Keynote Speakers

Chris Millward, Office for Students (OfS)

Access and participation in the new HE environment

Chris Millward

Chris Millward is the first Director for Fair Access and Participation in the Office for Students (OfS).  His role is to ensure that universities and colleges are doing all they can to support underrepresented groups to access and succeed in higher education. Chris is also an executive member of the OfS board.

In his previous role at HEFCE as Director (Policy), he led HEFCE’s work on access and student success, learning and teaching, and higher level skills.  This included delivery of the Teaching Excellence Framework, the National Student Survey and the National Collaborative Outreach Partnerships, as well as programmes to remove barriers to student success, to improve postgraduate progression and to develop degree apprenticeships.     

Chris has also worked at the universities of Warwick, Edinburgh and Durham before joining the Arts and Humanities Research Council as Head of Research Programmes in 2002 and HEFCE in 2006.


Alison Shaw, Vice-President, National Foundation for Educational Research and Founder, North East Futures UTC

The Changing Landscape of Higher Education: Opportunity and Transition

Image of Alison Shaw

Alison has enjoyed a long and varied career in the English education system. She is Vice-President of NFER, the UK’s leading independent provider of education research and insights; and Founder of North East Futures UTC.

She studied Modern Foreign Languages to postgraduate level at the University of Leeds, to which she subsequently returned to do her PGCE after a year spent teaching at the University of Lyon in France. She has occupied senior roles in several secondary schools in England, including 11 years as a Headteacher, specialising throughout in shaping and augmenting curricula which combine academic rigour with real-world experience and relevance.

She has very recently completed her year as David Goldman Visiting Professor of Innovation and Enterprise at Newcastle University Business School. She is currently working with University colleagues, global businesses, SMEs, VCSEs and the public sector at the interface between education and the economy, to enhance successful progression for learners. Alison sees partnership as key to our ability to make social, cultural and economic progress as well as to enhance educational success. She believes that preparing for transitions at every stage of education is of critical importance for students if they are to make well-informed future-facing decisions about their entry into a dynamic labour market. Alison is particularly interested in the way that digital technology touches every aspect of human experience and in how we best equip young people with the high-level skills they will need to thrive in the future workforce and to shape our changing society.

Alison occupies a range of non-exec roles; supports and advises a number of businesses and charities; and is mentor to several young entrepreneurs.