Goodbye from AIEC and a few final thoughts…

October 10, 2014

I posted last night on Facebook ‘I’ve heard Brisbane is a lovely city..” to which my Sister-in-Law replied ‘didn’t get outside the hotel then?’ Isn’t it often the way that on our travels that we end up in some of the most beautiful and cultural places on Earth but we rarely get to experience them?

But that’s the nature of our work and it has been a really fantastic experience to be at AIEC here in Brisbane this year and mix with so many others from the industry and listen to so many high quality debates and talks.

Don’t forget to download the British Council’s report on Postgraduate student mobility trends to 2024. The presentation on this earlier today was excellent and focused on postgraduate mobility, forecasting key drivers of student mobility and postgraduate student flows to 2024. There are some key insights in there that can help us to forecast.

Finally, and before I jump on a plane, it was great to see Dan Gregory from The Impossible Institute present on ‘The things that pull our strings’. What a fantastic talk where Dan challenged us all to think laterally and to look at human behaviors. Dan talked about the age of unprecedented change that we live in, particularly in terms of the digital revolution. He talked about ‘expectation inflation’ where expectations keep going up and up and we have to deal with this and how higher expectations go hand in hand with potentially greater disappointments.

Dan challenged us not to stand still in our work and one of the things I really liked was the idea of ‘value alignment’ that we need to make our values our customers’ or clients’ values. Again, Dan echoed the theme of the importance of not crushing creativity but encouraging people to think sideways. He talked about the importance of diversity in the workplace and among people and how a diverse group is a more intelligent group. Diversity can help us avoid contextual blindness and therefore diversity of people, skills and attitudes within our places of work must be encouraged.

On that subject, I’m off to visit a another diverse group of people – my family – in Sydney who I haven’t seen for some time so I’m going to wave goodbye to Brisbane.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being a guest blogger and experiencing AIEC 2014. I shall certainly be taking a lot of thoughts back to the IDP as well as trying to lobby my boss to allow me to come to AIEC 2015 in Adelaide. Although, in the interests of diversity perhaps a colleague should experience what I’ve experienced… Thanks to all and safe journey home.

Best wishes


Some thoughts on Study Abroad…

October 10, 2014

So here we are on the last day of the conference and I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed both the conference and being the guest blogger!

This Conference has made me think. Most of us have precious little time to actually sit and listen, to ponder new things, and to take note of new ideas which we can transfer to our own places of work – so events like this give us a valuable space to think outside the everyday.

The main highlight of this morning for me was listening to the superb academic debate that took place around the subject of the ‘student mobility revolution’. This was a panel discussion between the University of Western Australia, the University of Adelaide and Monash University.

One of the main themes that interested me was the disparity that exists across the social-economic status of those students who are engaged in study abroad. The tendency being that those in the higher social-economic bracket were more likely to study abroad and that those in the lower brackets were less likely to develop their own intercultural capital.

The term ‘intercultural capital’ was one that I hadn’t come across before. In this context this meant essentially all the factors that individuals use to get a job, to add value to themselves and to get through life and survive – people’s personal reservoir of cultural knowledge and know how. Professor Glen Stafford talked about universities being the gatekeepers of intercultural capital and providers of transformative experiences, but that inequality exists as students with lower social economic status don’t have the intercultural capital of those with higher economic status. For example, students in the higher bracket will often come to study abroad already with family support, financial resources etc so they may already have their reservoir half filled.

Professor Stafford gave some excellent examples about how they were addressing this problem, which included removing grade restrictions on study abroad programmes, changing language so that it doesn’t appear selective (for example ‘student ambassador’ may make some potential students feel as though they were not prestigious enough to aspire to this) and embedding study abroad into degrees/majors, among other initiatives. Essentially, trying to normalize and open up the study abroad experience.

This was a complex but highly engaging topic which I would recommend anyone to look in to further. I was lucky enough myself to work abroad at a very young age and it made a real difference to my life. It would be greatly beneficial for all it study abroad opportunities could be made even more accessible.






Rankings, Student Buyer Behaviour and some dancing…

October 10, 2014

On the penultimate evening of the conference I just wanted to quickly jot down my thoughts from today – if I can remember them that is, after all that dancing and the Journey to the Cosmos at the AIEC dinner!

Remembering that the Conference theme is ‘Inventing the Future’ I listened with interest to LinkedIn’s Michael Levine who presented on the use of LinkedIn’s data to harness the world’s first economic graph. This month LinkedIn launched their own university rankings and tools to help in the student decision making process. The rankings are based on career outcomes and users can search which schools are launching graduates into desirable jobs. The focus was also on alumni and how they can use the alumni tool to further validate their decision making, by asking alumni of their intended university to share their experiences. Both interesting new tools which I’ll be taking a look at in more detail.

