Promoting Wellbeing &
Vibrant Communities

Share best practice, case studies and practical strategies with leading international experts
British Medical Association, BMA House, 25th June 2019
Unrivalled professional development

We bring together leading international experts, policy leaders and sector colleagues to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the global Higher Education sector.

The 2019 theme is Promoting Wellbeing & Vibrant Communities. From sector policy and strategy to case studies on improving day-to-day student life, we showcase all things student living.

Excellent networking opportunities

The conference offers delegates fantastic opportunities to network with fellow professionals across the Higher Education, Accommodation, Student Experience, Support and Lifestyle sectors.

Meet colleagues drawn from fields including policy & strategy, mental health & wellbeing, marketing & sales, operations and investment to discover new connections, partnerships and opportunities. Delegates to the 2018 conference rated networking opportunities at the GSL conference ‘Outstanding’.

Share your expertise

There is no monopoly on good ideas, and we encourage any experienced individual, business or organisation to contribute to the conference.

You could prepare a presentation, share some research, run a workshop, or participate in a panel discussion. The GSL Conference is 100% content-led and places on the agenda are based purely on merit.

If you’d like to contribute, please download the submission template for guidance.

You may also want to consider sponsorship and exhibition opportunities. Express interest in speaking or sponsoring in 2020 here.

Want to speak or sponsor in 2020?

Headline Sponsors

Premium Sponsors

Yoyo logo
Fika App
National Student Housing Survey
Oxford University Press Epigeum

Media Partner





Industry Experts

Meet some of our 2019 inspirational speakers

David Willetts

Former Minister of State for Universities and Science

Lord Willetts will share his insights from government and opinions on current sector challenges.

    Kate McAlister

    Head of Student Welfare and Safeguarding @ Office for Students (OfS)

    Leading work to develop the OfS’s approach to ensure students have the best conditions to thrive.

    Anna Taylor

    Co-founder @ UK Student Climate Network

    As a co-founder of UKSCN, Anna is one of the leading figureheads of the student climate change protests.

    Peter Hedley

    Director, Student Affairs and Services @ University of Saskatchewan

    An experienced Student Affairs professional with a passion for fostering healthy and supportive learning experiences.

    Sarah Jones

    Project Director @ National Student Housing Survey

    Leading the National Student Housing Survey and PBSA focused research.

      Nick Bennett

      Co-Founder & CEO, FIKA

      On a mission to improve emotional health and fitness.

      Sharon Rankin

      Wellbeing Services Manager @ London Business School

      Experienced disability and wellbeing practitioner, with 15 years’ experience working in HE

      Sara Gallagher

      Head of Student Support @ Bath Spa University

      Leading a team of multi-disciplinary student affairs professionals and delivering core student-facing services.

      Stuart Jones

      Senior Partnership Development Manager @ Endsleigh Insurance

      Leading Endsleigh’s innovative student wellbeing proposition, centred around welfare and the student experience.

      Helen Balmer

      Brand & Marketing Director @ Lovehoney

      Leads the Content, Creative Services, Customer Care and Marketing teams globally.

      Arnold Ma

      Founder @ Qumin

      Arnold Ma is the founder of Qumin, a speaker, a writer, a technophile and a leading specialist in Chinese Digital Marketing.

      Sarah Gosling

      University Engagement Advisor @ YGAM

      Experienced Students’ Union and charity sector CEO, and a specialist in strategic projects and charity development

        David Johnson

        Product & Distribution Development Manager @ Endsleigh Insurance

        Leading Endsleigh’s new wellbeing proposition centred around welfare and student experience

        Sarah Canning

        Marketing Director @ Student Roost

        Sarah is helping to make Student Roost the player to watch in the student accommodation space.

        Mike Coxon

        Head of Student Accommodation @ The Student Room

        Helping building relationships between accommodation providers and the UK’s biggest online student community.

        Maths Mathisen

        CEO & Co-founder @ Hold

        Co-founder of Hold, the award-winning mobile marketing app to incentivise students to put the phone down.

        Richard Cook

        Online Community Manager @ Monzo

        Leading and growing the online community at one of the most exciting banks in the UK.

        Alex Carlton

        Founder / CEO @ Stryyk

        Launching Zero Proof Spirits in 2018. Alex has always had his finger on the pulse of the latest alcohol trends.

        Emma Leech

        Director of Marketing and Advancement @ Loughborough University

        Passionate, pragmatic and insanely curious, I love travel, people watching, story-telling and coffee.

