Thriving in an uncertain world: a workshop for heads of depts & leaders in LLAS

Date: 13 September, 2012
Location: Birkbeck College, Uni of London, Clore Management Centre, Torrington Square, London WC1A 7JL (Blg 2)
Event type: Workshop

Location map | Programme

2012-13 will be the first year in which students in England will pay up to £9,000 in fees. For 2013 entry, each course will have a Key Information Set (KIS) which will enable potential students to see a summary of National Student Survey (NSS) satisfaction scores, how much time students will spend in lectures and seminars, the price of rent, the percentage of students employed six months after graduation as well as other information about the course and institution. League tables compiled by newspapers are well scrutinised by potential students and their parents and teachers. International sponsors take this data very seriously in deciding where to send their learners.

Whilst it is yet to be seen what impact these funding changes will have on universities generally and on language departments in particular, heads of department need to ensure that they are able to use their resources to best effect. This includes developing a good knowledge of external funding mechanisms and understanding the way your institution distributes its funding to departments internally.  

The workshop will cover the following

  • Understanding and interpreting the National Student Survey, League Tables and Key Information Sets
  • Using the National Student Survey for quality enhancement
  • Understanding your national funding picture (different in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland Wales)
  • Understanding resource allocation in your institution
  • Managing the budget of your department/section budget


  • There is a charge of £95 for employees and postgraduate students of publicly funded UK educational institutions to attend this event.
  • There is a charge of £120 for employees and postgraduate students of private institutions/organisations and non-UK institutions to attend this event.
  • Please note that we reserve the right to retain the £95 / £120 as a cancellation fee if you do not notify us by Friday 7 September 2012 that you are unable to attend.
  • Full details of our charging policy are available.
  • Lunch will be provided.

Provisional programme for 13 September 2012


Coffee and registration


Welcome and Housekeeping


What do we need to know? A year of big change


The 2012-13 is an important year in UK higher education. In England the first cohort of students paying up to £9000 will be starting and it is the last full academic year before the REF submission deadline in December 2013. Applicants for September 2013 will be the first to have access to Key Information Sets (KIS) on student satisfaction, employment and living costs. It is predicted that extra funded places for students with A-level grades of AAB and above could bring many universities into the clearing system for the first time in many years. It is essential that Heads of Department understand the possible implications of these changes, not only strategically, but also in terms of their impact on the everyday life and work of their department.


Michael Kelly, LLAS, University of Southampton


What I wish I’d known. On being a Head of Department:  


Heads of Department need to have a handle on the national picture and their own institutional strategy, but this sort of knowledge and understanding is of little value to a department head who finds it difficult to lead and manage their department staff. Academic leadership has often been described as ‘herding cats’. This session will provide some insights into being a leader and manager in a profession where individuality and independence are highly valued.

 Speaker to be nominated by UCML


Group session: Dealing with difficult people


Difficult colleagues come in all ages, career stages, levels of seniority and personality types. In this session we will work in groups to discuss how we would manage some particularly difficult fictional individuals.    





What kinds of students can we expect? How schools and students are changing.

Changes in school education are rarely out of the news, but those of us in universities find it difficult to predict how these changes will impact on our new students’ academic and social preparedness for higher education. This session will be led by a teacher currently teaching languages at A-level who provide insight into the academic experiences of the students who will be joining us in the next year or two.

 Helen Myers, The Ashcombe School


What do students want to know before they decide what or where to study?

The present Government is strongly committed to ensuring that potential students are able to make informed decisions about what and where to study. From September 2012 applicants will have access to Key Information Sets which provide data on employment destination, National Student Survey (NSS) answers, assessment types and staff-student contact time. As well as the newspaper complied league tables the consumer magazine Which? is also moving into the university reviews business. This session will identify the key sources of information for potential students and how we can provide the best possible information for prospective students, their teachers and their parents.


John Canning, LLAS, University of Southampton


Group session:


In groups we will be looking at some fictional Key Information Sets in languages and related studies. We will discuss what we think the KIS is telling us about the institution and how a student might use it. We will also think about what other forms of information students use to inform their decisions and how we can improve them.




Tea and plenary


An opportunity to further raise questions and discuss issues which have arisen during the day.