The UK’s education and technology not-for-profit, @Jisc, has launched the new HE Leaders podcasts, with what the organisation’s managing director of higher education (HE), Jonathan Baldwin, describes as a “lively and thought-provoking discussion around university learning, teaching and assessment in the post-COVID world”.  

The HE Leaders’ Podcast series will explore the key themes of Jisc’s new three-year strategy, Powering UK higher education

In this podcast, Jon Baldwin, managing director for HE at Jisc, is joined by Alec Cameron, vice chancellor at Aston University, Chris Husbands, vice chancellor of Sheffield Hallam, Anne Carlisle, vice chancellor at Falmouth, and Paul Feldman, Jisc’s chief executive, to reimagine learning and teaching and assessment and discuss Jisc’s new powering UK higher education strategy.

Looking positively towards a technology-enabled future, Alec Cameron, vice chancellor at Aston University, says that while the pandemic has brought challenge and tragedy, 

“there are silver linings – and a silver lining for the universities sector has been both the acceleration [of] our shift to digital and online learning, and a shift in the university sector’s reputation for being slow to move and rigid in our working practices. We’ve actually proved to be very agile.”

Reflecting on the broader evolution of the university experience, Anne Carlisle - vice chancellor at Falmouth - comments: 

“Universities’ cultures are much, much more than simply the teaching. We have to strive to create a sense of community and culture online, which is different from the way we might do it on campus. We’re embracing that now as a problem that we’ll work with other institutions to think about, working to build the hybrid experiences of the future, and ensuring that students leave with the right skills, and a strong sense of having been [part of] a social community.” 

Baldwin concludes: “This podcast develops themes from Jisc’s new education strategy and provides valuable food for thought for the sector”. 

The second HE Leaders Podcast will be available in May, bringing a different panel of experts together to discuss the changing student experience. 

HE Leaders Podcast – Episode 1 - Audio Transcript 

Jonathan Baldwin

Hello everyone, thank you for joining us welcome to this higher education leaders podcast. I'm Jon Baldwin, managing director for higher education. Nice to welcome you.

You may be aware, but we've recently launched our new higher education strategy, Powering UK Higher Education.

And in the process of developing it, I had the privilege of speaking with a number of vice chancellors at very different shades of university and it struck me how fortunate, I was to be in receipt of all that valuable insight and, therefore, be benefiting from such a wealth of experience and expertise, and that's where the idea for this four part podcast series originated.

Each episode I'll be talking with leaders in HE about a different theme and what it means for them now and with some speculation into the future.

Today we're going to be focusing on approaches to, and experiences of, reimagining learning teaching and assessment I'm joined by Anne Carlisle vice chancellor at Falmouth university, Alec Cameron, the vice chancellor at Aston University, Chris Husband's the vice chancellor at Sheffield Hallam University, and by the Jisc chief executive officer Paul Feldman. You're all very welcome, thank you for giving up some time and.

Can I welcome you all formally and perhaps ask you all, by way of introduction to perhaps pithily outline a key learning point or two from the madness that wolf 2020 start with you, I like that.

Alec Cameron

Good, thanks Jon. Look, I'm going to start with a very positive sense I appreciate that for everyone covid has been very challenging in some cases, a tragic event. But I think there are silver linings and silver lining for the university sector has been both the acceleration that covid has provided to shift to digital and online learning and, associated with that to quite frank, a shift in the university sector’s reputation for being, I think it's fair to say, a sector which was probably identified as being slow to move and rigid in our practices and we've actually seen a sector that proved to be very agile and was able to see great flexibility in terms of how staff responded and engaged with their work. So we saw both a shift in terms of how we delivered education, but I think actually we probably disabused a reputation the sector had for being rigid and inflexible and actually saw in some sense, even to the surprise institutions and they start of how agile and nimble we could be.

Jonathan Baldwin

Yeah thanks Alec, I think a very powerful observation about agility and we'll come back to that I’m sure. Ann, welcome anything to build over there is certainly plenty to build on, but anything to add to that?

