We were delighted to welcome several sector specialists to share their expertise, each of whom addressed a specific aspect of attainment. Please see a copy of their slides from the day beneath their names.

You can watch all the presentations by following the link below. Please enter your whole email address and UAL password to gain access.

Professor Bairbre Redmond
Deputy Registrar, University College Dublin
Academic Analytic – Exploring Probabilities in Students Learning
Professor Bairbre Redmond Presentation slides


As most higher education institutions start to collect and organise their administrative and educational data via on-line management information systems, the potential of using  these data to inform academic planning grows exponentially. Initially such analysis was viewed as being useful primarily in terms of programme marketing and measuring retention and progression. However, considerable strides have now been made in developing more subtle academic analytical approaches, focused on recognising the emerging patterns of student learning and engagement with their studies when matched with other aspects of their academic programmes.

Much of what the higher education sector does is measured against externally created, broad  benchmarks for accountability purposes (e.g. NSS, Research Assessment Exercise etc.).  This paper will discuss the value of institutions also developing their own internal and discipline-specific evidence-base to assist academics review and enhance the effectiveness of their local educational approaches.  This paper will  look at some of the emerging international trends in the use of academic analytics to assist HE institutions to support local student learning and engagement. It will draw on specific examples of the academic analytics and staff feedback systems used at University College Dublin (a research-intensive university with approx 30,000 students), how these systems have been developed and their usefulness to both staff and students  .

Dr Doug Belshaw
Director, Dynamic Skillset
How to recognise learning everywhere using Open Badges


Doug is a former teacher and senior leader who has experience of Higher Education through his work with Jisc. A member of the original Mozilla Open Badges team, Doug has been a vocal advocate for their adoption in all sectors. His doctoral thesis explored the digital literacies, a topic he has extended into his work over the last couple of years at Mozilla through the Web Literacy Map.

In his keynote session and workshop, Doug explored alternative credentialing as well as learning pathways. He explained how the Open Badges Infrastructure (OBI) works, pointed to a diverse range of examples, and gave participants a chance to design their own badge. You can still tweet your questions to Doug at @dajbelshaw.

Open Badge Workshop

Participants were given the opportunity to design badges that work well in an LCF context. Using proven tools, the knowledge, skills and behaviours that staff and students need to be successful in the world of fashion were captured.

Dr Debra Cureton
Senior Research Fellow, University of Wolverhampton & Project Leader of What Works in Wolves
The affective aspects of student attainment
Dr Debra Cureton Presentation slides


Dr Debra Cureton is based in the Research Policy Unit and the Doctoral College at the University of Wolverhampton.  Her role focuses on individual development and equality of experience for both University staff and students. Additionally Debra coordinates research programmes pertaining to student success, gaps in attainment and retention.  As part of this work, Debra currently leads the Wolverhampton What Works Project, which is a Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Higher Education Academy funded retention and success change programme.  Previously she co-led the HEA funded Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) programme.  Debra’s research interests also include the implementation of mentoring and coaching in higher education settings and the impact of mentoring on the well-being of university staff.

In her keynote session, Debra explored; the role of students’ psychological contract in learning relationships and student engagement; the role of students’ developing sense of belonging in their success; ideas about how to generate closer learning relationships.

Dr Karen Ottewell

Director of Academic Development & Training for International Students, University of Cambridge
Is language a barrier to attainment?
Dr Karen Ottewell Presentation slides


Samuel Johnson once noted that ‘language is the dress of thought’, an apt metaphor for such a creative industry as fashion. And indeed, this adage very much holds true, both for fashion as well as for every other discipline. Yet whilst there is a strong case to be made that the creativity required, the ‘thought’ to use Johnson’s word, is extra-linguistic, the primary mode in which we communicate this creativity, this ‘thought’, is through language, both spoken and written. Whilst much of the coursework that international students are required to do at the London College of Fashion may be non-linguistic in nature, showcasing as they do their creative abilities, when they come to discuss, for example, the rationale for their design or the marketing strategies involved, the fact still remains that this is in English. And, of course, all of their tuition, since they are at an English-speaking institution in an English-speaking country, is through the medium of English.

Whilst I do come down on the side that a lack of English language ability is very much a barrier to attainment, in this talk I discussed strategies that both the students and ourselves as UK HEIs can adopt to help mitigate this natural ‘barrier’ for international students. Language proficiency is a key consideration, but we are increasingly finding at Cambridge that this is only part of the story. What international students tend to be lacking is an understanding of the expectations of communication within the HE environment. The same is true for students whose first language is English – but this may be all the more compounded for international students if they are unsure of the paradigm that is expected of them, especially if their native paradigm is very different. It is here where transfer effects may appear and be interpreted as linguistic deficiencies rather than culturally, in the broadest sense, defined differences in approach. And that’s where HEIs come in: we need to start making this implicit far more explicit – something which will be of benefit to both home and overseas students at the UK’s highly internationalized HEIs.