Behind the scenes with Louise Goold: Building the AIEC program

July 23, 2014

This week, I caught up with Louise Goold, Manager for Engagement at Monash University’s Faculty of Education and Director of Murray-Goold International. Louise has been working alongside the AIEC Committee for 12 years now, and continues to help us deliver a great program offering to all our AIEC delegates.

Louise, tell us a bit more about what you do and your background in international education.


Louise Goold

I’ve been in international education since about 1987. I started by working with what was AIDAB (then AusAID and now DFAT) and later moved on to senior international education roles at Flinders University, British Council and Swinburne University. Now I work at the Faculty of Education at Monash, looking after their engagement projects.

So, tell us when did you first get involved with AIEC and what has been your role?

I have probably been attending AIEC since 1990, but I have been helping out with the program since 2003.
My role is to sit alongside the committee to provide expert advice about content in the program, provide ideas for content and sessions and then help identify and invite speakers to participate. We start off by developing a theme for the conference and identifying key topics and issues that are current, important and need to be addressed. We then look at the feedback from the delegate survey and brainstorm ideas for panels and presentations.
After the call for proposals closes, reviews are done and proposals accepted, we then relook at the whole program and identify content gaps, i.e. missing topics that haven’t been filled through submitted papers. If we feel we need a session on a topical or emerging issue on international education, I then work with the committee to build those sessions and get them into the program.

We all know that building a program can be challenging. What are the major challenges for you?

STEP 4 Looks pretty good

Where it all comes together

To me the biggest practical challenge is the scheduling – making sure that we are not scheduling sessions on a similar topic at the same time, and doing our best to ensure that all the sessions scheduled in the same time slot are varied and cover as many sectors and topics as possible.

Another challenge, but also what makes AIEC so special, is that AIEC caters to all sectors, covers a broad range of topics and is suitable to industry veterans as well as newcomers to the industry. We do our best to make sure that we have a good balance of topics that will appeal to a wide audience, but also provide a forum for more niche topics to be presented as well. Some sessions are particularly focused and cover only one topic and one sector, but other sessions present the opportunity for a cross-sectoral perspective. Both types of sessions are equally valuable and provide a great opportunity for professional development, but when sessions don’t fall neatly into one particular category, it’s not easy for scheduling!

Can you give us an example?

We have sessions that focus specifically on the school, VET, Higher Ed or English language sectors. To balance that, we also have sessions like ‘Just what does the future hold for international education in Australia?’ that brings together representatives from all the peak bodies in Australia to discuss common challenges and provide their views on a particular issue affecting international education today.

This year we have offered a few speakers the opportunity to present a poster. We know that their presentation might only be relevant to a small percentage of delegates, so by presenting a poster, the topic still gets covered at the conference, and delegates still get to talk and meet with the poster presenters. Posters this year focus on a range of topics, including research, mobility, etc.

We have more plenary sessions this year. Is there a particular reason why?

Sometimes we have really interesting high level speakers that we’re putting up against other equally important sessions and speakers. This is unfair for the delegates who have to miss out on something, as well as for the speakers who have to present at the same time! So this year we made a deliberate decision to have a few more plenaries, particularly ones we think will appeal to all delegates, regardless of their sector or key interest area.


Virginia Trioli

The student panel “Inventing their own futures – a conversation with international students” is one example. It’s important for all of us to take the time to sit down and listen to what international students have to say, and we didn’t want delegates to miss out on this. I’m really looking forward to hearing students from different backgrounds and at different stages of study, share their experiences with acclaimed journalist and TV anchor, Virginia Trioli.

Some of the panels you help put together are what we call the ’In focus’ series. Can you tell us a bit about what delegates can expect if they attend one of these ‘In focus’ sessions?
As the name suggests, the session focusses on one particular country or region. Each year, we try to identify a country or region that is quite new or emerging in international education, or we revisit ones where there have been new developments. For example, in the ‘In focus’ Saudi session this year, delegates can expect to get a cross-section of views from student recruitment through to projects, consultancies and research opportunities, as well as gaining insight into how things work in the region and some of the challenges and realities on the ground in working within that market.


Top tip: Read the program in advance!

Just to finish off, what’s your top tip for delegates to get then most out of the conference?

To get the most out of the conference program, take the time to actually read the program. Session descriptions are up on the website, so you can read the session descriptions and the speaker bios in advance, and then you can do the same when you arrive at the conference and receive the printed program. At the very least, flick through the pages, and identify the key sessions that are most relevant to you.

If you’re there with colleagues from your same organisation, coordinate with each other so that you’re not all sitting in the same session and you can actually spread that expertise and that knowledge around and meet up later to share what you’ve learned.


The preliminary conference program is now available online. To receive updates on the conference program and other important news about the conference, subscribe to our enewsletter or follow us on Twitter @AIEC, hashtag #AIEC2014.

