Not Another Blog. Ripping up the rule book and creating our own event.

Not Another Blog. Ripping up the rule book and creating our own event.

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It’s been a week since Education Cubed ran our first-ever conference. The seed was planted in 2017 (a year after the launch of the business). Vicky Hayhurst, Emma Bridge and Charlotte Renwick and I were having lunch and mulling the benefit versus cost of attending the typical HE conference – noting the things we enjoyed and valued, and elements that we didn’t. Someone said, “I wish someone would organise an event that we all really wanted to go to.” So, Cubed did. It took us a while, but we did it. It was Not Another HE Conference.

Not the usual content: Our delegates influenced the agenda. We built a programme of speakers, having asked people what they wanted to hear about. Gathering themes & key issues and turning them into sessions. We mixed and matched delegates from different universities to sit – cabaret style – together allowing post session thinking, planning and discussion.

We included speakers from in and out of the sector – starting the day with an inspiring session from Vivienne Stern (Chief Executive, UUK) and another highlight was our Data, Measurement & ROI panel – LJ Gould (Director of Marketing, Manchester Metropolitan University), John McCarthy (Associate Chief Operating Officer, University of Salford), Paul Harvey (Director of Marketing, Recruitment & Admissions, University of Surrey), Tom Greveson (CEO, Revolution Viewing) & Cubed’s own Rich Webb. They shared their experiences from in and out of the sector – it was so engaging! Best practice in CRM featured insights from the world of banking as Scott Melville from Barclays gave us some sound advice. And we were treated to a student panel organised by UCAS and Savanta. The students were in years 12 & 13 and were just brilliant in saying it like it is – “I want to be treated as an individual, not someone to be marketed to”.

Not just about the market: The second day was all about personal development, and we were listened to some exceptionally authentic and insightful sessions – highlights for me included our opening session from Dan Barcroft (Director, Student Recruitment, Marketing & Admissions, University of Sheffield) who talked about triumph & failure and managing through both with class – it was so good! And this session was followed by Caroline Bysh (Vice Principal, External Relations & Student Experience, SRUC) and Cubed’s own Sarah Jane Spooner, who spoke about how to create impactful reports to win internal battles – brilliant.

Not the regular sponsorship arrangements: Balancing sponsorship is always tricky. We’re not sure that a flyer in a tote bag really adds any value at all. So, we ditched the whole idea of giveaways, lanyards, event stands etc. and instead worked with colleagues from Revolution Viewing, UCAS, Springpod & FindAUniversity who gave us more than financial support. Over the years, I have often been a sponsor at many events – sometimes all you get is a mention and a logo for your troubles. This was different. The four businesses helped build the event platform, helped shape the content, sat on panels, shared their insight in sessions and hosted tables with us. So, a huge thank you to them from us. We were glad you were there. Next year, we hope to develop this further – expanding the way that we work and sharing the workload with businesses that can add value in all sorts of ways.

Not the usual entertainment: Before all eating together, we were treated to a quiz via Bantshire University. Vince Chancelier (Bantshires VC) was sadly unable to join us but sent us a video message from his all-expenses paid research trip to the Caribbean. He was delighted to be able to announce that Bantshire University is on the cusp of signing an MOU with Pablos Jet Ski Hire. A world exclusive. Sadly, he also announced that the Bantshire School of Origami is set to close. He promised more on that story as it unfolds.

Not an easy task: It was an incredible amount of work to make things run smoothly and a huge thank you to the Cubed team who worked long hours in the run up to the event. Particular thanks to Chris Rogers whose calm demeanour kept us all focused and Vicky Hayhurst – who truly drove this event – project managing from the start, creating a unique event, swerving obstacles and managing to also finish the conference with a fabulous session on excellence – very apt. It was a fantastic few days and we have been incredibly grateful for the feedback so far – hugely positive and a few things to learn and improve when we do (Yet Another) Not Another HE Conference next year.

Please get in touch if you have thoughts, feedback, or ideas.



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