june, 2020

18jun9:45 am12:30 pmManaging Post COVID-19 Financial Stress in Higher EducationShared advice for Governors and Senior University Managers

Event Details


COVID-19 has hit universities in myriad ways.

Student experience has been transformed overnight; the international student market is heading for collapse; domestic student deferrals have surged; institutions are incurring massive additional costs to furlough staff and develop campus safety and security measures whilst losing almost all non-student related income for the foreseeable future.

All of this comes on top of the already uncertain future threatened by the Brexit process.

Prior to COVID-19 the higher education sector was already enduring a torrid time, with universities under the spotlight for unconditional offers, senior management pay and tuition fees. What is the future of the Post-18 review of education and funding? Philip Augar, author of the report has already abandoned his recommendation on fees saying “Covid-19-related disruption may now mean that such a fee cut would be too destabilising”. Has the conditional/unconditional offer debate also been put to rest?

University leaders and board members face a series of immediate financial and strategic choices with implications for the future shape of their institutions, the sector, and the UK economy.

This private live streamed event will offer the latest advice and guidance to senior university managers on how to best navigate the coming storm facing the higher education sector.

Register for the live stream and on demand video box set here


Speakers include:
  • Glynne Stanfield, Partner and Head of UK Governance and External Relations practice and International Education practice, Eversheds Sutherland
  • Julie Mercer, Partner, Cairneagle Associates LLP
  • Lord Roger Liddle, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Lancaster University
  • Neil Stewart, Editorial Director, The Education Studio
  • Professor Andy Westwood, Vice Dean for Social Responsibility, University of Manchester, former government adviser
  • Rt Hon Charles Clarke, former Education Secretary

Viewing fees:

Anonymous live stream and on demand access: £75.00 + VAT

Participatory live stream and on demand access: £80.00 + VAT

Team Registrations ticket (up to 10 viewers): £240.00 + VAT

Register for the live stream and on demand video box set here


Topics this programme will explore:

The government’s financial support measures and the OFS strictures on recruitment remove the status quo as an option for many, if not most, universities’ business plans.

In 2013 the Treasury put an NHS Trust into administration, requiring other NHS trusts to take over patients and functions demonstrating that no public organisation should take its future as secure and in the process the Treasury has developed a playbook on how to manage such an institutional “failure regime”.

This programme will take participants through an informed discussion with a panel of experts to explore questions senior university managers and governors should be asking:

  • About the financial resilience of their institution
  • The modelling which has been done
  • Whether the stress testing has been accepted by their bank and other financial arrangements
  • What range of restructuring options they have to ensure sustainable courses and funding going forward?
  • How these choices are shaped by a vision for the institution and its role or by immediate events
  • What liabilities governors and senior executives face and the parameters of their duties

What structures and strategies should finance, and legal teams provide a prudent board of governors and vice chancellors now to be ready to deal with any range of challenging futures?

Register for the live stream and on demand video box set here

Programme Agenda:

09.45                Chair’s introduction
Neil Stewart, Editorial Director, The Education Studio

10.00                Facing up to the university challenge
Rt Hon Charles Clarke
, Co-author, The University Challenge; former Education Secretary

10.20                Signs of Stress
Julie Mercer
Partner, Cairneagle Associates, LLP

  • What to watch out for and act on
  • Who is watching – reporting requirements?
  • The history of failures and miscalculations
  • Defining sustainability

10.40                Preparations for restructuring
Glynne Stanfield, Partner and Head of Governance, International Education Practice, Eversheds Sutherland

  • Having student dispersal plans in order
  • Order of creditors – students and debentures first?
  • Staff and suppliers – TUPE and staff issues
  • What is protected in law and legislation?
  • Executive accountability

11.00                Panel discussion

11.15                Comfort and Refreshment break

11.30               Panel discussion: Restructuring, mergers, avoiding failure, online futures
Rt Hon Charles Clarke
, Co-author, The University Challenge; former Education Secretary
Lord Roger Liddle
, Chair of Council, Lancaster University
Professor Andy Westwood
, Vice Dean, University of Manchester
Glynne Stanfield
, Partner and Head of Governance, International Education Practice, Eversheds Sutherland
Julie Mercer
, Partner, Cairneagle Associates, LLP

  • Anatomy of failure
  • Where it starts and how it might start
  • The trigger
  • How to avoid failure
  • How decision-making changes are taken
  • Who is in charge?
  • What roles come into play?

12.00                Panel discussion: Accountability 

  • Hindsight on strategy
  • What preparation protects students?
  • Preserving sector value and reputation
  • Responses to government incentives and policy
  • Meeting expectations of financial management
  • Meeting expectations of university leadership
  • Meeting expectation of local and regional impact
  • Understanding personal liabilities and risk
  • Comprehending market failure or management failure

12.30                Close of conference

Online participants have the option to join the live stream anonymously or can participate and engage with fellow viewers and speakers by submitting questions before and during the live stream.

Post event a video boxset of all speaker presentations will be available to view on demand and to share with your colleagues and team members.

Who is this programme for?
  • Vice Chancellors
  • University Registrars, Secretaries & Legal Directors
  • Finance Directors
  • Pro Vice Chancellors
  • Chairs of University Governors
  • University Governors
  • Student Union Presidents and Managers
  • Directors of Estates
  • Directors of Strategy
  • Directors of Marketing / Communications
  • Public Affairs Advisors
  • Senior Academics and Senate members


Purpose of the programme:
  • To address the difficult questions that universities need to ask right now
  • To provide informed, insight to university governors and university leaderships on financial risk management and help benchmark their plans and preparedness.
  • To advise university suppliers.
  • To highlight what governors and HE managers should look out for and to question options and structures to put in place.
  • To explore what duties lie where between management and governors and boards, what actions can be taken and what routes and support are available.
  • To provide undiluted expert live, live and online for time poor senior executives.
  • To help speed up the preparation and response planning at a time of financial pressure.
  • To add informed benchmarking to the arrangements universities and HE providers are expected to have in place for financial distress and the protection of students.
  • To map the implications and obligations on accountable HE managers and governors.
  • To build understanding of the need for decisive action and live options to protect students on courses.
  • To explore what happens if financial stress reaches a critical point and what options are available.

These and other questions raised by the audience will be explored by the panel and speakers.


(Thursday) 9:45 am - 12:30 pm