I became aware of the Association of University Administrators (AUA) through attending a presentation at the University of Bath about their study tours. I thought that it seemed like such a positive opportunity to share information and expertise, and to get a feel of how other cultures’ educational systems work.
I assumed that I wasn’t really important enough/ not on a high enough grade to be sent to the AUA Annual Conference, but I was encouraged by my manager to register. At first I wondered what I could possibly contribute, but having seen that they offered working sessions and being quite opinionated, I thought this would certainly be something I could participate in! I did feel a little apprehensive when I arrived at the conference centre as I was out of my comfort zone – I must say that this was also part of my motivation for going, I feel it’s important to keep challenging yourself.
The Conference contained a mixture of large talks to all delegates, some smaller presentations and a series of working groups. Most of the sessions were held in Nottingham Conference Centre, but the largest talks were held a short distance away at the Albert Hall. It was great to meet my fellow delegates from other universities, who all had a wide range of roles. Some had been working for their institution for a long time, whereas others had only recently began their employment, ensuring there was a whole range of backgrounds and experiences to build our discussions on. I was also quite surprised to see representatives from overseas institutions and upon speaking with some of them, realised just how different comparative roles could be.
Although I gained something from each session, there was one talk I attended that was by far the most enjoyable: The future of data and information in HE by Andy Youell, Director of HEDIIP. Andy was very engaging and amusing on a subject which could have come across as very dry.
In the evening I attended the gala dinner. It was good to have the opportunity to meet a few more people, but I did feel that those who didn’t drink were perhaps not enjoying the event very much! I dined with a smaller group and got to know other University of Bath attendees who I hadn’t met previously, which was a valuable experience.
It was great to have the opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other universities and to share ideas and good practice. I think there should be far more of this.