        Alice Weston

        University Accommodation Manager @ University for the Creative Arts

        Alice manages the accommodation department at UCA and is responsible for halls of residence in Canterbury, Epsom, Farnham and

        Clare Bradshaw

        Executive Manager @ Unihealth

        Executive Manager of Unihealth – the health and wellbeing digital messaging programme for UK university students.

        Pete Marshall

        Head of Technology @ ASK4

        Pete will be sharing the results from exciting new research on student attitudes towards privacy.

        Dr Knut Schroeder

        GP and Senior Clinical Lecturer @ University of Bristol

        Developer of the 'Student Health App' and 'distrACT' app. Knut is passionate about improving students' health.

        Dr Denise Meyer

        Head of Wellbeing @ University Portsmouth

        Dr Denise Meyer, Chartered Counselling Psychologist, has worked in student wellbeing support for 22 years.

          Rebecca Courtaux

          Head of Student Support @ University Lincoln

          Responsible for the Advice Service, Student Funding Team, Student Support and a number of key front line services.

          Nadine Lee

          Former University Partnerships Director @ Campus Living Villages

          Led the strategic marketing at CLV and later was responsible for building and developing CLV's partner engagement strategy.

          Ben Cooke

          Research Director @ Red Brick Research

          Ben has led the development of the research team at Red Brick and has worked across the HE, Charity and Health sectors.

          Mike Wojcik

          CEO @ QMU Students’ Union & QMSU Services Ltd

          Mike is a seasoned professional within commercial, charitable and higher education sectors.

          Dr Michele W Milner

          Director of Learning and Wellbeing @ The Royal Veterinary College

          Extensive experience in the HE sector. Now leading a joined-up wellbeing approach at RVC.

          Jaki Booth

          Chief Executive @ University of Sheffield Students' Union

          An authority on all things Students' Unions and the driving force behind Sheffield SU's strategy and growth.

          Olivia Comben

          Research Manager @ Red Brick Research

          A wealth of experience working with universities, SU's, accommodation providers and charities.

          TOM WRIGHT

          Director of Digital Student Life @ University of Lincoln

          Leading University of Lincoln's innovative programme to deliver student collaboration via digital tools and channels.

          JENNY SHAW

          Student Experience Director @ Unite Students

          Pioneer of student experience and wellbeing initiatives at Unite Students, and helped establish the Unite Foundation.

          TIM DAPLYN

          Managing Director @ Red Brick Research

          Agency founder and respected international expert on student recruitment, experience, lifestyle and wellbeing.


          what people say

          The conference has been amazing, it has been a really good day and a fantastic opportunity to network. And all of the speakers have been brilliant.
          ANDREA PROCTORStudent Health and Wellbeing Manager @ Ulster University
          I’ve now got a list of about 6 things I need to do and I didn’t have that list when I came here this morning… It’s been one of the best quality conferences that I have been to in a long while!
          JAKI BOOTHChief Executive @ Sheffield Students Union
          Really useful. It’s great to be able to come away with an idea and think, yes, I can do that straight away.
          TOM WRIGHTDirector of Digital Student Life @ University of Lincoln
          The day was absolutely brilliant, exceptionally good quality speakers and sessions.
          BOBBI HARTSHORNEExternal Relations & Student Wellbeing @ GSA
          I thought the content was great… Bringing all that best-practice together was absolutely fantastic!
          PAUL WATSONOperations & Sales Director @ Liberty Living


          With a main stage plus 3 streams, workshops and networking opportunities, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

          Check our multi-ticket discounts and bring some colleagues to get the most from the day.

          Registration & Networking

          Refreshments will be provided while you catch up with colleagues and make new connections.

          Tim Daplyn, Managing Director, Red Brick Research

          Lord David Linsay Willetts, is an English Conservative Party politician, life peer, and academic. From 1992 to 2015, he was the Member of Parliament (MP) representing the constituency of Havant in Hampshire. He served as Minister of State for Universities and Science from 2010 until July 2014 and became a member of the House of Lords in 2015.

          He is currently a visiting professor at King’s College London where he works with the Policy Institute at King’s, a visiting professor at the Cass Business School, a board member of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and a visiting fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford. On 9 February 2018, the University of Leicester announced they had elected David Willetts as successor to Bruce Grocott to become their new chancellor.

          KEYNOTE - Lord David Willetts, Former Minister of State for Universities and Science

          UKSCN was set up by a small group of volunteers that were inspired by the powerful and direct protests made by young people against climate inaction across the rest of Europe. Anna Taylor, Co-founder of UK Student Climate Network and current A-Level student will share details on how the movement is a source of inspiration, empowerment and strength for young people. She will discuss international identity and how the movement has become a symbol for unity and global change. She will also discuss the role of activism and how it has helped to overcome personal wellbeing and mental health struggles.

