ACU vice-chancellor summit 2024:

charting the future of higher education through funding, employability, excellence, and the digital frontier

VC Summit Web 3
15 May 2024
Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London, SW1H 9NH

Join us on 15 May for the ACU vice-chancellor summit 2024: charting the future of higher education through funding, employability, excellence, and the digital frontier - a series of strategic HE policy discussions with university vice-chancellors and ministers from across the Commonwealth.

This in-person event, open exclusively to ACU member vice-chancellors, will explore some of the most pressing issues facing universities and vice-chancellors today through a series of closed-door roundtables, covering topics including higher education funding, research management, and the implications of AI.

Outcomes from these dialogues will feed into the Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (CCEM) meeting in London on 16-17 May 2024. The ACU will be representing its members at CCEM through the new ACU-led Commonwealth Higher Education Taskforce.

The ACU vice-chancellor summit 2024 will provide an opportunity for attendees to contribute to high-level policy discussions and network with fellow vice-chancellors, policymakers and international higher education stakeholders from around the Commonwealth.

The ACU summit will open with a keynote speaker, followed by policy discussions and speakers throughout the day, culminating with an evening reception attended by Commonwealth, parliamentary and sector stakeholders. 

Please note that this is an in-person and by invitation only event. Unfortunately we are unable to offer financial support for travel, accommodation or visas. 

If you are an ACU member vice-chancellor and have not received your invitation, please contact:

Not a member of the ACU? Find out how to become a member

Conference themes

  1. Finance and funding: making the case for higher education funding 

Globally, the state of higher education funding is at a critical juncture, with many institutions grappling with financial challenges that impact their ability to provide quality education and research opportunities. Rising operational costs, technological advancements, and the increasing demand for skilled professionals underscore the pressing need for sustained and increased funding in higher education. Increasingly, there is an urgent need to demonstrate the value of higher education and drive social consensus of HE as a public good. This is crucial for nations to recognise the pivotal role of education in driving economic growth and societal progress and for HE institutions to secure additional funding. In this session, vice-chancellors will share insights, exchange best practice, and explore innovative approaches to navigating the funding landscape.  

 2. Nurturing future-ready graduates: advancing employability and skills in higher education 

Rapid technological advancements, coupled with the dynamic nature of the global job market, demand that educational institutions continuously adapt their curricula to align with evolving industry needs. The increasing complexity of global challenges, such as climate change and socio-economic disparities, also places pressure on universities to instil a broad range of skills, including critical thinking, adaptability, and intercultural competence. Balancing these multifaceted challenges requires a strategic and collaborative approach from universities to foster an educational environment that not only imparts disciplinary knowledge but also cultivates the versatile skill sets essential for graduates to thrive in an unpredictable employment market. In this session, vice-chancellors will discuss innovative approaches to curriculum development, blended learning, industry partnerships, skill-building initiatives and future skills requirements while addressing regional nuances and challenges to employability in diverse contexts.  

3. Fostering excellence: global perspectives on research management, collaboration and assessment  

The pursuit of research quantity with maintaining high quality poses a dilemma, intensified by the pressure to publish. Developing robust assessment frameworks that comprehensively gauge the impact of research remains a persistent challenge, as traditional metrics may not capture broader societal contributions. Moreover, achieving equity in research involves addressing disparities in access, resources, and opportunities. This session provides a platform for leaders to share global perspectives and innovative strategies aimed at enhancing research ecosystems within their institutions. Discussions will delve into effective collaboration models, research management practices, securitisation and holistic assessment frameworks. Through this dialogue, vice-chancellors will develop a shared vision for advancing the quality and impact of research initiatives and collaboration across diverse regional contexts.  

4. Navigating the digital frontier: digital access and artificial intelligence in higher education 

The rapid integration of AI into higher education requires institutions not only to adapt their curricula to incorporate cutting-edge technologies but also to address concerns related to data privacy, ethical AI use, and the potential for exacerbating existing socio-economic disparities. Faculty training and development has become critical in harnessing the full potential of AI for educating students and equipping them with the skills needed. Moreover, resources required to develop effective digital infrastructure and AI-integrated learning environments pose a challenge, especially for institutions operating within constrained budgets. In this session, vice-chancellors will explore ideas on leveraging technology to enhance educational accessibility, foster innovation, and address challenges unique to diverse regional contexts. 



  • Registration and networking (refreshments served) 
  • Welcome and keynote 
  • Policy dialogues - session one


  • Lunch and networking 
  • Afternoon keynote 
  • Policy dialogues - session two 
  • Plenary and close
  • Networking and break
  • Evening reception (17:30-20:00)
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