Previous Conferences

University of California San Diego, San Diego, 2023

'On The Edge...'

The University of California San Diego was honored to host the 2023 Lean in Higher Education International Conference, October 18-20, 2023. UCSD brought our Lean HE global community back together in person for the first time in four years! Participants came together "On the Edge..." in our beautiful facility, The Robert Paine Scripps Forum, part of the UC San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The Conference included;

University of Melbourne, Australia, 2022

Lean + Design

"A fantastic conference, masterfully organised by the University of Melbourne"

As hosts of this year’s wholly online conference, the team at the University of Melbourne were excited to deliver a virtual event that inspired, motivated, challenged... and had you dancing in your chair, no matter where in the world you might be dialing in from! This was a chance for our global community to again come together and grow in Lean thinking, action and delivery.

This year’s theme – Lean + Design – laid down many opportunities for discovery and the chance to create connections across suburbs, cities and countries.

Our conference delivery partner is helped to craft a polished online experience for all our event attendees and presenters, ensuring content was accessible, relevant and delivered in a way that elevated our engagement with Lean thinking to a new level.

It was great to meet together in October – albeit virtually – and continue on this continuous improvement journey together again. 

University of Strathclyde,  UK, 2021

Collaborate, Innovate and Celebrate 

Our conference in October 2021, was fully online using a professional online conference platform. We were excited about the opportunities that this created and also the fact that it made our conference more accessible to colleagues from around the global Lean HE community, who would otherwise have been unable to attend. This very much aligned with our conference theme of Collaborate, Innovate and Celebrate and truly reflects the global nature of Lean HE.

We recorded the live sessions which are available on the conference platform for attendees to access, and now can be accessed in our YouTube channel here.

The University of Strathclyde has a long standing commitment to continuous improvement, which is underpinned by their University Values of being People-Oriented, Ambitious, Bold, Collaborative and Innovative. These values are also very much aligned to the two pillars of Lean: Respect for People and Continuous Improvement.

The event delivered an outstanding experience for all conference delegates, welcoming us virtually to the University of Strathclyde and the wonderful city of Glasgow in October 2021.

Edinburgh Napier University, UK & The University of Canberra, Australia, 2020

Lean HE Global Festival

Get the commemorative programme here

In 2020 we did things differently. We host an annual, global conference, connecting higher education improvement from around the world and supporting the continuous improvement of our own community. We weren't able to deliver a face-to-face conference in 2020 - so we hosted an online, free, global festival instead! 

Check out what it looked like behind the scenes in this amazing tweet from Kate Aylemore!

From 19-23 October 2020, our global community of practice shared in 100 unique events. We're so grateful to our session leads for generously sharing their stories, learning and time zones with us.

Check out the festival materials archive here 

Our leads have also recorded their sessions where they could, so:

Check out recordings of sessions here 

We encourage you to share your own learning, take-aways or how you've applied what you learnt in these sessions via our Linked In page, our Twitter account, using #leanhe or by saying hello.

The University of Michigan, USA, 2019

Lean Forward: Connect. Inspire. Advance.

Lean Forward: Connect. Inspire. Advance.

Date: November 6th - 8th 2019

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan. 

The University of Michigan and Lean HE welcomed 203 attendees to beautiful Ann Arbor, affectionately known as “Tree Town.”  Attendees told us:

"This is my first time to the Lean Conference, it has been an awesome experience, meeting so many motivated like-minded people."

"I feel re-freshed and ready to bring new energy back to my team - I am a convert."

"This conference feel different - it feels like a community of people who really care."

"Being able to pick up the phone for advise, support and ideas is just priceless"

"I had no idea how many universities were involved and can’t wait to help set up a group in my own town."

"The key-note speakers were awesome, I would never had the opportunity to hear these people without the Lean HE conference."

"I made so many new friends and a found a network I never knew existed"

Since the term “lean” was first coined over 30 years ago, this way of thinking and acting has spread across industries and from peer to peer, as we share ideas and take advantage of many lessons learned. We’ve come so far! 

Lean HE’s mission began 5 years ago, at a conference at Coventry University in the UK, with hopes to connect lean practitioners in Higher Ed, to share experiences about how they’ve made an impact, to learn from each other what works in a university setting, and then use that knowledge to make things better for those we serve:  the students, the staff, the faculty, and our communities.

Since then, the Lean HE network has grown to a community of over 2,200 global practitioners, reaching across three continental divisions.  Looking at everything we know now, this conference was the start of the next big step! We saw opportunities to make things more effective, more efficient, and help keep the transformative power of Higher Ed accessible to all. We shared our latest insights and methods and how they’re moving us forward. We learned what others are trying and sparked innovations we can all use.

