Dr Ben Williamson
Chancellor's Fellow at the Centre for Research in Digital Education and the Edinburgh Futures Institute University of Edinburgh
Ben Williamson has been researching new developments in digital technology and data in education for over ten years. In his book Big Data in Education: The Digital Future of Learning, Policy and Practice, he detailed how data and analytics are changing the ways education policies are made and how teaching is managed. Currently working as a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, Ben also maintains the public research blog Code Acts in Education, and on Twitter he is @BenPatrickWill.
Dr Maha Bali
Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching, American University, Cairo
Maha Bali is Associate Professor of Practice at the Center for Learning and Teaching at the American University in Cairo. She has a PhD in Education from the University of Sheffield, UK. She is co-founder of virtuallyconnecting.org (a grassroots movement that challenges academic gatekeeping at conferences) and co-facilitator of Equity Unbound (an equity-focused, open, connected intercultural learning curriculum, which has also branched into academic community activities Continuity with Care and Inclusive Academia). She writes and speaks frequently about social justice, critical pedagogy, and open and online education. She blogs regularly at http://blog.mahabali.me and tweets @bali_maha.
Nona McDuff OBE
Pro Vice-Chancellor Students and Teaching Solent University
Nona McDuff is Pro Vice-Chancellor, Students and Teaching at Solent University, Southampton. She was awarded an OBE for her services to higher education and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Throughout her career, Nona has been driven by her commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion in her teaching, leadership and research. She is passionate about widening access and is dedicated to ensuring inclusion in higher education is recognised as an essential measure of quality in teaching and professional services. Nona is currently a member of the Advance HE Peer Review Quality Committee and of the UUK’s Racial Harassment Advisory Group. She has been a panel member of the Teaching Excellence Framework, a member of the ministerial Social Mobility Advisory Group and chaired the Higher Education Race Action Group (HERAG). Nona was also invited to address the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Higher Education on diversity in academia. Nona’s work on the BAME awarding gap and the Inclusive Curriculum Framework gained sector recognition, was awarded the Guardian Teaching Excellence prize (2017) and has been disseminated across five other institutions as part of the Office for Students’ catalyst programme on student success.
Professor Dawn Bennett
Director of the Developing Employability and Creative Workforce Initiatives Curtin University, Australia
Dawn Bennett is John Curtin Distinguished Professor and Professorial Fellow of Higher Education and Graduate Futures with the Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellent Centre, Curtin University, Australia. Dawn worked as a chamber and orchestral musician (violist) in the UK and Australia before embarking on her research career. Director of the EmployABILITY Initiative, she is acknowledged internationally as an expert on the development of graduate employability within higher education. A National Senior Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in the UK, Dawn is an Adjunct Professor with Griffith and Monash Universities, a Visiting Fellow with the University of the Arts, Helsinki, and a Research Fellow with the Australian National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education. Dawn has led or contributed to over AUD$6 million in research grants from which she has published over 240 academic articles and 10 books. Publications appear at Researchgate.
Professor Ajay Agrawal
Geoffrey Taber Chair in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Professor of Strategic Management University of Toronto
Ajay Agrawal is the Geoffrey Taber Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Professor Agrawal conducts research on entrepreneurial finance, the commercialization of university science, and the economics of innovation. His current research focus is on the economics of artificial intelligence (AI). He has published a number of scholarly articles on this topic as well as the best-selling popular press book "Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence" (Harvard Business School Press, 2018) and co-edited the scholarly volume “The Economics of Artificial Intelligence: An Agenda” (University of Chicago Press, 2019). Professor Agrawal serves on the editorial board of the Strategic Management Journal and Management Science. He is founder of the Creative Destruction Lab.
Professor Clare Peddie
Vice-Principal Education, Enhancement Theme Lead for the Resilient Learning Communities University of St Andrews
Professor Clare Peddie is a graduate of the University of St Andrews. Her career has been focussed on education in biology and she is the first Professor appointed under new promotions procedures that recognise contributions to teaching and service at her University. Her undergraduate degree and PhD were both in Marine Biology at the University of St Andrews; her research career moved into medical research at other institutions before she returned to take an education-focussed position at St Andrews. She has held roles as Director of Teaching for the School of Biology, ProDean for Undergraduates in the Faculty of Science, ProDean for Taught Postgraduates and Head of School. She was promoted to Professor and was appointed to the role of Vice Principal Education (Proctor) in May 2019. External to her University, she has a depth of experience as an external examiner, an institutional reviewer for the QAA in Scotland and often conducts subject-based and degree-accreditation reviews of other institutions. She still teaches marine biology in the field at undergraduate and masters level and has interests in the role of experiential learning in effective teaching.