Speaking of decision making… IDP’s Head of Research Lyndell Jacka presented excellent new research on International Student Buyer Behaviour and took us inside the minds of today’s international students. Just as an aside, I particularly liked a tweet that I saw earlier which said ‘It wouldn’t be AIEC without Lyndell’s little running men”! I must say I’m quite fond of them myself…

Lyndell took us through a fascinating selection of slides that pulled upon data collected from over 1,000 students who had used IDP’s services. The findings looked at student perceptions and student experience. Some slides considered Australia only and others looked at multi destinations (UK, US, New Zealand and Canada).

In comparison to last year there were no dramatic differences, although in terms of student perception Australia moved forward to equal the US for Affordability. Still with student perceptions, the US led the way for Quality of Education closely followed by the UK and Australia. New Zealand and Canada led the way for safety. In terms of Graduate Employment Opportunities the UK was lagging well behind (in fact the little running man looked as though he was about to expire..) and Australia was up in front marginally ahead of the US.

Looking at the gap between student expectations and experience, Australian students expectations had taken a downward shift with the US student experience improving and the UK staying about the same. Canada saw an improvement on last year.

An interesting new slide was on pathway programmes which showed that there was a low level of awareness of pathway programmes among students. The good news for overseas providers is that 72% of students said that they would look to study their pathway programme overseas.

There was so much information there to think about and Lyndell said an infographic would be available in the coming weeks so I’ll look forward to studying that in more detail.

I’m going to leave it there for tonight with the sounds of ‘Happy’ still ringing in my ears which the band played following a very persistent encore! What a great evening.


Gamification – brilliant talk

October 9, 2014

Where to start on the brilliant talk on Gamification by Gabe Zichermann this morning?

While many institutions may now be thinking of nipping out and developing a game to help further their recruitment, it was some of the drivers and theory behind the success of Gamification that were so interesting for me.

Gabe started with a compelling story about a 10 year old boy who saved his family from a potentially fatal car crash, using his knowledge of driving he’d acquired as part of a game. This was an example of the use of fluid intelligence (the capacity to think logically and solve problems in novel situations) that Gabe touched on throughout his presentation.

He talked about how fluid intelligence combined with creativity can solve challenging problems.

Gabe went on to talk about an ‘engagement crisis’: how the next generation particularly are distracted by more things (our use of multiple screens/devices etc) and where Gamification can help them to engage and focus. Gamification is not the answer to everything, but if you take the best ideas and games and apply them for business or other purposes they can be used strategically and tactically.

Essentially, Gamification can help people experience or feel a product and this approach is much better than simply telling them about it. Gamification can help people to achieve or feel success which your brain responds to well. He described the chemical process of challenge, achievement and finally success! This success can be experienced when you’re playing a game or engaged in Gamification.

Gamification can also help people to push the boundaries of reality in a contained way. Gabe gave a brilliant example of the game Civilisation (yes I do remember this game…) which allows people to experience reality, be aspirational but also to fail safely.

Gabe ended to say that with the advent of new technology people will follow and find their own happiness and that their attention will be focused on where the most amount of positive reinforcement is. He finished by saying that nothing is a given anymore and that if we don’t give the next generation what they want – they will just start a competitor – this is what makes them different.

It was a brilliant talk and impossible to capture but it certainly got me thinking about the possibilities of the future, the current generation, the next generation and whether I should get my 8 year old son Minecraft after all…




Students, Rankings and the end of Wednesday…

October 8, 2014

Unfortunately this afternoon I was unable to make the debate by international students as I would have been very interested to hear about their experiences. By all accounts it was a lively and frank debate and highlighted some of the real success of an international education experience, as well as some of the more challenging aspects faced by international students. A number of delegates told me that this session was particularly worthwhile and I think it’s true that we should always remember that it is those who are learning that are at the heart of what we do.

Phil Baty gave a very interesting virtual talk on rankings with an emphasis on the Times Higher Education University rankings which are now in their 11th year. Whatever your opinion of rankings, and there has been a lot of debate in this area, there is no doubt that they play a significant part in student decision making process. Phil went on to say that an important characteristic of an average top 400 university was that it was internationally focused with clear strategic partnerships with business and Industry.

Professor Kim Langfield-Smith from Monash University added to this and said that in aiming to make Monash a truly global university they had focused on their global footprint and had invested in research, their infrastructure and quality teaching.

