2018 Mid conference plenary

Read an overview of the mid-conference plenary in 2018:

Thursday 28 June 2018, 3.45-4.45pm

Keynote speaker: Sir Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive, British Council

Chair: Dr Alastair Niven, Formerly Principal Cumberland Lodge and former Chair (1987-1992) of UKCISA’s Executive Committee/Board

‘Why mobility matters’

The world is a challenging, inter-dependant space and tomorrow’s young people, young learners and young leaders will need all the skills they can acquire to navigate an increasingly complex world. Sir Ciaran will outline some of these challenges, some of the ways in which British Council is helping to ‘change lives for good’ internationally, how and why the UK can and must continue to be a magnet for overseas study and why, at a time when the UK is adapting its place in the world, ‘mobility matters’ perhaps now more than ever before.


Sir Ciarán Devane became chief executive of the British Council in January 2015.

The British Council became a charity in 1940 to, in the language of the time, create a basis of friendly knowledge and understanding of Britain by making the most of the cultural resources of the country to create opportunities, to build connections, and to engender trust in the belief that this would make the world better, safer and more prosperous.

Ciarán has focused on aligning the British Council behind key themes important to the UK, demonstrating the contribution of cultural relations to the UK’s security, prosperity and influence, and strengthening the organisation’s capacity and capability across its network in over 100 countries.

Prior to his current role, Ciaran was chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support where he transformed the scale and impact of the charity (NGO) both as on its own and in collaboration with other organisations and raised its profile as an authoritative voice on cancer and health matters, leading to Macmillan being the UK public’s most respected NGO.

Ciarán was educated at University College, Dublin where he studied biochemical engineering after which he started his career in the chemical industry before coming a management consultant specialising in complex change programmes with companies such as AstraZeneca and RollsRoyce.

He holds a master’s degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University, Washington DC. Ciarán has also held non-executive roles of the boards of organisations ranging from small local charities to NHS England which commissions healthcare for the population on England.

Ciarán was awarded a knighthood in 2015 for his services to cancer patients.