founder, Cherished

Hannah Simnett is an award-winning leader, speaker and influencer. Hannah founded Cherished UK at the age of just 18 years old, in response to her own personal experiences and seeing the attachment needs of students not being met.Hannah has trained more than 5000 professionals on the front lines of our community. This includes police officers, children’s charities, social and support workers and educators. She believes connection, kindness and empathy are the attributes that every educator needs to get the best results with children and young people. Tips on how this can be achieved will be presented during this event. Hannah brings passion, creativity and experience to help you navigate tricky situations you may encounter with the young people you are working with. The workshops Hannah will deliver are creative, hands-on, honest and real, ensuring you feel empowered, encouraged and equipped for the sessions you deliver in the future.


HELOA Sponsor-Led Session – Creating Impact Throughout the Student Journey. Adding Value and Tackling Recent Challenges.
Jonny Urquhart – Head of Customer Success, Chris Gibson – UK Sales Manager, Gecko & Jonathan Atkinson-White – Hybrid Delivery Manager – Student Recruitment & Events, University of Liverpool

Gecko and University of Liverpool are going to identify trends in comms, events, crm and student engagement. The session can focus on common challenges we have found in 2023 and what solutions came to tackle them, looking ahead at what types of activities and engagement opportunities are ahead of Higher Education professionals and facilitating a discussion on where our attendees can influence the discussion and add value. It’ll be ideal for those new to marketing/events roles and for those who have some recruitment experience with varying responsibilities.


Regional Engagement 
Emma Jubbs – Director of Marketing and Recruitment, University of Lincoln; Curtis Reid – London Stakeholder Manager, University of Lincoln; Jeff Chilton – Student Recruitment Officer: Central England, Aberystwyth University; Catherine O’Mahony – School and College Engagement Officer (London), University of Exeter

How does an outreach team who is regionally based make it work for a university? Discussion and tips of the pros and cons of this way of working.


Access Postgrad – PGT Home Widening Participation
Alice Brereton -Postgraduate Recruitment Manager, University of Bristol

The case study ‘Access Postgrad’, for progressing undergraduate students, will initiate a discussion on the emerging area of PGT widening participation. During this interactive session we’ll consider how the scheme has developed over the last six years, challenges encountered, ambitions for the future and practical tips for colleagues looking to introduce a widening participation scheme.
16:00Wellness Hour – Sponsored by RAD Brothers
Full delegates can use the leisure facilities until 21:00
19:00Awards and Gala Dinner – Awards Night Eleganza Extravaganza 

The evening starts with a drinks reception sponsored by Unifrog from 18.30, doors open at 19:00. We ask that all delegates are seated by 19:20 for the awards presentation to start. The awards and gala dinner will be followed by a disco.

Friday 12 January

7:00 – 9:00Breakfast opens for full delegates

N.B. Full delegates can also use the leisure facilities from 7am
9:00Arrival and registration for day delegates
By 9:15Check out for delegates

N.B. Bags can be left with the Hotel until conference close
9:30Workshop 5

Student Recruitment

HELOA Strategic Partner-Led Session – UCAS Events – The Student Perspective
Aimee Okafor – Head of Events & David Penney – Director of Marketing, UCAS

Discover how 13-17 year olds are thinking, behaving and planning for their future choices and listen to the views and honest opinions of our panel of school and college students who have attended a UCAS event. They will talk about how they researched their future choices and their experiences so far. Get valuable first-hand insight from your audience and hear how UCAS have incorporated this into their 2024 event development.

Student Recruitment and WP

How to Build a Widening Access Curriculum
Jon Coe – Access Development Manager (Future Students) & Megan Rostern-Thomson – Senior Access Development Officer, University of Sheffield 

Access Service at Sheffield has just finished our ‘Access Development Project. Having utilised Theory of Change methodology in our programme and evaluation design, we have created a service delivery model that covers students from primary age through to first term of undergraduate study, with a local focus in early years, expanding to local and national interventions from post-16 onwards. This session should give you the tools needed to to build a skillsbased, evidence led widening access curriculum.


Student Advisory Panels
Joanne McKenna – Widening Participation Officer, Edge Hill University

This session will cover the practical aspects of how we set up our Student Advisory Panels, alongside discussions around how they have guided University events, policy and projects, boosted diversity and inclusion, what we have learnt and challenges we have faced.