Anne Carlisle

Yes, very much builds on what Alex said, I mean I sort of liken it to like almost a big bang which sort of accelerated us all towards digital online blended delivery. I mean what was helpful as if in some way an institution had already committed to that, which we have not 2030 strategy, but I mean I just think covid changed time, it's like being an innovation time tunnel traveling faster and faster and faster. And I mean I often said to my staff 2030 has come early it's come in 2020.

But what I think everybody realised, is there was no going back it was kind of like we traversed into another universe that we all need to embrace and the positive that I really have from is, I think it really licensed creativity, risk taking, innovation, some of it would work, some of it wouldn't work, but the conditions just called for those kind of actions so as Alec said, it really accelerated things we all knew would good to do, but really were necessary today.

Jonathan Baldwin

Thank you, I love the idea that 2030 came early and I like that phrase licensed creativity and risk taking, again I think those are themes, to which will return. Chris, Chris husband's very welcome sir.

Chris Husbands

Thanks Jon. As is going to become apparent to your listeners, we haven't prepared this in advance, and so my starting point will be pretty similar to Alec and Anne’s, I think that means that you can get things done very quickly. You can get things done very quickly if you are, if you have to do, and if you can put people together in very, very focused cross functional teams, so one of the key learning bits for me is how we bake-in agility to the future world, and I think that's actually probably a bit more difficult than it sounds, and certainly my conversations with people in other sectors have this horrible fear that, a partner, and one of the big accountancy firms said to me the moment that somebody puts their mug back onto a desk you lost the argument for agile working, and I think there's a there's a lot of truth in that so baking this in is really important. The other thing I think it's really important to say and I would have said, a year ago that we knew our students pretty well and it turns out that we have to get to know them an awful lot better. Understanding a lot better about the material circumstances under which they were studying, the technological affordances they had, that enabled them to engage and studying and we've learned a lot lot more of a very diverse student cohort in the last year and the way that we take that forward is going to be incredibly important for us.

Jonathan Baldwin

Yeah, good point Chris that. Thank you, and you can never know your students well enough, perhaps. Paul Feldman, Jisc CEO, I mean Jisc was thrust into a limelight in many ways, through the pandemic and obviously the Learning and Teaching Reimagined project itself spoke to you know well over 1,000 actors in the in the higher education play. Paul, what's been your key takeaway takeaways from 2020?

Paul Feldman

So, building on what colleagues have said, I think we were amazed and extremely pleased to see the sector accelerate so much, and we had a vision for 2035 large amounts of which have appeared.

In in the past year and I’m sure we'll come back to some of that as well, but, ultimately, I think the real value that we've achieved in the past year is we've got a really good understanding of what university level teaching should be like. What lecturers do and don’t want to using technology, but also students, what do students really want out of this. We've learned so much in the past year and I think, ensuring that we capture that and as we build the visions going forward, ensure that we do play to what students really wanted in their learning and how they wants to achieve it, and I think we'd have taken real value out of the past year.

Jonathan Baldwin

Paul thank you. Maybe try and pick up a theme that's permeated all four contributions, licensed creativity risk taking, dispel that sense of you know slowness and rigidity, bringing the knowledge of students to increased and enhanced levels, how do we ensure, how do universities ensure that the quality of what has emerged and is now normal in the delivery of learning is maintained and enhanced, you know, there was a forgiveness, perhaps in the early stages of the pandemic when it was very much an emergency and everyone could see that, now it isn't. So how in the learning teaching and assessment process can we, should we assure that quality? Perhaps I’ll sttart with you, Chris.

Chris Husbands

I think that's a really good question, I said to somebody last week, that over the last year, I thought that absolutely everybody in every institution has worked incredibly hard with the best of intentions and the truth is that none of us really know whether we've done it well or badly. All of the data points that we might have used previously and just the window I think that's quite helpful in one respect, but it's got to come back in. The root of this has got to be listening hard to your students and multiple feedback loops; understanding the way they want to study. So our data tells us and I don't think we're particularly unusual in this that we've got a population of students who really thrived on the offer that we were required to put in. We've got another population of students who have really, really missed the campus experience. And how you approach that in the future, I think is a really challenging question.

