Events > Big Conversation > Virtual Programme


Monday 11th October 2021 

 The virtual event is open to all AUDE Members and Corporate delegates. 

AUDE Big Conversation 2021




09:00 - 09:25



09:25 - 09:30

Welcome  Address 

Jane White, Executive Director, AUDE

Stephen Wells, Director of Estates, Facilities and Commercial Services, University of Surrey and AUDE Chair 

09:30 - 10:30

Plenary 1: Adventures in Time and Space: Stories from our Futures


2020 and 2021 changed the ways we worked, studied, and lived. The last 18 months brought our communities hardship, distress and loss, but also unexpected benefits and sources of happiness.

We stand at a crossroads in terms of what the ‘new normal’ looks like, and on the cusp of new challenges for higher education, which include changes to our funding, potentially to the balance of provision between FE an HE, to the ‘3 year’ degree as standard, to students’ and parents’ expectations of support and experience, and to how we engage with the needs of wider society, including how we respond to the climate change crisis. Our use of space and time, enabled by digital will have significant bearings on how we shape our future.

This keynote imagines some possible futures – universities located firmly in places, and universities which exist across time and space; for young people, estranged from their families, looking forwards to starting their own lives and finding new supportive communities, and young families whose lives are transformed by the parents’ ability to combine work, study and home, because work and university require no nights away and no commute.

What will make a university? A place? A distinctive offer? A reputation that confers social advantage? Fluidity and flexibility made possible through relationships with other education providers and organisations? A vision of building a better society?

This keynote will sketch possible scenarios and outline some of our choices to shape our futures.

Professor Shân Wareing, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Northampton 

10:30 - 11:15

Refreshment Break

11:15 - 12:15

Business Supporter Sessions

Session A1: Elastic Spaces for learning, teaching, working, enjoying: how digital infrastructure capabilities enable high flexibility, lower Opex and keep options open for the future.


Top-down, long range Estates Master Plans are and always will be needed. But their content needs to re-focus in favour of flexible general-purpose and quickly reconfigurable spaces - both new-build and the existing estate. Highly specialised spaces require the sort of certainty and predictability that are no longer available to us. This talk identifies the key shape-shifts that are becoming the norm and how digital infrastructure capabilities enable seamless re-purposing of physical and virtual space to deliver greater stakeholder experience and operational efficiency.

Ceri Williams, Enterprise Architect, Cisco

Session A2: Towards an agile HE estate – a lawyer’s perspective


The HE estate and the use of the campus is changing rapidly following the impact of COVID-19. New ways of using space are creating opportunities for HEIs to benefit from this agility and flexibility, both as a key selling point and differentiator for students and university staff, and as a means to enhance income generation, carbon reduction and to promote estates efficiencies. As lawyers working with the HE sector, we will discuss how best we can help HEIs on their journey towards an agile estate. What are the key pitfalls we have encountered and how can they be avoided? Identifying the key legal barriers to flexibility within estates planning and construction whilst eliminating or transferring as much of the legal risks as possible, should position HEIs to maximise estates agility and the potential for positive change.

Mark Paget Skelin, Partner, Bevan Brittan LLP

Niamh Batterton, Legal Director, Bevan Brittan LLP


Session A3: Making campuses where students want to be


Students, faculty and professional staff all learned and worked in agile ways prior to Covid, alongside 'in person'. The balance of physical  to virtual is fluid, but ‘uni’ is more than knowledge and social networking, and students want ‘the real  thing’.  For this to happen, campuses must feel safe, effective and enjoyable, and must achieve this while addressing the climate emergency and future health contingencies. 

Led by EDU’s principals from Make (Architecture), Max Fordham (Servicing), and ZZA Responsive User Environments (User research), with inputs from Gustafson Porter + Bowman (Landscape), and Elliot Wood (Structure), reflecting our holistic approach, this session will focus on what HE can do, focussing on key design principles for internal and external campus spaces. 

David Patterson, Partner, Make Architects

Ziona Strelitz, Founder Director, ZZA Responsive User Environments

Phil Armitage, Senior Partner, Max Fordham

12:15 - 13:30

Lunch Break


13:30 - 14:30

Plenary 2: The agile university


In this session I will describe a vision for a university of the future and in doing so will also furnish a manifesto of sorts for the managers of the university estate. To achieve this I will start (very briefly) with an overview of the early educational philosophers such as John Henry Newman. Such discussion is necessary to form a solid rationale for a university as well as a firm foundation for more contemporary models.  I will move swiftly through a discussion of these models of higher education delivery and in doing so will highlight the need for the primacy of the undergraduate student. It is a sad thought that pre-pandemic higher education delivery was fraught with a range of external factors that may have constricted some forms of undergraduate expression as without such expression a university fails to thrive. The arrival of the pandemic and the spectre of rolling lockdowns has forced higher education delivery globally to become a hybrid model – no longer will students be asked to attend campus on a regular basis. However, rather than see such a radical shift as a soothsayer of doom that foretells the eventual decline of the university this new form of practice brings with it many opportunities. The directors of the university estate now hold a privileged position in which they facilitate, direct and guide the delivery of the new university – a university that will indeed thrive in this ‘new normal’.