A message from the Right Honourable, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Councillor Graham Quirk

July 9, 2014

I am delighted to welcome all AIEC 2014 delegates to Brisbane.

We are ‘Australia’s New World City’ and our growing global reputation as a destination for educational excellence is attracting thousands of international students to Brisbane each year.New Graham Headshot_ small

Currently we have around 75,000 international student enrolments in universities, state and private high schools, private colleges, TAFEs and English language schools across the city. This year, Brisbane welcomed students from all corners of the globe including China, India, USA, Brazil, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Colombia and Taiwan.

In 2012, international students generated $2.8 billion for the city’s economy and supported 20,000 (full-time equivalent) local jobs, making it Brisbane’s biggest export market. Their presence creates a cosmopolitan and vibrant city and they also strengthen our network with cities around the globe, creating lifelong relationships.

The Study Brisbane program is the proud city partner for AIEC this year. Brisbane City Council’s economic development board – Brisbane Marketing, runs Study Brisbane to support current and future international students.

Other initiatives of the Study Brisbane program include the City Welcome Festival, the Brisbane International Student Ambassador program and regular friendship ceremonies hosted by myself.

The International Student Ambassador program was established in 2009 and harnesses the global reach of our international students to spread the word on all the cultural, business and investment opportunities our city has to offer.
Brisbane’s educational providers are consistently ranked among the world’s best and combined with a strong economy, affordability, beautiful sub-tropical weather and a safe environment, it’s no wonder more students are choosing to study here.

I look forward to welcoming all AIEC delegates at the AIEC Welcome Reception, sponsored by Study Brisbane, in October.

Graham Quirk
Lord Mayor of Brisbane

Read Lord Mayor’s bio here

Meet Helen Zimmerman, AIEC Committee Member

June 16, 2014
Helen Zimmerman

Helen Zimmerman, AIEC Committee Member & President of IEAA

Last week, Helen Zimmerman, President of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) and latest member to (re)join the AIEC Committee was in town. We caught up for a few minutes to discuss Helen’s background in international education, the IEAA and what she’s most looking forward to at this year’s AIEC. Here’s how it went…

Could you tell us a bit about what you do?

My current role is heading up Government and Stakeholder Relations for Navitas, which I’ve been doing for just about one year now. However, before that, I headed up their division for English language delivery for international and domestic students, migrants and refugees for many years, and loved it.

How long have you been involved in international education?

I guess I’ve been involved in international education since the early nineties. I joined ACL in 1994, and in those days the company was primarily focused on international students. Navitas acquired the ACL Group, and so that’s how I came to be part of Navitas in 2005. I’m a member of the senior team, and so I’m involved in the strategy and operations as well as external relations.

I’ve also been a director of English Australia and NEAS over the years .

Were you attending AIEC back in those days?

There were two main conferences I use to attend when I first became involved in international education: the IDP Conference (now AIEC) and the ELICOS Association Conference (now the English Australia Conference). Those were the only two organisations giving real market intelligence back then, before we started getting statistics from the government, so the highlight of these conferences was the research and data presented on international education.

Attending the IDP Conference was our way of getting perspective on what was happening in international education in Australia, and of course, globally. Today, it has moved beyond having a purely a marketing focus (research and data presentations), and become a forum were we talk about “all” the issues in international education.

Could you tell us about IEAA and your role in the Association?

IEAA was formed in 2004. The idea was to create an individual member organisation for people working in and passionate about international education, to provide professional development for the sector and create a forum for the sharing and cross-fertilisation of ideas. Tony Adams invited me to be on the Board when they first started in 2004, and I’ve been involved ever since.

We were careful not to make it just about higher education. The IEAA has worked very hard and made it a point to ensure the association is cross-sectoral, public and private, with members based in Australia and overseas. Increasingly, with globalisation, we do a lot more now in engaging with other peak body associations, so the debates, the issues and the conversations are happening on two levels. The IEAA supports the whole Australian international education sector, and in the past few years we’ve increased our advocacy role and focused more on promoting the benefits of Australian international education to the community and governments.

IEAA is also about collaboration. There are many other peak bodies in Australia, but we are not here to do what they do: we are here to “link up” and “be a voice across all sectors”. We believe it’s important to work both nationally with these peak bodies, as well as with our international counterparts in other countries.

Over the last two years the focus has really moved towards engaging internationally, driven mostly by the emerging markets such as Brazil and South Africa among others, coming to the table and joining in the conversation.

The important thing to remember is that IEAA focuses largely on the professionalisation of the industry, and this is why the AIEC is so important to everyone who works in the international education sector.

Can anyone sign up to become a member of IEAA at the conference?

Certainly. We’ll have a booth in the exhibition hall and we welcome everyone to come and talk to us. The secretariat staff will be there to tell delegates about IEAA, about what we do and how and why becoming a member is so important. Anyone who is working in international education who wants to know what is happening in Australia and is interested in connecting with international education professionals is welcome to join. And it’s not only for Australians in Australia. For example, we have non-Australian members who just want to keep up with what’s happening in Australia, or Australian members living overseas.

