UKFIET Retrospective – Keith Lewin 30th September, 2020

I have come to the end of my term in office as Chair of the UKFIET Trustees. At the recent Annual General Meeting the Trustees welcomed Dr Susy Ndaruhutse as the new Chair. At the time of this transition it is appropriate to put on the record how much UKFIET has achieved over the last six years since I joined the Trustees. Highlights include three very successful conferences, G(E)MR and World Development Report launches, Early Career Development events and many other bespoke activities covering issues of concern for a raft of different special interest groups.

I have had the privilege of attending all the UKFIET conferences since the first Oxford Conference in 1989 which I remember well. Much has developed from modest origins over the last thirty years and much more is promised.  The success of the conferences and the growth in the number and range of events and activities has been the result of a very considerable amount of work by a large number of people who have worked on and with the Board of Trustees, Executive Committee, Conference Committees, UKFIET events and in the Secretariat. We should register a vote of thanks to all those that have made UKFIET so successful as it rises to new challenges. A summary of some key developments includes:

  • UKFIET has increased its level of activity from a small number of events (e.g. Conference and GMR launch in 2013) to a higher level of activities (e.g. 7 events in 2018 which was a non-conference year). UKFIET has been the first choice launch partner in the UK for the dissemination of the Global Education Monitoring Report.
  • Since 2013/14 the UKFIET Conference has grown in size from 529 delegates to 691 and the proportion of females has increased from 58% of the total to 62%.
  • The Trustees and Executive have become more diverse as new members have been recruited.
  • An engagement Fellow has been appointed to develop of the website and we have a much increased visibility on social media. The website now contains a rich and dense mosaic of contributions with blogs and news items that embraces:
    • TWITTER: We now have 3,342 Followers, an increase of 600 since the start of 2020. It was 1,800 at the start of 2019 and 1,100 at the start of 2018.
    • LINKEDIN: We now have 934 Followers. Many more people interact with our postings but these are the individuals who follow. Half of these were gained in 2020.
    • FACEBOOK: 2,795 Followers
    • BLOG POSTS: We have published 200 blogs this year to date. Many contributions have related to COVID-19.  
    • INSTAGRAM: We are developing this platform.
  • The bursary scheme has evolved from its origins as the Jeremy Greenland Memorial fund to an integral part of the UKFIET with a ring fenced budget which is now replenished from a voluntary levy system of 5% on conference fees, from donations and an UKFIET subsidy. The fund is on its way to becoming self-sustaining. The scheme provides between 20 and 30 grants and fee waivers to conferees who have papers accepted at the UKFIET conference and who would otherwise find it difficult to take part. The great majority are from the Global South.
  • UKFIET has developed its facilitation of Early Career Professionals starting in 2017 with a dedicated event supported by member organisations which has proved very popular. This constituency is part of the UKFIET network and now has a representative on the Executive Committee.
  • UKFIET administration and financial management has been consolidated into a single position of Programme Manager with many benefits for efficiency and effectiveness.
  • We have overhauled our governance and updated our Operational Guidelines to reflect changing circumstances as part of our commitment to transparent practices and the responsive development of the UKFIET.
  • We have maintained a healthy financial balance sheet as we have increased our volume of activities. We have increased our reserves from about £130k in 2013 to about £200K in 2020. This is enabling UKFIET to be resilient in the face of current uncertainties and provides a buffer whilst the impact of COVID-19 is managed into the future. It will allow UKFIET to support a vibrant programme of activities even if UKFIET 2021 has to be organised as a virtual conference.

Members of the Executive Committee, the Conference Committee, the Trustees and event organisers give their time and expertise pro-bono and play many different roles. This makes the various achievements of the organisation even more impressive and illustrative of UKFIET’s broad appeal and the commitment of its members to its goals and future development.  

As we move forward in uncertain times all UKFIET members and contributors are to be applauded for sustaining an effective public benefit organisation with a commitment to education and development, and the free exchange of ideas. The UKFIET has a resilient and independent foundation to curate its unique contributions to the next Development Decade. It has been my privilege to help it on its way and I look forward to enjoying future UKFIET events.


Prof. Keith Lewin

 Outgoing Chair of UKFIET Trustees