And because there's an absolute danger that, in attempting to go for a safe middle you lose the edgy-ness, you lose the creativity, which you need in order to carry things forward. So the more ways in which you can engage your students, the more ways in which you could talk to them about the direction of travel, take them with you, seems to me to be absolutely critical to driving quality. And no shortcuts on that I suspect.

Jonathan Baldwin

Alec, anything to add.

Alec Cameron

Look once again, I’m generally optimistic, because I think that quality assurance is something that universities have a track record and doing very well, so we have a lot of experience. We have good processes, we have quality assurance committees and so forth, so we have an infrastructure built up around quality assurance. As Chris and others have identified, you know in some sense this is different for us it's a different mode of delivery, maybe we don't know what quality looks like fully yet. I'd say there's two dimensions to this. There's the bit that Chris identified which in some sense is student satisfaction what's the students… How are they receiving quality and how are they judging quality and that's based very much on the student experience at the time.

The other one, of course, in education is always in the medium to longer term, which is well, what are the outcomes look like, so we can see at the moment what's how students are receiving the education. You know, we've yet to see in some sense what the outcomes are in terms of how employers received students and how they progress with their careers and whether in some sense there's any you know I suppose I’d say whether there is any quality gap that will be evident in the outcomes for students, rather than their responsiveness at the moment. But I agree with Chris we you know, we need to be, we need to be talking students and listening to them, but I suppose my view is in the not too distant future, we also need to be talking to employers and listening to employers about what their experience with these new students is.

Jonathan Baldwin

Yeah I think that's right. Staying with the theme but also maybe developing it slightly, everywhere, I go, and I don't go anywhere, but when I talk with you know colleagues in universities that there are pockets of excellence everywhere, you know. Academics, departments, schools doing really interesting things, but then there are others who are having to be gently led to do things in different ways, so in that quality arena, how do we make sure that we get consistency across the range of activity in each institution? It’s a tough question, I know, any comments on that Anne?

Anne Carlisle

The first thing is to understand the problem and the problem became “problem-ified” once we all had to move everything online, and I mean I’ve often said this, the problem then just wasn't about you know, distributing content and ensuring students could engage effectively, it was actually also did we have all the tools needed to create really good content that we could communicate well, and communication skills are actually a different set of skills from say technology skills, so the problem became bigger. And I think for some universities that, then you know meant a greater level of support was needed to communicate to a very, very sophisticated user who's used to high quality digital content being given for free through all kinds of modes of social media and they have an expectation that this is what they would receive and, in some cases that was possible. Because some staff had those skills and, in some cases, some staff learned very quickly and then.

The best case is the student helped to co-create that and to communicate about what was working on what they as a user, as opposed to a viewer, which I think sometimes think students can be viewers and the traditional modes of education, worked best for them - sort of like ongoing open innovation. But everybody said the right things that it's asking for feedback, it's metrics it's you, you know what the user is doing, are they actually engaging. All those you know data to understand, but basically the problems became much greater after lockdown for all of us.

Jonathan Baldwin

Very interesting. Paul, I'm going to keep on this theme just for a little bit longer but we're also pick up a comment, Chris slightly through a about the on campus experience as well and just try and take us into a minute or two on the blend between blended delivery and on campus presence and reason I’m saying this as I come to you Paul is just because, one, we're interested in the idea of the smart intelligent campus and that's again gained greater resonance through the pandemic but I’m also minded of some of the audience participation surveys we did through learning teaching reimagined where students actually were embracing the online and blended learning environment they thought it was iterative, clear, flexible, accessible, but on the downside, they worried about a lack of sociability, potential isolation, loneliness, difficulties in communicating and maintaining motivation. So maybe a few general words Paul around in this quality space around the role of the campus as well as the role of online.

Paul Feldman

So I’m building on some of the comments as well, I think we've got to stand back a bit we don't have experience of what good really looks like I mean our lecturers and our students have done a fantastic job in the past year, but no one's experienced this sort of environment. All of our lecturers, like all of us, sat through a campus experience, our students have sat through an in-person school experience so we've got a lot of learning to do around how to really make this work anyway.

