WALES’ first national learning and teaching conference will take place next year to showcase best practice in higher education. The Higher Education Academy event provides a rare opportunity to celebrate the driving force behind the sector in Wales. The inaugural Future Directions conference – Graduates For Our Future – will take place on April 26 at Wrexham’s Glyndwr University. Its focus will be to highlight the first Wales-wide quality enhancement theme and its three work strands: students as partners; learning in employment; and learning for employment. Wales’ Graduates For Our Future theme was born to help the nation’s higher education sector address priorities outlined in the Welsh Government’s For Our Future strategy. Two of For Our Future’s main priorities – delivering social justice and supporting a buoyant economy – will be central to next year’s conference. Professor Craig Mahoney, chief executive for the Higher Education Academy, who will chair the event, said: “The conference is the most important event in Wales’ learning and teaching calendar for 2012, and I’m confident that this conference will highlight excellent practice from across the Welsh higher education sector. “Wales has a wealth of knowledge and expertise to share, and I’m delighted that we’ve received so much support from the sector on this project.” Amanda Wilkinson, director of Higher Education Wales, said: “Higher Education Wales is proud to be a partner of this first national learning and teaching conference for Wales. “It is a rare and valuable opportunity to celebrate and showcase expertise and recognise the excellent talent driving learning and teaching throughout the sector. We welcome this inaugural event and look forward to being a part of it.” Professor Philip Gummett, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, said: “A high-quality student learning experience, where graduates are equipped for the world of work and their roles as citizens, is of the utmost importance to the higher education sector in Wales. “I am pleased that not only is this event coming to Wales for the first time, but it will also be a platform for Welsh universities to put on show the high- quality work they have been carrying out in engaging with students and helping to ensure they are prepared for employment.” The Higher Education Academy works with academic staff, discipline groups and senior managers in institutions to identify and share effective teaching practices for the benefit of students.