          KEYNOTE - Anna Taylor Co-founder @ UK Student Climate Network

          Kate will examine the challenges around student wellbeing and mental health and OfS’s response in regulating at the sector level to support and challenge HE providers to drive further improvement in this area. The session will also discuss the aims and outcomes of the OfS Challenge Competition fund to drive improvements in mental health for students including examples of newly funded projects. The session will provide an understanding of ‘what works’ in student mental health and wellbeing.

          Kate McAlister, Head of Student Welfare and Safeguarding, Office for Students (OFS)
          - Refreshments -

          Leading international experts will share ideas and answer questions on the challenges and opportunities in student accommodation, and how strong communities can support wellbeing outcomes.

          GSA & The Student Housing Company

          This is the year when student wellbeing shoots up the agenda for private accommodation providers.

          In July, the British Property Federation will publish a good practice guide for student wellbeing in private purpose built student accommodation. The guide has been developed by experts from the PBSA, higher education and charitable sectors and will have the support of the DfE and Universities Minister.

          Drawing on student stories and sector cases studies, this session outlines the guide’s main recommendations and showcases existing good practice within the sector.

          Learning outcomes:
          For private accommodation providers, it gives an early insight into standards which are likely to be adopted into the National Code over the coming years, providing them with insight and recommendations into how they can meet these new standards.

          For universities, it outlines what they can now reasonably expect from their accommodation partners when it comes to student wellbeing, and shares good practice examples of partnership working between private accommodation providers and universities.

          Jenny Shaw, Student Experience Director, Unite Students

          Monzo have succeeded in creating a financial services brand that connects with young people, enabling them to build a vibrant online community of customers and champions.
          In this session you’ll learn what ingredients have gone into creating this success and draw lessons about how standing out from the crowd can make all the difference.

          Richard Cook, Online Community Manager, Monzo

          Tom will share examples of his and his students’ work, illustrating how universities can do more to address sensitive issues such as mental health, sexual harassment, alcohol & drugs misuse, and hate crime.

          Tom Wright, Director of Digital Student Life, University of Lincoln
          Rebecca Courtaux, Head of Student Services, University of Lincoln
          - Lunch & Networking -

          The breakout streams will rejoin the main stage for this closing panel session and Q&A exploring key insights and action points from the day.

          - Networking & Drinks -
          Case Study: Building students’ Emotional Fitness: making the case for prevention in student mental health

          Universities invest heavily in the reactive side of the mental health spectrum – but what more could we be doing on the preventative side, to help students build and maintain their Emotional Fitness?

          Fika’s Emotional Fitness app launched this February, aiming to mainstream Emotional Fitness across the UK’s student population.

          In this session, we will hear from Fika and two of its partner universities, Bath Spa University and London Business School, on what we can learn from sports and fitness culture when it comes to helping students maintain their emotional health, one emotional workout at a time. Delegates will hear first-hand about the emotional challenges facing students and universities today and how they differ vs previous generations, as well as learning what they can do to:

          – Shift the dial on mental health – transforming how society approaches, thinks about and talks about our emotional wellbeing
          – Borrow from sports & fitness culture to encourage Emotional Fitness across their student populations
          – Influence higher education policy and play a role in the future of student wellbeing
          – Play their part in helping to safeguard the wellbeing, relationships and careers of the next generation of talent

          Nick Bennett, Co-Founder & CEO, Fika
          Sharon Rankin, Wellbeing Services Manager, London Business School
          Sara Gallagher, Head of Student Support, Bath Spa University

          A case study about how the university accommodation team at University for the Creative Arts are using digital messaging to support student mental health and wellbeing. Explore how this approach can deliver flexible, ‘timed and personalised’ support for students through engaging visual content and effective signposting in order to promote positive wellbeing and tackle key barriers to student engagement with support services. Learn about the measurable impact of these interventions on student engagement rates and patterns of participation and how students using the programme this year are responding to and engaging with this approach.

          Learning outcomes:
          – How to use instant messaging as a preventative and early intervention mental health and wellbeing tool .

          – Hear how a digital messaging programme can enhance student’s sense of belonging – a key factor for retention rates and for wellbeing (combating loneliness and social isolation )

          – How to use behaviour change principles (nudge, normalise) and student-eye- level content to engage students with positive health content and increase the effectiveness of signposting to support services.

