Teaching & Learning


Research-based education conference 2017

'Connecting Higher Education: International perspectives on research-based education' was an international conference hosted by UCL, McMaster University and University of Adelaide.

This international flagship conference hosted by UCL explored challenges and opportunities for contemporary higher education around the world through three days of symposia, panel events, workshops and presentations.  In particular the conference focused on how research-based education can help universities make an impact for good in the world.

Key themes included:

  • What are our big ideas for research-based higher education in the 21st century?
  • How can universities align both research and teaching to address global challenges?
  • How can research-based education help universities impact public policy?
  • How can research-based education allow universities to better address inequalities, including of race, gender, and indigenous people?

News articles

Conference programme & book of abstracts 


Keynote and Panel presentation video recordings


Download the conference photographs from Amazon Drive - please credit Kirsten Holst 

Keynote speakers

Kalwant Bhopal, University of Birmingham 

Professor Kalwant Bhopal discussed 'Using research-based education to address inequalities of race and gender in higher education'. The presentation argued that despite recent policy developments and changes in the student body, inequalities continue to persist in higher education. The study draws on recent research which explores higher education transitions for students in the final year of their degree as they make transitions into the labour market or post graduate study. The talk argued that universities must analyse data for student progression, identify gaps and provide strategies for how lack of progress for some groups can be addressed. 

Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice and Professorial Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Race and Education, University of Birmingham. Her areas of expertise are centred around the achievements and experiences of minority ethnic groups in education, and her research specifically explores how processes of racism, exclusion and marginalisation operate in predominantly white spaces with a focus on social justice and inclusion.

Barbara Moser-Mercer, University of Geneva

Barbara focused on the potential of higher education in emergencies. Leveraging virtual learning in humanitarian settings could be considered as one of the new frontiers of higher education in the age of global migration. As a growing number of institutions of higher learning and NGOs enter this space to launch digital higher education initiatives for those forcibly displaced, assumptions around scaling through technology largely influence project design and implementation. There is a gap in knowledge and understanding of the specificity of the humanitarian context, especially the last mile where learners live and work. When it comes to designing and implementing higher education in emergency initiatives the attendant risk is one of potentially doing more harm than good. 

Barbara Moser-Mercer is Professor of conference interpreting and founder and Director of InZone, University of Geneva. Her research focuses on cognitive neuro-science aspects of the interpreting process, the human performance dimension of skill development, and on factors that enable digital learning in fragile contexts. Through the development and Installation of InZone Higher Education Spaces in refugee camps in the Horn of Africa and in MENA she has expanded InZone’s mission to design and implement innovative digital learning models for Higher Education in Emergencies working in close collaboration with UNHCR, the International Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE), ICRC, INGOs and higher education institutions around the world.

Panel Members

Arshad Ahmed, McMaster University

Arshad Ahmad is the Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning and the Director of Paul R. MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation and Excellence in Teaching. His current research interests are in Accelerated Learning Designs, Conceptual Change, Translation Research and Impact of Programs.

Arshad is dedicated to engaging networks of fellow teachers and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL) leaders. His four-year term as President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) and two-year term as Vice-President of the International Consortium of Educational Developers (ICED) concluded recently. He is currently Chair of Teaching and Learning Canada, a charitable organisation whose goal is to promote and enhance the quality of teaching and learning in Canadian post-secondary education and a board member of Academics Without Borders.

Michael Arthur, UCL 

Professor Michael Arthur is President and Provost of UCL. Prior to this he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, and formerly Professor of Medicine (1992), Head of the School of Medicine (1998-2001) and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences in Southampton (2003-04).  He is a hepatologist with research interests in liver cell biology developed initially at the University of California, San Francisco (1986-1988) and then as a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York (2002).  In 2015, Professor Arthur became the first Vice-Chancellor of a Russell Group University to become a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Diana Beech, Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI)

Diana Beech is the Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). She has experience of policy-making in both Whitehall and at the EU-level, having recently worked at the Department for Education as part of the team responsible for setting up the Office for Students. She is also a founding member of the European Commission’s ‘Voice of the Researchers’ network. Diana has previously managed projects looking at the values behind EU research and innovation policy, the ‘gig economy’, and the impact of open access mandates on the arts and humanities in the UK.