I finished off the day by learning more about Saudi Arabia which is has one of the highest spends on education in the world. Saudi Arabia is booming and institutions are encouraged to form partnerships with public and private institutions. The government has invested hugely in its scholarship programme but Cultural Attache Dr Abdulaziz BinTaleb also outlined some challenges in terms of the high population growth, the fact that 50% of the population is under 25 and the need to diversify.

I was also disappointed not to attend the IELTS happy hour, which I heard was a great do but I was fortunate enough to attend the IELTS 25th birthday party in London a few week’s ago which was also a great event – happy birthday IELTS!

Tomorrow is going to present hard choices in terms of which session to attend but I’m certainly looking forward to the first plenary on Gamification – interesting stuff!


AIEC Day 2: Innovation, Change and Creativity

October 8, 2014

What an incredible first morning at the AIEC! My brain is working overtime to try and absorb the amount of information that we’ve received so far today.

What I’m taking away from this morning’s session is innovation. Not standing still, pushing at the boundaries and taking risks in our work because the international education world is certainly not standing still.

Holly Sargent, who is the Founding Director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Women’s Leadership Board gave a thought-provoking talk on the importance of educational exchange and innovation. She encouraged all who work in the sector to be bold and embrace change, to reward those in institutions who collaborate and show initiative and to encourage new ways of learning. She encouraged everybody to use the digital world to improve the quality of teaching, to be flexible and take a risk by introducing pilots (because failure is often how you learn) and to dare to care!!

She also asked the audience to think about how touch points in our own educations had transformed us and will stay with us and she shared a wonderful example of her own personal international experience which she described as ‘transformative’.

Next up was Dr Stefan Hajkowicz from CSIRO who gave a particularly engaging talk on ‘Our Future World’. This took us on a whistle-stop tour of megatrends and scenarios affecting the world. He specifically covered Digital Immersion and provided some impressive statistics such as 90% of data available today was created in the last two years.. He also discussed the importance of creative, human and social activity and talked about how we are information rich but we also suffer from information overload.

Speaking of which…the panel discussion on Hot Topics in Education covered several important issues in the world of international education. One of the subjects that really caught my attention was the idea of capacity – there is a lot of talk around employability for international students and facilitating this – but is there a mismatch between employer capacity and international student employability expectations? Again, collaboration was raised and the importance of this and exchange to making institutions truly international.

We ended the morning on with Dr Keith Suter from World of Thinking who gave an engaging talk on almost everything – from Shakespeare to the Doomsday Book to Blue Ocean thinking! He stressed the importance of us all thinking for our customers – back to the innovation theme. He suggested that we should find ideas that don’t just beat our competitors – but make the competition irrelevant. He suggested that too much benchmarking makes us look like our competitors, and he suggested that we should look to the horizon and undertake some scenario planning. In international education he said, we are essentially looking at mobilising the brains of 7 billion people..

Which that in mind I’ll mobilise my own brain to take in this afternoon’s sessions…

Welcome to AIEC!

October 8, 2014

My name is Tamsin Carey, I represent IDP UK and I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to be a guest blogger here at AIEC 2014.

Despite the jet lag which a nice long flight from the UK will provide, I had a great day yesterday attending the IDP briefing and catching up with many colleagues from around the world. I then attended the Welcome Plenary last night which marked the start of AIEC 2014.

Having worked in the area of international student support in a UK university throughout the time when we saw real growth in the number of international students and witnessing the challenges that growth bought to the support services of the University, it was interesting once again to see all the talks on improving the quality of the international student experience.

Senator McKenzie talked about Australian universities being empowered to be the best they can be, and thereby helping students to reach their full potential. She also talked about the importance of international students having a positive student experience and that they should be fully supported in this. She particularly made reference to the quality of student accommodation and the need for visa processes to be streamlined to help students to reach their potential and also to make Australia more competitive to international students.

The Lord Major of Brisbane echoed this in his engaging speech and said that international students were of real value to Australia and to Brisbane. He was also keen to ensure that international students were provided with a high quality of living.

Quality seemed to be the word of the night as Senator McKenzie closed with ‘the key to going forward is quality’.

On that note, the IEAA awards were a superb example of the scope, range and innovation of international educational professionals and the high quality work that they do in this area. IEAA is celebrating 10 years of advocacy and support for Australia’s international education professionals and marked the occasion with a very large cake which took centre stage following the awards ceremony and which I unhappily failed to get a slice of at the reception later!

The Conference promises to be a great mix of sessions and speakers and I’m looking forward to what the first day will bring.



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