Alison White, Convenor of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) Scholarships and Fellowships Network, and Track Chair on the AIEC Program Committee, is a great source of intel about the upcoming AIEC conference this week. We sat down with her to gather some intel about the conference, its aims, and her hot tips to maximise your conference experience.
For the newcomers, what is AIEC Conference all about?
It’s the key event for international educators in Australia and the Indo Pacific. This year our speakers hail from 15 different countries and all share their expertise with generosity and openness. There are likely to be more than 1,700 delegates from more than 450 organisations. While 50% of delegates have more than 10 years’ experience in international education, around 40% will be attending AIEC for the first time!
Why has AIEC become the leading conference for international educators?
AIEC is an opportunity for practitioners to hear from leaders across our sector and learn best practice from colleagues. We get to network with people from all over the world at official social functions, in the exhibition hall, and during Braindates.
There is also significant representation from the government in plenaries, as panelists and presenters, and throughout the exhibition hall. Everyone is there to connect, learn, grow their skills and network. Don’t be afraid to chat with someone you’ve never met before. We encourage people to be brave!
The Theme is ‘international education: visionary and transformative’. Why did AIEC choose that theme?
This theme resonates with the entire international education sector, but was also chosen because of its relevance to the location of this year’s AIEC – Adelaide. Adelaide is known for being a progressive and forward-thinking city, so the theme was a logical fit!
Looking at some of the work that Tetra Tech is involved with, fully funded scholarships play a pivotal role in development at all levels of development. They create people to people links, and develop and upskill the leaders of tomorrow. We see the ripple effects globally. Many of today’s leaders were recipients of fully-funded scholarship programs. This theme allows us to tell the stories of impact, spotlight best practice that creates that impact, and highlight the importance of our industry to public and private decision makers and funding bodies.
Which speakers of note will be there?
Where do I start? On Wednesday, Annabel Crabb will be MC for the morning plenary sessions, and Stan Grant will be MC for Friday’s plenary sessions. The plenaries will feature Minister of Education Jason Clare and Minister for Skills and Training Brendan O’Connor, as well South Australia’s Deputy Premier and Governor. There are too many more to name.
Which sessions are you most looking forward to personally – your curated list of ‘sessions not to miss’?
So many! The difficulty is narrowing it down. Apart from the keynotes and plenaries, we have sessions dedicated to how we can better support students, hearing the voice of students, intercultural competence, mental health and wellbeing, and the rise of AI and its impact on international education. My inner data geek is also interested in several sessions sharing research and data on a range of topics, including student perceptions and motivation, and the student experience.
Which sessions are you involved with?
Tuesday afternoon will be a great opportunity to Meet the IEAA Network Convenors. Thursday afternoon I’m chairing a panel discussion on the topic of scholarships and national security, international development and our strategic interests. Directly after I’ll be chairing a fabulous Inspire session – short, 14-minute presentations where presenters and delegates can continue the conversation after the session.
Finally, I will also be hosting a group Braindate on Tuesday afternoon – a brainstorming session on how to convince decision-makers in institutions of the true value of fully-funded scholarships and encourage institutions to consider more investment in fully-funded scholarships rather than simply focusing on tuition fee discounts.
How can people get involved (brain dates, the lounge, anything else)?
- Ask questions!
- Host or attend a Braindate
- Visit the stands in the exhibition hall. Tetra Tech are the water bottle sponsor so come and see us at Booth 13, next to the Green Lounge.
- Network – introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. Be brave! Some of the richest connections occur during social events at AIEC.
What are some of the great benefits you’ve seen from people attending the conference?
The content is always thought-provoking, informative and sometimes challenging. However, the personal connections are probably the most enduring benefits. A chance encounter with someone can develop into a lifelong professional and personal connection. Our international education community is extremely generous in sharing information and knowledge. All of us are committed to strengthening the sector as a whole and supporting our students at all stages of the lifecycle. Increasing the power of these connections transcends the individual impact. They have the power to transform the entire sector and those whose lives it touches.