Professor Elizabeth Cleaver
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education and Digital), Buckinghamshire New University
Professor Elizabeth Cleaver is Pro Vice Chancellor (Education and Digital) at Buckinghamshire New University, providing leadership for education, the student experience and the use of digital technology. Following a seven year period working in educational policy evaluation for a range of government sponsors, she has spent the last 12 years focusing on the enhancement of learning and teaching in four contrasting English HE institutions. Liz’s recent work for QAA Scotland on evidencing intangible yet important aspects of the university experience can be traced back to the earliest part of her academic career where, as a qualitative sociologist, her research focused on the meaning and experience of housing and home for students and young adults.
Professor Valerie Webster
Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, Glasgow Caledonian University
Professor Valerie Webster's overall objective is to drive forward excellence in Learning and Teaching and the enhancement of the GCU Student Experience for all learners. Professor Webster has throughout her career been passionate about widening participation and supporting students to succeed regardless of their circumstances. Inclusion and equality have been key pillars throughout her career and she has been the Athena Swan and gender champion at her institution for many years. This strategic role connects with all aspects of the University to drive forward innovative pedagogies, technologies and approaches to ensure the delivery of a truly outstanding student experience that meets diverse student’s needs. Professor Webster has always had a keen interest in supporting students to develop the knowledge and skills to not only succeed in their chosen profession, but to become the change leaders of tomorrow.
Subject Specialist: Strategy (Accessibility), Jisc
Kellie Mote's role is to provide strategic advice and guidance to help Jisc members ensure their digital content is accessible to everyone. Kellie’s interests and experience include assistive technology, needs assessment and inclusive strategies. She also manages a large accessibility community of practice that enables Jisc members to share challenges and solutions
Working in inclusive education and assistive technology for over 20 years, Kellie’s first role was creating accessible learning materials for school pupils with vision impairment. She then progressed to teach IT and assistive technology skills to college students with vision impairment. At the BRITE Initiative (Beattie Resources for Inclusiveness in Technology and Education), she provided accredited training in assistive technology and inclusive practice to further and higher education professionals. Prior to joining Jisc, Kellie was student experience manager with remit for access and inclusion at Edinburgh College. In 2020, Kellie completed an MSc in Children and Young People’s Mental Health and Psychological Practice at the University of Edinburgh.
Dr Mhairi Thurston
Senior Lecturer, Abertay University
Dr Mhairi Thurston is a senior lecturer in Counselling with over 25 years’ experience in education. A Registered, Accredited Counsellor with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), she was appointed to the BACP Board of Governors in 2011. In 2018, she became Chair of the Research Governance Committee for BACP. From 2010 to 2017, she was Chair of VISION2020UK’s Counselling and Emotional Support Services Committee (CESS).
Her particular research interest is the social and emotional effects of acquired sight loss. Additionally, she is interested in wider issues surrounding disability, equality and inclusion. Dr Thurston's research has been featured on BBC News and in the national press, and she contributed to the Patient Rights (Scotland) Act 2011 regarding the accessibility of health information for blind and partially sighted patients.
Strongly committed to making a difference to policy and practice in the field of counselling and vision impairment, Dr Thurston is a member of Cross Party Advisory Group on Vision Impairment at Scottish Parliament and was on the Scottish Vision Strategy Advisory Board from 2010 – 2016. She was also involved in the Scottish Government’s review of Certification and registration in 2017, which was led by Professor Carrie McEwan.
She is a member of the editorial board for Disability and Society and an associate editor for the International Journal of Disability, Development and Education.
Gemma is a 23-year-old wheelchair athlete from Monifieth and a member of the GB Wheelchair Rugby Talent Squad which helps to prepare athletes to make the step to the Paralympic Squad.
Prior to being on the GB Talent Wheelchair Rugby Squad Gemma was a member of the Scotland U23 Wheelchair Basketball Team during her time on the squad Gemma won gold at the Celtic Cup 2016 and Co-Captained Scotland U19s at both the School Games and National Junior Championships.
Gemma coaches wheelchair basketball for Dundee Dragons Wheelchair Sports Club and won the COVA Young Coach of the Year in 2018. As well as being athlete and coach Gemma sits on the Scottish Women and Girls in Sport Advisory Board and until this year Scottish Disability Sport Young People’s Panel, she now supports and mentors the newly formed board. Gemma has spoken at the House of Lords about the benefits of disability sports and has been recognised as one of the most inspirational young women in Scotland by the YWCA. Gemma is currently in her 4th Year at Abertay university studying Sports Development and Coaching and hopes this will help to progress her career in disability sport.
Professor Sara Carter OBE
Vice-Principal and Head of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow.
Professor Sara Carter OBE FRSE is Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. A Professor of Entrepreneurship, Sara’s academic work examines the effects of business ownership on households and the consequences of structural inequalities in resource access on the SME sector. Her work encompasses the agriculture, rural and food sectors; the experiences of women as business owners; and the economic well-being of entrepreneurial households.
