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The UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education.

Speakers’ Biographies

Speaker biographies are included below and can be downloaded at the bottom of the page.

Hitanshi Badani (she/her) is a graduate from the University of St Andrews with an MA in International Relations and Psychology. She is also the incoming Director of Education at the St Andrews Students’ Association – where she will serve as a full-time sabbatical officer representing student interests within university-wide committees and processes of educational policy development. In 2022-23, she served as Deputy Student Lead on the leadership group of Enhancement Themes Scotland – which works towards improving the student learning experience through sector-wide, national-level collaborations. Hitanshi is particularly interested in discourses on decolonising educational structures and curricula. 

Jane Baston is the Co-Chair of the Young Greens, the youth and student wing of the Green Party, and currently works for a Students’ Union. After re-starting the Green Students’ Committee in 2020, she’s spent the last 4 years organising and campaigning with young people and students across England and Wales on educational, cultural and social issues.

Matthew Brooker is a final-year Economics student at Durham University and the President of the Durham Union Society, Durham’s largest and oldest student society. Matthew is a Conservative Party campaigner in London and the North East.

Amira Campbell is President of the University of Birmingham’s Guild of Students and, from July 2024, the incoming NUS UK President. Her term as President at Birmingham has prioritised campaigning for improved hardship support for those on the NHS bursary, student workers’ rights lobbying, and organising a Mayoral Election Student Hustings across West Midlands universities. Amira has experience in anti-racism liberation organising, and was previously the Black Voices community organiser for a Black student campaign on campus, has engaged with the NUS as an observer at National Conference 2023 and previously as the black student delegate at the Liberation Conference. She is a trustee for the Birmingham Race Impact Group, and has held a plethora of roles in the arts, working with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the European String Teachers Association.   

Professor Harriet Dunbar-Morris is Pro Vice-Chancellor Academic and Provost, Professor of Higher Education, University of Buckingham. In this role, Harriet is responsible for providing leadership for the academic and research strategies of the university. She is a leading expert in innovative and effective support for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience. To ‘make a significant difference to students’ experience of higher education’, she provides the environment for positive institutional change, and works with academic and professional services staff and the student body in an evidence-based, inclusive and egalitarian way. After completing her Higher Education in France, culminating in a PhD from the University of Toulouse, and following a postdoc in Psycholinguistics, Harriet returned to the UK and undertook research in Higher Education at the University of Oxford. Post-Oxford, Harriet held positions at UCAS, the 1994 Group, and the universities of Bath, Bradford and Portsmouth. See for more detail. Harriet posts on X as @HE_Harriet.

Professor Charles Egbu is Vice Chancellor, Leeds Trinity University, UK. He was, formerly, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education & Experience) at the University of East London. Before then, he was the Dean of School of the Built Environment and Architecture, London South Bank University, UK, where he held the Chair in Project Management and Strategic Management in Construction. He has also held academic posts at University College London (UCL), University of Salford, Leeds Metropolitan University, and Glasgow Caledonian University, UK. He has over 30 years of experience in the higher education sector and was formerly a Member of the Peer Review College of the UK Economic and Social Sciences Research Council (ESRC), and a member of the Peer Review College of the UK  Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). He sits on a number of Boards, including:  MillionPlus; Universities; Yorkshire Universities; Leeds Learning Alliance (LLA); University Vocational Awards Council (UVAC), and the Cathedrals Group of Universities, UK. 

Rob Ford is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Manchester, working broadly in the areas of public opinion, electoral choice and party politics. He came to public attention initially through the popular books Sex Lies and the Ballot Box, and Revolt on the Right, a timely analysis of the rise of UKIP and the fundamental shift in British politics around Brexit. Since then, Rob’s profile has grown exponentially, with frequent broadcast appearances, popular broadsheet opinion articles, and a large social media following. He is now in high demand from any group that wants to understand the direction of travel in British politics and the mood of the British public, whether they are in government, lobbying, business, finance, or the third sector.

Josh Freeman is the Policy Manager at HEPI. Previously he worked as a Maths and Politics teacher in London on the Teach First programme. He has since completed a Master’s degree in Global Governance and Diplomacy at the University of Oxford. At HEPI, he has recently completed reports on student debating unions and student minimum income needs. His role in HEPI’s policy team focuses on policy research and managing the HEPI blog.

James Gray is the Chief Executive at Kortext. He has over 25 years’ experience as CEO and director within the digital content industry. He started Kortext in 2012 and in just five years grew the company to be the UK’s leading digital textbook and learning platform for higher education. Kortext is the leader in digital textbook solutions for universities and publishers and is leading the HE sectors transition to digital learning. Prior to starting Kortext, James was the owner of Coutts Information Services, which he sold to Ingram Group, where he became CEO of Ingram Digital based out of the USA.

Leo Hanna is Executive Vice President, UK at TechnologyOne. Executive Vice President, UK. Leo joined TechnologyOne in 2021 to drive the continued growth and success of the UK region. Leo draws on more than 20 years’ experience building and leading sales, marketing and professional services organisations in some of the world’s leading technology and Software as a Service firms, including Oracle, Symantec and Microsoft Corporation. Most recently, Leo was EVP International for Corporate Visions, where he oversaw customers and operations in both EMEA and APAC. Prior to this, Leo led Saba Corporation’s EMEA operations as Senior Vice President & General Manager for the region. Under his leadership, the company made the successful transition from a software licensing company to a cloud services provider.

Paul Johnson has been director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies since 2011. He is a columnist for The Times, and is a regular contributor to other broadcast and print media. He is a visiting professor in the UCL Policy Lab and at the UCL department of economics. Paul published the Sunday Times bestseller Follow the Money in 2023.

Jess Lister is Associate Director at research and policy consultancy Public First, where she leads on higher education projects in the UK and overseas. Before joining Public First she worked in various roles at the University of Cambridge, with a focus on admissions, widening participation, and public affairs.

Janey Little is the Chair of the Young Liberals, the youth and student wing of the Liberal Democrats. She is also Vice Chair of Liberal Democrat Women and a member of the party’s Federal Policy Committee.

Jonathan Neves is Head of Business Intelligence and Surveys. He joined Advance HE in 2015, bringing with him 16 years’ experience in customer insight and market research. Jonathan graduated from the University of Liverpool with a degree in Geography, and is a full member of the Market Research Society. Heading up the insights and student surveys portfolio at Advance HE, Jonathan is co-author of the Advance HE / HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey report, and is responsible for the overall strategy for the UK Engagement Survey as well as the Postgraduate Taught and Research Experience Surveys (PTES and PRES).

Rose Stephenson is Director of Policy and Advocacy at HEPI. Rose has worked in several aspects of education: online learning, outdoor education and as a teacher and Head of Science in secondary education before moving to the higher education sector. Rose held multiple roles at the University of Bath, overseeing policies and projects relating to the student experience. Rose’s role at HEPI focusses on policy; research; analysis; and creating policy recommendations.

Lewis Warner is the Vice Chair of Labour Students, and has previously held roles in the Young Fabians, sitting on the London Regional Executive Committee and chairing the LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Group. He has recently finished studying a degree in Politics at King’s College London.

Daniel Webb is the ISV Partnerships Lead at Microsoft UK. Having built over 20 years experience of launching and scaling hardware and software eco-systems at brands such as Samsung and Google, Daniel now leads Microsoft’s engagement with Partners to deliver impact across the Public Sector.