Carl Senior, Reader in Psychology (Aston University) and Fellow of the British Psychological Society, Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and National Teaching Fellow

14:30 - 15:15

Refreshment Break


15:15 - 16:15

AUDE Special interest groups roundtable discussions on agile working

Session B1: SustainAgility – Is Agile Working More Sustainable?


Since March 2020 working from home has become more normal. Whilst students have lectures and seminars delivered online, academic and professional services staff across universities have had to learn how to work from anywhere – home, office and anywhere in between. There have been upsides to this approach to working as well as downsides. There is conflicting views about whether agile working is more sustainable both from an environmental and social perspective. This session will give you the opportunity share your experiences, questions and to hear how others are converging their sustainability and agility agendas. 

Andrew Nolan, Development & Sustainability Director, University of Nottingham and Chair of AUDE Sustainability Advisory Group

Alex Wright, Change and Culture Lead, University of Nottingham 

Dr Louise Ellis FRSA, Consultant

Session B2: Facilities Management – our role in enabling agile working


Do FM services need to be redesigned completely or just tweaked to support agile working and good customer experience on campus? What is the role of FM in shaping the agenda on agile working through our understanding of workplaces?

In this session, we will consider how building use is adapting as universities are adopting agile/flexible working.  They will consider the propositions that FM teams are already well equipped to support agile working versus the need for a more fundamental redesign of services to fit these new ways of working. How do we ensure that spaces are designed that enable FM to support them efficiently and can the opportunity for agile working be available for FM teams as well as our colleagues?

Our speakers have considerable experience within the HEI sector as well as across other businesses and will provide a lively discussion of these topics, as well as there being plenty of chance for you to input and question them.

Lucy Black, Head of Facilities & Student Accommodation, University of Plymouth and Chair of AUDE Strategic Facilities Management Group

Simone Fenton-Jarvis, MBA FIWFM, Workplace Consultancy Director at Relogix and Author at LID Publishing: The Human-Centric Workplace

Sinead O’Toole, Senior Future Spaces Manager,Sheffield Hallam University

Session B3: Capital 

Ken Kinsella, Director of Capital Development, London School of Economics and Political Science and Chair of AUDE Capital Group

Session B4: Smarter Working


Since March 2020 how we work has changed significantly for lots of office workers. Today we are going to discuss with two organisations outside the higher education sector on the ways they work. Looking at whether the savings made coupled with the cultural changes have led to smarter working.

Many local authorities have already been on the journey of  rationalising their estate and introduced agile working some years ago. Daniella Barrow, former president of ACE’S (Association of Chief Estates Surveyors) and Director of NPS Group will share her experiences of estates rationalisation and the evolving agile working policy for the NPS Group.

Also joining the session is Richard Thomas from NHS Property Services Ltd where he is tasked with providing inspiring workspaces to support NHS colleagues and enabling smarter working, recognising the balance with maximising property efficiencies and cost saving opportunities around the NHS office estate. This is linked to the changing requirements for space, with new ways of working and the systematic changes in the NHS. The session will explore the NHS Property Services Smarter Working journey and some of the support offered to the wider NHS system. He will talk us through the approach the NHS has adopted to establish a Hub in Hull to facilitate smarter working. Sharing with us the hurdles he has overcome and lessons learnt.

We will then look to the audience to share their smarter working experiences and agree on the main issues an estate manager needs to address over the next 12 months to achieve smarter working at their University.

Karen Maddison, Land and Property Manager, University of York and Chair of AUDE Estates Management Group

Kate Richardson, Head of National Office Programme, NHS Property Services Ltd

Daniella Barrow, Senior Director, NPS Group 

Session B5: Fragile working -  handle with care


Agile working has been in the private sector for decades, but it is only now becoming meaningful in HE as many institutions look to incorporate agile working policies as an option for much of their workforce post-pandemic.

There are, of course, many pros and cons of agile working to both the employer and employee. So, how do UK HEIs intend to implement agile working policies in what is arguably a very traditional and unique sector? And how do they strike a balance which will support staff and students, whilst also improving many of their core activities?

Join Dave, along with a number of other space management professionals from leading UK HEIs, as we explore how institutions are tackling this challenge. We will consider the lessons institutions are learning in relation to agile working implementation and policy; which of these are universally applicable to all, and what are the pitfalls we all need to avoid?

Dave Beavis, Space Manager, University of Exeter and Chair of AUDE Space Management Group

16:15 - 16:45

Feedback from AUDE special interest group sessions, wrap up and close 

Jane White, Executive Director, AUDE

Stephen Wells, Director of Estates, Facilities and Commercial Services, University of Surrey and AUDE Chair 

Please note that the session titles and speakers are subject to change.


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