Now if you step back, coming back to the second part of your question there Jon, we step back and look at the Jisc vision, the Jisc vision is very much, and very much came out in learning teaching reimagined, around quite a shift in the way that teaching happens so much more around students self-directed learning rather than teaching to pick up the knowledge and the campus experience much more around putting that into practice for the lectures to really be stretching the students, thinking to really be building the critical thinking, the soft skills getting students working together, like they will in the world of work. So, we completely believe the campus experience is what students want and where actually the best educational experience will happen, but it's about it's about really rethinking about how that works, and also helping our lecturers get all the skills they need to really make it work because it's not how we've trained them, it's not where their experience is so stepping back and actually sort of really understanding what we need to do to give students, the knowledge and then how we how we help them experience that knowledge, and how we use the tools and the campus to really make that work.

And then also, potential employers, because trying to get that tripartite student-lecturer-employer to really make this work, particularly in our vocational skills, is where we believe the future is.

Jonathan Baldwin

Thanks Paul. Any comments on that? I mean you know you will run different kinds of campuses, Chris I think you're…

Chris Husbands

Well, a couple of things, my background is in education research, was some really interesting and very influential finding dug out in Morty’s studies of school teachers in the 1970s, where he asked what's the biggest influence on the way in which adults teach? And it's not their training, it's not their colleagues, the biggest influence on the way people teach is the way they were taught. And that is a real nut, it’s a real challenge in this and you've gotten the tension, I think, between the creativity in crisis that Anne has described, which I absolutely see against this powerful socialization that which the entire education workforce is locked into. So there's an educationist who is enormously influential in this country and thus on my early career Lawrence Stenhouse was professor of education at University of East Anglia. And, and he has a famous line which is frequently quoted, which is no curriculum development without teacher development, and it seems to me that there is no route through to a different vision of teaching and learning. There is no root through to embedding the learning that we have for this enforced creativity of the last year without significant development of the academic workforce. So no curriculum development without teacher development was the Stenhouse aphorism and I think that the absolute focus is how do we carry our staff with us into a position where they are more confident about exploring? And they will look different, they will look different in social workers, compared to fine art, they look different in sociology as compared to computer science they look different in nursing as compared to humanities. But developing the workforce to be confident in the way they articulate the relationship between the physical and the digital seems to me to be the real game for the next four five years.

Anne Carlisle

Yes, totally agree and Falmouth, of course, is largely creative subjects, in fact, all our students fall under the definition of practical or practice based student, so we have our students back now, but of course they’re in the labs and the studios and the workshops, but they're still having lectures through online means because of social distancing and we are now having to negotiate something which I think will be kind of future, which is delivering across hybrid models, but for our students of course it's very, very important to be able to experience things in terms of the skills they acquire in the television studio or they’re in a sort of you know, a product design studio. And it's quite hard to actually manage that balance and maintain the thing which has been said that is right at the heart of universities, is the cultures. And universities cultures are much, much more than simply the teaching they get, and we have to strive to create the same sense of community and culture in those online versions, which is different than the way we met do it on campus. And we're therefore just embracing that now as a problem that we're going to have to work with other institutions to really think about and research about how we build these campuses, hybrid experiences of the future and ensuring students leave with the right skills and strong sense of having been you know, a social community as well.

Jonathan Baldwin

I want to come back to some of that in a second, but Alec, I’m always a big fan of the Aston campus, to be honest, probably because you can walk to it from New Street station, and not quite as close as yours, Chris in Sheffield, but you know you've got that sort of urban university really, you know, which I really quite like you know in Aston, that big forbidding building, but when you get in it that admin building feels quite welcoming actually. You must have some thoughts on this, especially with your sort of technological and sort of engineering backgrounds in Aston as well.