          – How digital messaging can be personalized for each HEI to reflect their calendar, culture and community.

          Clare Bradshaw, Executive Manager, Unihealth
          Alice Weston, University Accommodation Manager, UCA

          Mental health problems are on the rise at universities, and many student support teams are overwhelmed with demand. To engage with students early, prevent and manage mental health problems and provide support while students wait for an appointment (or in between appointments), many colleges and universities now use and recommend health apps that provide support within the safety and convenience of students’ mobile phones.

          But with hundreds of health and wellbeing apps out there (many of them being unverified and expensive) how can universities support teams choose between them?

          This session will shine a light on important issues to consider when choosing mental health apps for your institution. You will get tips on selecting apps that are safe and cost-effective – and that provide value for your students and your college or university.

          Learning outcomes:

          This session will provide answers to questions such as:
          • How can I choose between health and wellbeing apps – and what do I have to consider?
          • Where can I find safe and reliable mental health and wellbeing apps for my institution?
          • What health apps are out there that universities already use successfully?

          Dr Knut Schroeder, GP and Senior Clinical Lecturer, University of Bristol

          Launching brand new research into students and their attitudes to privacy

          Pete Marshall, Head of Technology @ ASK4

          With the pressures on young people to choose a new pathway which dictates a course, new city and accommodation, it’s no surprise 41% of current students rank the process of going to university the most anxious they’ve ever felt.

          Twenty years ago all of these decisions were made in isolation, and you would turn up to university without knowing anyone or much about where you’re relocating to.

          Now through online channels and social media and the youth market are drowning in information and proactively asking questions, reading reviews and making connections before arriving at university.

          Using insights from the UK’s largest online student community, The Student Room, this session will explore the power social platforms have and how accommodation providers can effectively leverage the right channels to build a thriving and positive community before they even move in.

          Mike Coxon, Key Account Manager, The Student Room
          Sarah Canning, Marketing Director, Student Roost
          Student choices that harm: how gaming and gambling affect student life

          Launching new research exploring student attitudes to gaming and gambling and their (lack of) digital resilience, this session will explore some of the undiscussable, and often unrecognised, impacts on student wellbeing and academic performance.

          YGAM partnered with Red Brick Research to do the first depth study into this area. The session will share the insight and through open discussion explore how we might respond as providers of student services and living.

          This session is particularly relevant to delegates wanting to explore hidden lifestyle choices of students and how we might support them better in future.

          Sarah, Gosling, University Engagement Advisor,YGAM
          Ben Cooke, Research Director, Red Brick Research

          STRYYK is a new innovative drinks brand offering zero-proof spirits that launched in Autumn 2018. Alex Carlton, Founder and CEO will discuss alcohol trends and the next generation. What do future students want behind the bar?

          Previously Alex founded Funkin Cocktails back in 1999. Funkin was created after identifying the growing trend for all natural, & fresh products in the cocktail market place. Funkin become the UK’s brand leader in cocktail purees and mixers and is available in over 30 countries globally with offices in London and Los Angeles, Alex exited Funkin in 2015 to AG Barr, owners of Irn Bru, Rubicon, Ka and Rock Star Energy Drink.

          Alex has always had his finger on the pulse and prides himself in being a forward thinker, a natural networker and a strategic consultant helping bring brands to life. Recent brands Alex has advised and / or invested include, ZigZag Teas, & Half Hitch Gin.

          Alex Carlton, Founder / CEO, STRYYK

          Digital addiction has become a big problem and the negative effects have begun to impact mental health and wellbeing. In this session, Math’s will explore how to encourage healthier relationships between students and technology.

          The idea behind Hold originated at Copenhagen Business School. Together with his class mates – Florian Winder and Vinoth Vinaya – Maths discovered the recurring issue of checking his phone while studying.

          The solution to their problem was Hold, an app to incentivise students to put the phone down. Hold quickly gained traction amongst students and brands in Norway. More than 50% of the student population are today Hold users, and they were just awarded mobile marketing product of the year, with brands such as Coca-Cola, Just Eat and 7-Eleven supporting their mission. Their UK journey has just started, but they’ve already on-boarded more than 250,000 students and brands such as Disney, Coca-Cola and VUE.

          MATHS MATHISEN, CEO & Co-founder @ Hold App

          Stuart Jones leads Endsleigh’s innovative student wellbeing proposition, centred around welfare and the student experience, including supporting the mental health provision.

          In this session, Stuart will share findings from a brand new piece of research on students.