She is a member of the Council of Economic Advisers to the First Minister of Scotland; the Enterprise & Skills Strategic Board; board member of South of Scotland Enterprise; the Women in Enterprise Action Group; and Non-Executive Director of Women's Enterprise Scotland. In 2008 she was awarded an OBE for services to women entrepreneurs. She has served on boards including the British Bankers’ Association Diversity and Inclusion Business Council; the Scottish Government Strategic Group on Women and Work; the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants Research Committee; the Chartered Association of Business Schools Delivering Value Taskforce; and the Leverhulme Trust Research Awards Advisory Group.
Prior to her appointment at the University of Glasgow, Sara was Head of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Associate Principal at the University of Strathclyde.
Director, Access, Learning & Outcomes, Scottish Funding Council
James Dunphy is Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes at the Scottish Funding Council. James leads SFC's work on all aspects of learning provision including widening access and inclusion, equality and diversity, skills and learning quality. His directorate is also responsible for negotiating outcome agreements with Scotland's Universities and Colleges and for ongoing performance assessments.
James was previously a Director at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen and also Chair of Scotland's Centre for Work Based Learning.
Sir Paul Grice
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Queen Margaret University
- Principal and Vice Chancellor of Queen Margaret University Edinburgh since 2019.
- Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament 1999 -2019.
- Knighted in the New Year’s Honours List 2016.
- Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 2018. Elected Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences 2020.
- Current non-executive roles: Council Member, Institute for Fiscal Studies; Scientific Advisory Board Member, Behaviour Change by Design Research Project, Cambridge University; Trustee, Queen’s Nursing Institute Scotland; Convenor, Universities Scotland Learning and Teaching Committee.
- Previous roles: Trustee, Bank of Scotland Foundation, 2011-2020; Board Member, Edinburgh International Festival, 2013-2019; Board Member, Economic and Social Research Council, 2009-2015; Member of Court, University of Stirling, 2006-2013; Board Member, Policy Scotland (University of Glasgow) 2014-2019; Advisory Board Member, Scottish Centre for Social Research 2017-2020.
- Background: graduated in 1984 from University of Stirling. Joined the UK Civil Service through the “Fast Stream”; 1985-1992 - worked in several roles in Whitehall including as Principal Private Secretary to Virginia Bottomley MP.
- Moved to the Scottish Office - 1992-1999. Joined Constitution Group in May 1997 with lead responsibility for the Referendum on establishing the Scottish Parliament and, subsequently, the Scotland Act 1998 which laid the new constitutional framework. Appointed Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament in 1999.
Vice President (Education), Heriot-Watt University, Student Union
Alexander Hedlund is the current Vice President Education for Heriot-Watt University Student Union and in his second term as the Enhancement Themes Student Lead, SHEEC member and member of QAA Scotland’s Strategic Advisory Committee. He has also entered his first year as a Scottish representative on QAA UK’s Student Strategic Advisory Committee. Alexander has been involved in the student movement and academic representation, both locally and nationally, for five years and has keen interests in the pedagogic benefits of blended learning, alternative assessments and supporting diverse learning communities. He is excited to see the sector’s paradigm shift in learning and teaching that allows students from all backgrounds to excel in a co-creative environment that will inspire the leaders of tomorrow.
Professor Sally Mapstone
Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews
Professor Sally Mapstone FRSE is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, the second woman in succession to hold this role there. She is a board member of Universities UK, a trustee of UCAS and of the Europaeum, and a member of the advisory board of the Higher Education Policy Institute. She is Vice-Convener for Universities Scotland and also leads on its widening access work. She is chair of the international advisory board for the University of Helsinki. In 2017 she received the Foreign Policy Association of America medal for services to higher education. In 2019 she was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. As an academic Sally is a medievalist, with expertise in the area of medieval and Renaissance Scottish literature. She is President of the Saltire Society, which champions Scottish culture.
Professor Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal (Education), University of Aberdeen
Professor Ruth Taylor took up the role of Vice-Principal Education at the University of Aberdeen in November 2019. She is responsible for leading the effective delivery of the University’s strategic objectives for Education. Areas of responsibility include: quality and innovation in learning, teaching and assessment; student experience and engagement, including student support; student success; employability and entrepreneurship; quality assurance and enhancement across the provision. Ruth is also responsible for leading the University’s work on the Race Equality Charter.
Ruth was previously Senior Pro Vice Chancellor and Dean of a Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care, and Professor of Nurse Education, at Anglia Ruskin University from 2013. She held an institutional role in the leadership of the student retention strategy. Prior to that she worked at The Robert Gordon University in a leadership role in the School of Nursing and Midwifery having had a career in clinical nursing practice for 15 years.
Ruth’s research interests include student retention, the first-year student experience, social capital in the context of the student experience, compassion in healthcare practice, and student leadership in healthcare practice.
We would like to thank everyone who has contributed and supported the delivery of our online conference, ‘Building resilient learning communities’. In particular, we are grateful to colleagues who adapted their original proposals for the in-person conference (to have been held in June 2020), providing delegates with a rich and timely variety of new examples of practice and resources. Your work is greatly appreciated and we are glad we were able to share it.