Alec Cameron

So Jon, once again I think the future is blended right I don't believe that for most people, the future is online or the future is on campus I think the future is blended and I think we need to you know, and it's going to different by institution, but we need to work out one of the bits that the campus is best suited to delivering and which of the pieces that online is best suited to delivering. And I think we need to also recognize, and this has been the feedback that we've had from surveys including from Jisc over the period of the pandemic, is that students, generally speaking, are reporting a reasonable level of satisfaction with it, the quality of the educational delivery. But they are feeling a real sense of loss with regard to the student experience. And I do think that the student experience is very much tied in with the campus experience, so this is the on campus piece but I actually think going back to what we were talking about a moment ago, in terms of high quality educational delivery and consistency of high quality educational delivery, I would argue that online, in some sense is more reliable in terms of making sure that we've got very well curated materials and consistently delivered and so forth. So if I think of the dimensions of you know, the student experience, you know there's an element which is around content delivery, which, as I said, I think lends itself naturally to online, and Anne referred to Falmouth at the moment, to the fact that lectures are still happening online, although the practice, the experiential, the interactive pieces, the social pieces happening in person. And I think that's what we are anticipating moving to as we come out of covid is, you know, being able to provide high level educational quality, repeatable, good quality, consistent, leveraging and utilizing technology and online, but then for both the interactive pieces, the social people pieces, the engagement pieces, but also the extracurricular stuff which build a student experience being part of the campus experience. So it is genuinely blended learning and thinking hard for each institution and the programmes and their students what's the right mix what's the right balance.

Jonathan Baldwin

Thanks Alec. Chris I know you want to come back in. We've got 5-10 minutes left, and I want also shift us to have a few minutes thinking about personalized and adaptive learning and Anne I think you sort of hinted it, more than hinted at, the co-creation agenda, so if I want to edge us that way but Chris please come back in…

Chris Husbands

OK thanks Jon, I’ll be very brief on this. So I agree with what Alec has said, and I think that there's a lot of agile thinking to come. I don't think we should believe that the thinking stops once you start thinking about blended learning. And I think it's worth remembering that, of course, young people are used… I also agree that the content delivery is the easiest bit of this and online affordances enable you to secure quality there, but I think the wider co-curricular experience is where it gets really challenging because we do need to remember that we all run institutions here where the core market is 18 year olds, and we are socializing as well as educating them, they are learning to be adults, as well as learning to be designers and social workers and nurses.

I don't think we've done to play that socialization, so navigating a way through that and navigating the way through that with the generation or course do not just socialize face to face, they also socialize online.

Jonathan Baldwin

Indeed, indeed. Really good segment. Let me just turn it in the final section just to think about the student of the future, and there is a lot to talk about personalized, adaptive learning and it means many things, I think, too many people and you look at the government push around micro credentials and the ability to build your own programmes from multiple sources and have them accredited have them relevant to work which, you know, somebody mentioned earlier, and then the idea of co-creation, students as active participants in their own learning as opposed to passive recipients in the way they were taught, we were taught, Chris perhaps in the past.

Anne, any thoughts on that from your perspective, having introduced it and I will go around to get a view from everyone.

Anne Carlisle

And yes, I think, irrespective of where or how we deliver be physically or virtually proffer that personalized learning is going to be the most enormous driver in the future, and I mean if I could just say by that I define personalized learning, experiences as containing both customized learning and adaptive learning and then simple terms customized learning is about what you want an adaptive learning is about what you need.

And the ability to create a, you know, customized experience, personalized experience and co-create them with students allows suggestions of learning paths that will resonate with students but makes it much more a personal and meaningful experience.

Now adaptive learning as much more efficient it teaches the students what the they don't know when it doesn't waste time teaching them what they do know. And it's also really effective because students can go back to learning if they if they haven't quite assimilated it and basically as we found during covid, really perfect their understanding. So the technology's there and immersive will play a big part in this as well, which will create fantastic experiences that the user will love. So I think it will inflect whatever kind of environments we're delivering in in a kind of hybrid future.

Jonathan Baldwin

Yeah, Paul, there's an interesting link there, you know Anne mentions immersive technology, you know we're interested in how AI can be used effectively, any thoughts from you on this broad personal adaptive core design arena.