Simone Buitendijk, Imperial College London

Professor Simone Buitendijk, MD, MPH, PhD, is Vice-Provost (Education) and leads Imperial College London's vision for an innovative and globally-leading learning and teaching environment, and an excellent student educational experience. She studied Medicine in Utrecht, received a Master’s degree in Public Health at the Yale School of Medicine in the US and earned her PhD degree at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

She held the Netherlands’ first professorial chair for Midwifery Studies at the Amsterdam Medical Center and a chair in Child Public Health at Leiden University Medical Center. She was Vice-Rector for Education and Diversity at Leiden University from 2011 to 2016.

Professor Buitendijk is Chair of the League of European Research Universities’ (LERU) Steering Group for Learning and Teaching and is co-author of the 2014 LERU Advice Paper 'Online Learning at Research Intensive Universities'.

Dilly Fung, UCL

Dilly Fung is Professor of Higher Education Development and Academic Director of the Arena Centre for Research-Based Education at UCL. A Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, she leads a series of ambitious initiatives designed to connect student learning with research at UCL and beyond. Her recent open-access monograph, A Connected Curriculum for Higher Education, explores the unity of research and teaching in curriculum design. Other recent work includes an analysis of ways in which job families and career opportunities are changing in research-intensive institutions (Fung and Gordon 2016), and a position paper by the League of European Research Universities (LERU) looking at educational excellence in Europe’s leading research-intensive universities (Fung, Besters-Dilger and van der Vaart 2017). Professor Fung speaks regularly in the UK and internationally on these themes.

Didi Griffioen, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Didi Griffioen is Programme Leader of the university-wide strategic Research into Education programme at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. The programme works with all 70 undergraduate and 20 master tracks. As higher education researcher, change manager and trained philosopher, she leads a series of ambitious initiatives to change Amsterdam UAS from a former teaching-only to a research-and-teaching university. In all her work and research in policy and academic development she brings together the different perspectives of education to provide better insight in how research in education can help to educate futures professionals. She actively shares this approach by creating local, national and international networks around this topic and by giving presentations regularly in The Netherlands and internationally.

Mick Healey, Higher Education Consultant & Emeritus Professor, The University of Gloucestershire

Professor Mick Healey was Director of the Centre for Active Learning, a nationally funded Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, until 2010. He is currently a Visiting Professor at University College London and The Humboldt Distinguished Scholar in Research-Based Learning at McMaster University, Canada. He was one of the first people in the UK to be awarded a National Teaching Fellowship and to be made a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. He received a SEDA@20 Legacy Award for Disciplinary Development in 2013 and in 2015 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. Mick was co-editor of the International Journal for Academic Development (2010-13) and is currently Inaugural Senior Editor International Journal for Students as Partners. He is often asked to act as an advisor to projects, universities and governments on aspects of teaching and learning, including the Canadian Federal Government and the League of European Research Universities.

Philippa Levy, The University of Adelaide

Philippa joined the University of Adelaide as Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Learning) in April 2015. She previously was Deputy Chief Executive, and Director of Academic Practice, of the UK’s body for the enhancement of learning and teaching in higher education, the Higher Education Academy (HEA). At the HEA she led national enhancement strategy and services, including commissioned educational research, across all academic disciplines and in a range of thematic areas such as employability, internationalisation, student retention and success, flexible learning, online learning and ‘students as partners’. Phil joined the Higher Education Academy in 2012, seconded from the University of Sheffield where she continued part-time in her position as Professor of Learning and Teaching Enhancement in Higher Education, based in the Information School (iSchool).