Universities from all around the globe joined together and found warm support and inspiration for their next breakthrough.  

From this awesome conference we invite you to Lean Forward and help us go further together.

UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø, Norway, 2018

Everyday lean – from your story to my story

Date: 31 October - 2 November 2018

Location: Tromsø, Norway

Conference materials available here // Find out more (conference website)

"Great community, great conference, great courage to make universities better places to learn and work"

We learned from sector and world leaders in Lean thinking. We took away practical and theoretical approaches to use from day one to improve our universities. All in beautiful Tromsø.

How do we get to a place where we do lean every day? 

Where continuous improvement is a natural part of everyone’s jobs, not in addition or on top of it?

This year’s conference focused on implementing continuous improvement work everyday. It was about making sustainable changes, involving senior leaders and changing cultural habits.

The presentations and different sessions addressed this theme in different ways with different perspectives.

The main keynote speaker drew the big picture of how organisations can work towards flow efficiency in order to create space and room for every day improvements; also pointing out his theory of the efficiency paradox. In the parallel sessions, there were many opportunities to go deeper into different perspectives on this and more.

The 2018 Lean HE conference was practical and applicable. Through the conference, participants were challenged with new ideas and approaches to continuous improvement, and had the opportunity to train in and apply new skills.

For us at UiT our work is about people. Cultural changes. People’s genuine experience. In other words; deeply listening to peoples’ stories, to bring forth small or big changes every day.

Together our vision of the conference was to support us all in trusting the competence of all our people to be the driving force for change – to make improvements based on knowledge and engagement. To own our own stories together.

Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia, 2017 

Implementing, Measuring and Sustaining Change

Date: 1-3rd November 2017

Location: Sydney, Australia

Conference materials available here

Following two years of planning, Macquarie University, in partnership with Lean HE, proudly hosted the inaugural Australasian Lean HE Conference in 2017. 

Conference delegates had the chance to:

Keynote speakers, global industry experts and educational leaders presented at the conference.  The conference hosted speakers from Australia, New Zealand,  England, Scotland, Norway, Netherlands, USA and Canada. And was a great opportunity to network with Lean Leaders from across the globe.

For more information contact

Stirling, UK, 2016 

People, Culture and Lean in Higher Education

Date: 1-3rd November 2016

Location: Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom

Conference materials available here // Lean at Stirling Website

"Phenomenal", "Buzzing", "Inspiring", "Amazing positivity!"

Lean HE 2016 explored innovative approaches to the use of Lean, and the impact Lean continuous improvement activity on organisational culture and staff engagement. 

The programme focused on this from the perspective of lean practitioners, people managers and those engaged in organisational development, and examined ways in which lean may be utilised to enable it to become embedded into organisational culture. There were keynote speaker led sessions, facilitated workshops, seminars and practical activities. 

The conference offered amazing networking opportunities, and a chance to share learning in a unique environment. Our conference dinner was hosted at the historic Stirling Castle.

Waterloo University, Canada, 2015

Driving Lean Change in Higher Education

Date: 10th - 11th September 2015

Conference materials available here // Conference website (with session descriptions and download)

"A great opportunity to be with so many other people, all passionate about using lean to transform their Universities"

"Super well managed, and amazing hospitality from all the team"

"Great workshops, useful tools, I learnt so much"

"A monumental success"

Bringing together delegates from four continents with diverse approaches to lean, around a theme of building connections to enable change, the event was symbolised by the conference image (above) of circles and curves. These represent movement and change, with the size and density of the circles altering to represent change both large and small in many directions.

Cardiff University, UK, 2014

Improving the Student Experience

Conference materials available here

"epic event" "brilliant speakers" "fantastic" 

"Inspirational, thought provoking & relevant" 

“Professional organisation by the Cardiff team, relevant and engaging workshops and speakers. Just doesn't get any better than this”


Hosted by Cardiff's Lean University team this is a two-day event offering lectures, master-classes and workshops. 

The conference theme of Improving the Student Experience is more relevant than ever before against a background of decreasing funding and increasing expectations.

Keynote speaker, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of University of Sheffield.

Coventry University, UK, 10 September 2013

This one day conference included retrospectives from four university's lean initiatives, a keynote case study around lean improvements to the exam board process in Coventry University, and parallel workshops on topics that included "A Lean University - Where to start and how to evolve your approach", Benefits Realisation, Handling difficult questions, and "A3 - No Brainer Decision Making". It closed with a session completing a SWOT analysis on the future vision for lean thinking in HE, which in part led to the formation of the Lean HE Hub.