Paul Feldman

So we believe that, actually, this is the future when it will be able to be delivered in a cost effective way for thousands, hundreds of thousands of students, is it for me is the only question but it's definitely moving in that direction, and this market of one, this recognizing that students are individuals and they will have the best experience when we can tailor the experience to them, rather than sheep-dipping them along with thousands of other students and as Anne says, things like immersive technology are a real aid to that because they can learn in their way but there are it means we need multiple immersive technologies and we do need that piece of machine learning artificial intelligence that can understand where the student is has got it where they haven't got it and can adapt to them, and I think there's that side that's going to take us a bit longer. As well as understanding well enough what good teaching looks like, so that we can provide the technology to support that. Learning from the best teachers to ensure that we actually sort of do automatically provide the technology support for that, but that's definitely where in our view things are going to be.

And we also believe that there's a need for the sector to collaborate together to create these capabilities to create that great content. To really sort of understand what good teaching looks like so we can provide the technology as a sector so to make that happen, but, but we have no doubts that at some point over the next 15 years or so that that'll be the way that students learn.

Jonathan Baldwin

Paul, thank you. Alec?

Alec Cameron

One side of things I might pick up firstly with regard to virtual reality, you know, truly sort of immersive learning. I think there's still a perception in the sector, and I think was evident in terms of the return to campus arrangements which the Government put in place, which is you can deliver the social sciences, the humanities, the non-laboratory based disciplines quite adequately online. But you can't really deliver the practice based the laboratory based the clinical based courses online hence you need to bring them back to campus sooner. And, clearly, the solution to that is going to be, you know truly sort of immersive technologies and virtual reality and so forth, to close that sense of well actually there are some disciplines that we can't deliver online.

And I know plenty of scientists who genuinely believe that you know if you haven't broken test tubes in laboratory you can't be a serious scientist. And my view is well every plane I’ve caught has been driven by a pilot who trained on a simulator. Right so I’m not convinced that there are pretty important skills that can be delivered through working through simulation and virtual reality so that's my first comment, which is, I think that's a gap to close, both in perception and reality, and I think VR is part of that, and I think the other comment would make to truly adaptive learning. I just think we're in a very low foothills at the moment, as we proceed towards the Alps in terms of the opportunity here. You know we're very quickly pivoted to online, which means that students can learn at their own pace at their own speed asynchronously that's great, but it is going to require we say serious data and serious AI utilizing that data to truly personalized and make adaptive education.

Jonathan Baldwin

Yeah, good point about the simulator Alec. I always worry about it, but anyway. Chris?

Chris Husbands

Okay that's I just want to try and build on what Alec and Anne have said, because I think it leads us to some really quite crunchy strategic choices. So the first is looking at this from a student point of view. And we want to give students additional agency over the way they learn and the pace and the content, the question is how do you structure that choice? Is it a choice between different components of studying, different modes and study and so on, and so you can navigate your way through that so structuring that to give students meaningful choice, and particularly in areas where there is, I don't to be sort of deficit model about this, but where there is an information deficit. Where students are not, do not necessarily have high levels of educational, cultural capital, I think there’s some really tough stuff there.

The second thing is that I think, as we navigate our way towards that there are some really tough choices about what the HE workforce needs to look like. And, whether you need the workforce structure as it is now in order to build additional learning mentors, additional guides, all of that that area of work and these things. And then the third bit that, we are Vice chancellors on this call by and large, is the economics of this begins look very scary. And I think there's some… collaboration is a really important word, and I don't think collaboration… we started with the good news of the last year, I think the bad news is that we all approached this as autarkic institutions. We've all done this ourselves and we've done it slightly differently so how we navigate away through this to be more collaborative. And then, if you start looking at the structure of markets that have become more technologically enabled. There has been a massive shake out of organizations, you get much more consolidated markets, so it may be that the flip side of greater adaptability greater student focus greater simulation and VR is a whole range of mergers and the emergence of some chains and multi-site institutions, because the economics for few in that direction.

