Keynote address by His Excellency the Honorable Hieu Van Le AO,
Governor of South Australia
AIEC 2015, held in Adelaide from 6 to 9 October, attracted 1,100 delegates from Australia and around the world. In total, 38 countries were represented at the conference, with 18% of delegates coming from overseas. Together they represented more than 380 organisations from all sectors of international education.
The program comprised 80 sessions, including 10 workshops, one roundtable, five plenary sessions and 64 concurrent sessions. The world-class speaker line-up included more than 200 speakers from 18 countries.
The conference theme, ‘international education: global, responsible, sustainable’, was explored in many sessions. Diversity, unity, hope, responsible growth, quality of education, employability and social contribution of students were just some of the topics that dominated the program. Student employability and language proficiency were also top of mind. Through a range of different formats, such as panel presentations and discussions, expert presentations, interactive café sessions and posters, delegates listened, debated, shared and learnt about issues, trends and challenges facing international education today.
Some highlights included:
QALEN (Quality Assurance in Language Education Network): a global accreditation framework
Mark Raven, Chief Executive Officer, NEAS (Australia)
This session presented the newly formed global accreditation framework for language education. The founder members of the association are: NEAS in Australia; FELTOM in Malta; English New Zealand; and ACCET in the US. Membership of QALEN involves a memorandum of understanding between all parties whereby the signatories agree to cooperate and recognise one another’s processes, principles, standards and activities. QALEN is intended to provide opportunities for members to: validate accreditation and assurance standards; focus on best practice in quality assurance and accreditation; foster innovation and new methods; reduce the impact of accreditation mills confusing the market; investigate cross-promotional opportunities; and promote a globally recognisable quality mark. Another aim of QALEN is to build a communication platform that describes the value of quality assurance and accreditation for agents, governments, students and the language teaching industry to aspire to.
Benchmarking of university English language centre operations
Stephen Connelly, Director, GlobalEd Services (Australia) and Patrick Pheasant, Director, The University of Sydney Centre for English Teaching (Australia)
This session focused on how English language communication competence is a key employability skill for globally mobile international students, yet misconceptions about English proficiency are common. These include how and when English is best taught and learned, and what communication skills employers are seeking. Through an engaging panel discussion and a lively Q&A session, participants examined some of the recent research and developments in institutions’ policy and practice and discussed potential solutions to improve quality assurance, international student employment outcomes and community perceptions.
Hot topics in international education worldwide: Panel Discussion
Brett Blacker, President/CEO, IEAA/English Australia (Australia); Vitor Alevato do Amaral, Vice-President, FAUBAI - Brazilian Association for International Education (Brazil); Fanta Aw, President and Chair of The Board of Directors, NAFSA: Association of International Educators (US); Markus Laitinen, Vice-President, European Association for International Education (EAIE) (Netherlands)
This panel featured representatives from Brazil, Europe and the US and highlighted the diverse challenges and opportunities facing international education around the globe. Marcus Laitinen from EAIE presented some interesting thoughts on the refugee crisis in Europe, concerned more with the long-term consequences and how education can help with their integration. Vitor Amoral from the Brazilian Association for International Education presented his perspective on Brazil where we are seeing an encouraging movement where discourse is being translated to action and, international education is gradually moving up the political agenda. From the US, we heard from Dr Fanta Aw from NAFSA about the increased awareness of the necessity to recruit overseas among providers in the US. This realisation is underscored by the changing demographics of the US which will mean that as numbers of high school students decline, universities will increasingly look towards international students to make up their numbers.
The professional development opportunities offered through the program were complemented by engaging and fun networking functions and a buzzing exhibition.
We look forward to building on the success of this year and delivering another stimulating conference for the international education industry when we all meet again in Melbourne on 18–21 October 2016. If you are interested in submitting a proposal for next year’s conference, the call for proposals will open in January 2016. Guidelines and key dates will be posted to the conference website.