Positive & Purposeful Disruption with AI
Ben Whitaker – Educational Consultant, Round Peg Square Holes Ltd

This session will be a hands-on session looking at ways that AI tools can help educators and students to save time, embrace emerging technologies that can help us succeed and do this in an authentic and collaborative way. We will look at ChatGPT particularly, as well as a number of other tools available in this space.


Making Sense of Policy
David Kernohan – Deputy Editor, Wonkhe

Higher education policy – what is it, where does it come from, and what does it mean for you?


Postgraduate Open Days: Can They Work Alongside UG?
Katie Marshall-Gamston – Student Recruitment Manager & Claire Brown – Interim Head of UK Student Recruitment and Outreach, Cardiff Metropolitan University

This session will look at how we have trialled different Postgraduate Open Day methods and what is effective in the recruitment of postgraduate students. The session will include round table discussions around what works at other institutions to see if there is a ‘one size fits all’ for PG open days.

10:30Refreshment break
10:50Workshop 6

Student Recruitment

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Degree Apprenticeships
Karen Hinton – Associate Director Marketing, University of Suffolk & Emma Chu – Recruitment Officer (Apprenticeships), Manchester Metropolitan University

This session will outline what Degree Apprenticeships are, and how prospective students find and apply for them. However, while everyone might agree that Degree Apprenticeships are a good opportunity, the session will explore what is different about studying for Degree Apprenticeships compared to traditional study – both the positives and negatives. This session is aimed at Recruitment and Outreach Officers who would like to understand Degree Apprenticeships more, and aims to provide some key points to support you in delivering presentations or IAG about them.

Student Recruitment and WP

HELOA Partner-Led Session – A Decade of UniTasterDays Insights – Five Tips for Building Relationships with Schools and Colleges
Jon Cheek – Director and Founder, UniTasterDays

Reflecting on over ten years of experience running UniTasterDays, Founder Jon Cheek will share key findings from the journey. These insights are centred around tips for building relationships with schools and colleges and providing fantastic and mutually beneficial university guidance content and resources.

This interactive session will include research findings and reflections, tips for showcasing your university guidance opportunities, along with advice for those considering featuring (or running) a podcast. You’ll also learn how to benefit from platforms like LinkedIn and explore new engagement opportunities on UniTasterDays.


Innovation in Literacy Outreach: Oral Storytelling in West London

Jordan Campbell, Outreach Officer, University of West London

Our extremely popular storytelling programmes develop students’ literacy and oracy skills and builds their confidence in an engaging and creative way. Since beginning last November, we have delivered long-term programmes (6 to 10 weeks) to over 200 students aged 8 – 18 and have delivered one-off workshops to over 1200 students. The feedback has been outstanding, and demand has grown rapidly. As a result, we are already fully booked for the entire next academic year split equally between primary schools, secondary schools, and pupil referral units. Come and learn from a professional storyteller and outreach practitioner about what we do and why our storytelling programmes are so popular with students and teachers.


HELOA Sponsor-Led Session – Scaling the Power of Communities Across the Student Journey
Emma Froud – Director of Business Development & Ian Pierson – Customer Success Lead, Unibuddy; Andy Jackson – Recruitment Events Manager, University of South Wales

In this workshop, we’ll discuss the power of building online virtual communities alongside physical events to support the student application and enrollment journey. We’ll look at how a community can give students a truly personalized experience at every step of the way, and see how this approach has thrived in action at the University of South Wales.


Working with Partners: We Have An MoU, Now What?
Moyra Throssell – Quality Manager (Partnerships), London Metropolitan University

This session will explore the language of UK partnerships; we are commonly asked by Schools and Colleges for a range of agreements, including progression agreements, service level agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, strategic partnerships, articulation agreements amongst others. The workshop aims to explain what each of these are, the purpose of them, what use they have and how they can be an effective tool in UK recruitment.


Using Employers in Postgraduate Recruitment
Steven Joesbury – Student Recruitment Officer, The University of Law

Employers are one of the key stakeholders that universities work with, and getting their buy-in to events and recruitment activity is crucial, as if prospective students feel our links with employers are strong, then this can be a real driver for their applications as they feel their prospects will therefore be strong. Join The University of Law, a specialist university, as they discuss how they have maximised their relationships with law firms and businesses and used them regularly in their recruitment activities, and how this helps prospective students to consider ULaw as one of their top choices for postgraduate study.

11:50Refreshment break

Kim Eccleston – Head of Strategy and Reform, UCAS

13.00Conference close
13.30Networking Lunch


Grab & Go Sandwich Available