Jonathan Baldwin

I think that last round of commentary and as you've sort of brought it together Chris there's almost created the agenda for this series of podcasts you know there's so many big questions that require you know, clear discussion articulation etc. And as we come to the end of our time I’d like to just reflect on that and perhaps go back to the positive opening I think Alec you began by you know sort of asserting that universities have shown that they can move quickly, they can be agile they're not slow that they're not rigid. I contributed to an event six months or so ago, and I said it felt to me like universities had rediscovered their relevance after a bad press over a number of months, some of that very unfair perhaps some of it, you know more legitimate. But you know with the vaccines, with the way students were able to learn, be taught graduate, with the contribution to the behavioural impact of the pandemic, universities have been front and centre in this. So final question to each of you, as you look to the 21-22 academic year, what's your biggest hope in a in a couple of sentences Alec.

Alec Cameron

So I want to start with my first hope, which is, I hope, we're in a position where we are able to make choices rather than choices being dictated to us by the pandemics. And I'm optimistic, I hope that globally the vaccine roll out and you know other responses will actually put us in a position where we can determine how we want to provide education in the future, how we want to undertake academic work. Being in that situation, my second hope is that we don't just revert to where we were 14 months ago. And once again I’m you know they will be pressures in many institutions for people who are just desperate to turn the clock back to where we were I hope certainly my institution and many institutions in the sector genuinely seek the middle way between where we were 14 months ago, and where we have been for the last 12 months to find the best mix and the best solution for our students our stakeholders. And, thirdly, I hope that that reflection doesn't lead to everybody jumping to the same solution. I hope, actually, we see some diversification of responses across institutions so that we actually see more choice in the market, where different universities are offering different approaches to online and future learning and that those different responses are understood by the market and the students make choices with that knowledge.

Jonathan Baldwin

Thanks Alex, three very good points. Anne.

Anne Carlisle

Similar to Alec, my biggest hope is that we continue to build upon what we have learned, but through collaboration and kind of through co-creation and through open innovation, really. And I also have a really big hope, which is so that will be well understood, finally, that universities have a major part to play in the recovery of the wider economy. And what we were talking about in terms of personalization of experience, that is going to inform every single sector and whatever business you're in. Delivering a delightful user experience to customers is the most important thing I think any of us can do. So, what we're doing now in some respects albeit are in the foothills is pioneering and will have application in lots of sectors, because all research shows that experiences make people happier than things on the objects and therefore we can help not only transform ourselves but assist reengagement or re casting of everything from the high street to the way in which we you know sort of engaged in community action. So that sounds very big and grand but I absolutely believe we are doing stuff that will lead to assisting those other sectors recover too.

Jonathan Baldwin

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being big and grand Anne, you know let's set the sights high and there's so much there, you’re right. Chris.

Chris Husbands

I'm going to repeat things have already been said, I don’t think I can better them. I’m just going to preface them with a caution. I think that it's absolutely right that, if the universities have demonstrated agility and responsiveness. I think if you came into this crisis, a positive view of universities, you have a more positive view of universities. But I also suspect that is the case that if you came into this crisis with a negative view of universities, nothing has really shifted.

So my hope is that we can emphasize the positive and in order to do that it's the hope that we can make the choices for our students on a positive agenda and that we can demonstrate our continuing relevance, not just to those students who attend but to wider society.

Jonathan Baldwin

Thank you, Chris and final word to Paul please.

Paul Feldman

I do think we're that there's some level of consensus around what the future should look like, so my hope for 21-22 is that we move away from what the future is and really sort of get that big focus on how do we get to that future and how do we ensure that in 2030 the UK remains one of those best places in the world to learn at a university.

Jonathan Baldwin

Paul, thank you. And, as we close, strong personal thanks to everyone to Chris to Anne, to Alec, it's been a real tour de force reflecting on the pandemic and the acceleration that that brought, the importance of us getting closer to our students knowing them better. The importance of the social experience alongside the learning the academic experience. Issues around co creation personalized adaptive learning, the centrality of universities to economic recovery, but also the challenge of perceptions which are still need to improve in parts of the society and in perhaps in Westminster. And I guess the only thing to say in closing is Chris I’ve got my mug on my desk so I’m a lost cause in the Jisc London office.

Colleagues, thank you and, finally, for listeners who want more information about Jisc’s powering you get higher education document, please see the show notes in the description thanks all for listening we're very grateful.

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Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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