          David Johnson, Product & Distribution Development Manager @ Endsleigh Insurance
          HELEN BALMER, Brand & Marketing Director, Lovehoney
          The role of wellbeing & community in university marketing and recruitment
          Emma Leech, Director of Marketing and Advancement, Loughborough University

          Ours for Life is Sheffield Students’ Union’s ambitious and innovative strategy. Two of its more intriguing features are that it has an 18 year lifespan and focuses its aspirations and vision on its student members not on the organisation itself.

          Jaki will share their journey to reach this framework and explore some of the ways this has shifted thinking and impact at Sheffield Students’ Union.

          Learning outcomes:
          Consider different ways of tackling organisational strategy. Reflect on how placing your key stakeholder at the heart might change what you do.

          Jaki Booth, Chief Executive, Sheffield Students Union

          Everyone knows that WeChat is one of, if not the most important channels for brands to connect with Chinese students. And most will be pushing out weekly content on WeChat, but is this enough? What more can we do to utilise WeChat’s full web of services?

          WeChat, which essentially started as an instant messenger app has grown exponentially and can now only be described as a “Social OS”. So, how can we leverage WeChat’s full eco-system (Mini-Programs, CRM, etc.) for acquisition, engagement and retention.

          This session will deep dive into the endless possibilities of the most popular platform in China and explore how to connect and build campaigns to attract Chinese students.

          Arnold Ma, Founder, Qumin

          The Welcome Ambassador programme at the University of Portsmouth has been praised by the Universities Minister and the Department for Education, as an example of good practice in supporting student transition. Unlike a traditional ‘buddy scheme’ the programme focuses on promoting connections and networks between new students during the pre-entry phase as well as the first week and months at University, with existing students trained as Welcome Ambassadors to act as role models and to facilitate conversations and connections.

          Co-presented by student Welcome Ambassadors, the session will outline the rationale behind the scheme and provide examples of how it aims to promote a sense of belonging for new students.

          Participants will have an opportunity to:
          • Consider the mindsets research focusing on promotion of belonging
          • Recognise the challenges in delivering a successful peer support scheme
          • Identify the benefits to all participating students of a Welcome Ambassador scheme
          • Reflect on possible applications in their own institution

          Dr Denise Meyer, Head of Wellbeing, University of Portsmouth
          Current Student Ambassadors
          11:30 - 13:00
          Implementing a Whole Campus Wellbeing Strategy

          Peter Hedley, Director of Student Affairs and Services, will share with us his insights and experiences three years into a transformative ‘whole campus’ strategy at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

          Peter will use his background in UK Higher Education to draw out the most relevant and transferable insights, highlighting the strategic decisions and the successes and failures they’ve had on their journey, and how this learning can be applied to your own organisation.

          This session is essential for anyone developing an integrated wellbeing strategy or looking for inspiration on how to bring organisations together to deliver change.

          Peter Hedley, Director of Student Affairs and Services, University of Saskatchewan

          Launching a new report exploring key insights and emerging trends from an analysis of a decade of data gathered through the National Student Housing Survey.

          This session will reflect on how the sector has transformed over the past 10 years, and highlights the emerging trends that signal the big challenges facing universities and accommodation providers over the next decade.

          This session is particularly suitable for anyone looking to build their knowledge of the sector or gain an strategic understanding of how demands for accommodation are likely to shift in the future.

          Sarah Jones, Project Director, National Student Housing Survey

          Students’ Unions are going through a period of some considerable stress.

          Financial distractions at NUS head office and series of disaffiliations have come hot on the heels of a revenue dip from Totum/Extra, declining student spending on leisure, and some painful block grant negotiations.

          Add in changes to the NSS with an increased emphasis on academic representation, and students’ unions are increasingly having to ask themselves tough questions about their core purpose and how best to deliver impact for their members.

          In this session we’ll draw on the latest round of national data from ThreeSixty – Red Brick’s surveying and benchmarking service for students’ unions.

          We’ll look at what the data tells us about just how distinct our student bodies really are, how well and how consistently are we delivering for them, and how can we turn that insight into strategies that really deliver?

          This interactive masterclass is perfect for students’ union professionals, or those working closely with them, who want to learn more about the underlying health of the sector and how colleagues are using benchmarking to identify strategic priorities for change.

          Zoe Revell, Associate Director , Red Brick Research
          Olivia Comben, Research Manager, Red Brick Research

          Agenda subject to change.

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          • BMA House, London, WC1H 9JP
          • +44 (0)203 488 0249
          • 09:30 - 17:00