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Manchester Student Homes, in partnership with Queen’s University Belfast, hosts its biggest and best UKTGA Conference yet! Welcoming colleagues from across the UK and the United States, the United Kingdom Town Gown Association held its third Conference at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast on Monday 19th - Tuesday 20th November 2018. When Town met Gown

From Gown to Town

For the first time in the UK, Town and Gown officers had the chance to attain the Level 1 Certificate in ‘Town and Gown Relations’. This unique training session was delivered by Cooper Healey (Chair, UKTGA) and Poppy Humphrey (OffCampus Student Affairs Officer, Manchester Student Homes) who was the only practitioner to hold this certificate, delivered by the ITGA. Opening discussions saw colleagues consider both the positives and challenges in their off-campus communities, and share their experiences.

Delegates were invited to attend a reception at the illustrious Belfast City Hall on Sunday 18th November to mark the beginning of Conference. Belfast’s glorious Christmas lights had been switched on just in time for UKTGA 2018 (wasn't that kind?) which made the occasion somewhat of a spectacle!

Town Gown relations have entered into the academic sphere by pioneers such as Professor Steve Gavazzi, who presented his work on Town Gown relations and marriage analogies. The morning’s work was rounded off by Professor Darren Smith who discussed matters of studentification, de-studentification, and what is to come for both Town and Gown. Delegates were then invited to creatively demonstrate maps of Belfast City Hall their communities and produce their ideal community in 3D models. These ‘imaginariums’ saw Town meet Gown through Those who attended the Level 1 Certificate in ‘Town and sport, volunteering and educational initiatives. Gown Relations’ earlier that day were presented with their certificate at the reception by Cooper. The networking continued at the famous Crown Liquor Saloon.

Day One: Monday 19th November Delegates were welcomed to UKTGA 2018 by Cooper Healey and Councillor Nigel Murphy, Deputy Leader, Manchester City Council (Conference Chair).

Training delegates outside the Graduate School, Queen’s University Belfast

The UKTGA Conferences are an opportunity for colleagues working in an off-campus setting to share ideas, network and learn best practice. The UKGTA would like to acknowledge the support of our sponsors Belfast City Council, Campus Life, Student Roost, Sword Security, and Visit Belfast who contributed to the success of UKTGA 2018.

The UKTGA was delighted to welcome esteemed colleagues from Belfast to deliver key note addresses. Nigel Grimshaw MBE, Belfast City Council, took delegates through the evolution and progress of Belfast and the significance of Town Gown relations in this process. Professor Ian Greer, Vice-Chancellor, Queen’s University Belfast highlighted that social responsibility and partnership with Belfast City Council is key to the Queen's University Social Charter mission, and expressed his delight that Queen's community engagement was used as a model of best practice at the conference.

For more news and photos, keep up to date with UKTGA on Twitter @UKTGA and #UKTGA18


UKTGA 2018 had a phenomenal programme of events with sessions on a vast array of themes encompassing all areas of off-campus affairs. Highlights from Day One include Claire Bent and Kirsty Wade from University of Birmingham taking us through global approaches to community cohesion and their community living project. Further, Durham University and colleagues led the way with several sessions throughout Conference with themes of alcohol awareness, and combatting sexual harassment. Jo Cox-Brown delivered a fantastic session on safety in the night time economy which sparked many interesting conversations, and Student Roost took delegates on a mobile tour of their stunning new student halls in Belfast City centre.

Day Two: Tuesday 20th November Tuesday opened with Simon Horniblow, Managing Director, Campuslife, taking delegates back to university in 2018 for a better understanding of Generation Z. UKTGA Steering Group members delivered three brilliant sessions with their regional partners; Melanie Futer MBE delved into the success of HMO licensing in Nottingham with Aran Hennessey from Nottingham Council. Katie Latchford presented on Canterbury’s partnership approach to ‘Zero Tolerance’ with colleague Suzanne Ridley and Amanda Jackson explored University of Leeds’ practice of successful student engagement, in tune with the student lifecycle. Representatives from across Belfast’s HE institutions attended Conference, and the UKTGA was pleased to welcome Professor Duncan Morrow from Ulster University who delivered a insight into building University-community relationships in Belfast.

Town and Gown representatives at Riddel Hall, Queen’s University Belfast

The UKTGA held a fantastic gala dinner on Monday evening and was pleased to welcome local graduate musicians Jack Warnock and Eimhéar Mulholland to perform. Following the dinner, Rory Cunningham (UKTGA South West Representative) introduced the new UKTGA Community Award. Rory outlined the volume and quality of nominations that had been received from across the UK for a range of fantastic initiatives. The UKTGA was thrilled to award Newcastle University and Newcastle Students’ Union for their ‘Anti-Social Behaviour Working Group’ which has brought much success in facilitating community cohesion and community living. Queen’s University Students’ Union received came highly commended for their ‘Homework Club’ that welcomed local children to the university.

The Conference offered delegates extended sessions to allow further exploration of key issues. Of note, Michael Akin and Jevin Hodge from Link Strategic Partners, based in the US, delivered a thorough and thought provoking voyage into social media and its ability to engage and connect with both students and long-term residents. With a focus on communities within communities Barry Wall, Polkadot Consultants, offered a unique session that explored the Trans journey and understanding this experience.

UKTGA Steering Group

The UKTGA is elated to have delivered such a phenomenal Conference! Thank you to our speakers, delegates and the wonderful QUB staff! Below is a sample of our feedback ‘As I am new to the sector, it has been invaluable to attend this Conference!’ ‘Excellent reflection on key issues.’ ‘It was useful to discover best practice at other universities and to network.’ ‘Invaluably valuable - many new contacts made!’

Newcastle Students’ Union Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union

‘The conference offered practical solutions to common issues.’ ‘Each session was extremely thought provoking!’

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UKTGA Conference 2018  

A roundup of the UKTGA Conference 2018 that was the biggest and best yet! Hosted by Queen's University Belfast, the UKTGA welcomed over 120...

UKTGA Conference 2018  

A roundup of the UKTGA Conference 2018 that was the biggest and best yet! Hosted by Queen's University Belfast, the UKTGA welcomed over 120...

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