Simon Marginson, UCL

Simon Marginson is Professor of International Higher Education at the IOE, UCL's Faculty of Education and Society, and Director of the ESRC/HEFCE Centre for Global Higher Education. He is also Joint Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education. His work focuses on international and global aspects of higher education across the world, and higher education and inequality. Simon’s recent book, Higher Education and the Common Good, was published by Melbourne University Publishing in December 2016.

Jenny Marie, UCL

Jenny Marie leads UCL’s flagship student engagement initiative, UCL ChangeMakers, which supports students and staff to work in partnership to enhance the student learning experience at UCL, particularly towards a research-based education. She has led UCL’s part of the UK’s REACT project, focusing on how to engage ‘hard to reach’ students; and she provides pedagogic advice to UCL’s Engineering Faculty, including its Integrated Engineering Programme. Jenny has a background in history of biology and has worked in professional development for over 10 years.

Emily Power, McMaster University

Emily is an undergraduate student at McMaster University. She is in her final year of study in McMaster’s interdisciplinary Arts and Science programme, with a focus on critical human geography. She is a student partner in McMaster’s MacPherson Institute for Leadership, Innovation, and Excellence in Teaching and has contributed to research on student-staff partnership in research, curriculum design, and pedagogic consultancy. She is also the founding editor of Compass, the McMaster University Undergraduate Journal of Geography and Earth Sciences.

Pascale Quester, The University of Adelaide

Professor Pascale Quester is Deputy Vice-Chancellor & Vice-President (Academic). She was the Inaugural Professor of Marketing at the University of Adelaide, appointed in 2002. She then took on the role of Associate Dean of Research for the Faculty of the Professions. In 2007, she was appointed Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Professions, a role she held until her appointment as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Academic) at the University in 2011. In 2009, she was awarded the prestigious title of Distinguished Fellow of the Australia and New Zealand Marketing Academy and in 2012, was awarded the Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit), one of France's highest honours, in recognition of her contribution to higher education in both France and Australia. In 2015, she was awarded SA Telstra Business Women’s Award in the Government and Academic category.

Anthony Smith, UCL

Professor Anthony Smith was appointed Vice Provost (Education and Student Affairs) in 2012. He takes the strategic lead for all matters related to education at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and oversees the School of Laws, Arts and Humanities, and Social and Historical Sciences. Prior to his appointment at UCL he was Principal and Dean for six years of the School of Pharmacy, University of London. He is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. He is Chair of Trustees at Pharmacy Research-UK, a Trustee of Villiers Park Education Trust and a Governor of the Central London Colleges Group.

Sorana Vieru, National Union of Students

Sorana Vieru was the Vice-President (Higher Education) of the National Union of Students (NUS). Her work focused on campaigning for a more inclusive, liberated curriculum and higher education system, focusing on empowering students to work with their course leaders to make these changes. In addition, she has led NUS’ work on responding to the significant changes to quality in the sector, including running the Quality Doesn’t Grow on Fees and TEF Off campaigns. Before being elected to NUS, Sorana was the Postgraduate Education Sabbatical Officer at the University of Bristol Students’ Union, where she continues a PhD in Philosophy.

David Wilkinson, McMaster University

Professor David S. Wilkinson is Provost and Vice-President (Academic). He was the Dean of Engineering from 2008-2012 before assuming his current role. His work has been recognised through a number of prestigious awards. He was awarded the title of Distinguished University Professor at McMaster University in 2008. In 2009 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2010 as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering. He is the author of over 250 scientific publications, specialising in the mechanical behaviour of both metals and ceramics. He was the founding Director of the McMaster Centre for Automotive Materials and is Principal Investigator for the Initiative for Automotive Manufacturing Innovation (iAMi) – a $46M research collaboration.

Connecting Higher Education Series

The University of Adelaide will host the next event in the series, to be held in 2019.  For further details, please subscribe to the mailing list.  

To contact the organisers of Connecting Higher Education 2017, email: connectedcurriculum@ucl.ac.uk