ABS hosts biggest ever Annual Conference: our review plus links to videos

ABS hosts biggest ever Annual Conference: our review plus links to videos

Our annual conference welcomed 180 delegates over a two day period and offered attendees the opportunity to discuss the challenges and potential solutions to the changing disruptive environment within which business schools are operating.

Videos of the speeches are available now 

The conference opened with a welcome from our new Chief Executive, Anne Kiem. Association of Business Schools’ Chairman and Dean of Business & Economics  at Loughborough University, Professor Angus Laing, highlighted the current successes of British business schools and existing challenges in the form of online learning, increasing student expectations and global competition. Professor Laing reiterated the importance of delivering value and asked business schools to be innovation generators by moving forward with transformative agendas.

In a keynote speech Liam Byrne MP, Shadow Universities Minister, backed business schools’ role in economic growth and hinted at stimulating a step change in inter-disciplinary courses through HEFCE. “Our higher education system should be preparing students to face the complex, overlapping challenges of the 21st century. That means ensuring our universities are offering more inter-disciplinary courses. So we’re going to be looking closely at driving more innovation in the way we provide higher education and building a stronger commissioning role for HEFCE. But innovation also requires businesses to play a proactive role in shaping university courses. That presents a big opportunity for business schools to move centre stage in the higher education debate and the growth agenda.”

Watch Liam Byrne’s speech on Policy Review TV 

A number of speakers from the business community gave us their views. Santander’s Head of UK Banking Steve Pateman reiterated the importance of business schools as a driving force in local economies. “Business schools in 20 years must be more locally relevant and engaged. The ability to work globally will be as important in future as the ability to work locally was in the past. We need to find a way to create a generation who can think laterally which can be assisted by case study teaching.”

Head of PA Consulting's international service Paul Woodgates highlighted the changing relationship dynamics between universities, students and government and the implications to businesses. “The biggest threat to universities is not funding, tech or competition but irrelevance to a changing world.  Universities are becoming zombies and must adapt to survive.”

During the second day of the conference, delegates heard from a panel of students from the University of the West of England who had experienced new experimental models in teaching that incorporated entrepreneurial activities.

The Government was resepresented by the Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Neville-Rolfe DBE CMG, who remarked “There is no doubt that business skills are becoming increasingly important in the modern world. I encourage business schools to reach out to students and staff across their campuses and more broadly to the wider community. Using their expertise and engaging more individuals with enterprise and, for many, giving them the idea that setting up a business is a real opportunity.”

Closing the conference, Association Chair, Professor Angus Laing, summed up by looking ahead at the priorities for the business school sector “There is a collective need to work together in changing times and prepare our organisations for the future. As business schools, we should focus on our purpose for businesses, government, students and most importantly, society.”

Thank you for to all those who took part and attended. Next year’s conference will be in Manchester – the provisional dates are 9-10th November 2015.

To register your interest please email Melissa Jumbo on mjumbo@the-abs.org.uk