You don’t have to be physically living in Australia to enjoy all the benefits of membership. For example, we are offering more and more webinars now, so that anyone, anywhere in the world, can benefit from our professional development courses.

What are the benefits of becoming a member of the IEAA?

There are several benefits to becoming a member. For example, through direct email communications, we offer career opportunities alerts, important industry updates, data and research information and members also get a subscription to our Vista magazine and discounts on our seminar courses.

Also, members receive a $300 discount on the AIEC registration, and $50 discount on the pre-conference workshop registration. This is a great offer, considering the individual membership costs only $250.

What are you looking forward at this year’s conference?

Well, I usually always enjoy the keynote speakers, as well as the breadth and depth of the overall program. There’s always too much to choose from!

I think this year in particular, I’m really interested to see how speakers talk about innovation and creativity, and how to engage globally. As cliché as it sounds, the world is not the way it used to be, and today international education is undergoing a paradigm shift. I think that education is the most powerful force for change in societies, but at the same time, education is being disrupted by so many things, like technology, connectivity, different perspectives, challenges to business models and the importance of the student voice.

It’s an exciting time for international education, and the AIEC is the place where all these issues will be discussed.

Hope you enjoyed the read, as much as I enjoyed the interview. Looking forward to introducing you to the rest of the Committee!


Get to know the AIEC Committee

May 1, 2014

The AIEC Advisory Committee comprises members from both co-hosting organisations, IDP Education and the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA). Together, the eight members bring a wealth of expertise and industry knowledge, and contribute to the high quality program that AIEC is renowned for.

Earlier this year, we welcomed a new committee member, Gordon Scott from Study Brisbane, who replaced Betty Leask from La Trobe University. We have also recently said goodbye to Dennis Murray from LH Martin Institute for Tertiary Education Leadership and Management, The University of Melbourne, who is replaced by Helen Zimmerman, President of IEAA.

We all know that the success of any conference is largely due to the tireless efforts and contribution from its conference committee members. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Betty and Dennis for their contribution to the AIEC in recent years, and warmly (and officially) welcome Gordon and Helen to the Committee.

We will be introducing each member in future posts, to hear more about them and what we can expect at this year’s AIEC in Brisbane.

Stay tuned!

Josephine Williams

IELTS Research Grants – Apply Now!

April 10, 2014

Up to AU$70,000/£45,000 available per project

Educational institutions and suitably qualified individuals are invited to apply for funding to undertake applied research projects in relation to IELTS for a period of one or two years.

Total grant funding of up to AUD$215,000 (£130,000) may be provided with up to AU$70,000/£45,000 available per project.

Research areas of interest include test development and validation issues, issues relating to contexts of test use and  issues of test impact.

Applications must be submitted by 30 June 2014.

How to apply

Latest recipients

Congratulations to the successful research grant recipients grants who applied last year to undertake projects funded by IDP IELTS Australia this year:

  • Professor Jill Blackmore, Professor Lesley Farrell, Dr Anne Marie Morrissey and Dr Cate Gribble from the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation at Deakin University, Australia, will investigate the use of IELTS in determining employment, migration and professional registration outcomes in healthcare and early childhood education in Australia.
  • Dr Philip Chappell and Dr Heather Jackson of Macquarie University, Australia, will look at the impact of teacher cognition and classroom practices on IELTS test preparation courses in the Australian ELICOS sector.
  • Dr Aek Phakiti from The University of Sydney, Australia will undertake a study of test-takers’ calibration and strategy use in IELTS listening tasks.

View a full list of recipients

New research

Recently published research includes a qualitative study exploring stakeholder perceptions of the IELTS test as a gateway to the professional workplace for teachers in Australia and New Zealand.

Tips for Submitting a Proposal to AIEC 2014

March 15, 2014

With call for proposals ending Friday, 28 March, only a few weeks left!

Are you still undecided on whether to submit a proposal?

This year, with all the new different formats and options, it can feel a little daunting, so I thought I’d make a selection of my top tips, which hopefully will encourage you to submit, and improve your chances of your proposal being accepted.

Read examples from previous conferences
Before you start your proposal, read examples of sessions on the website from our previous conferences. It will give you a good idea of the tone, topics and angles that tend to fit the conference. We want to avoid repeating the exact topics from one year to the next, so we suggest the reading as background only, but it’s good to get of a sense of what the titles and abstracts should focus on.

Can your title stand alone?
It’s common to go for the quirky or goofy title, to the detriment of a meaningful, albeit slightly more boring title. While an ‘out of the square’ title can sometimes be the right way to go (there have been great examples in the past), please ask yourself first whether this title can stand alone, and whether it provides readers a good idea of what the presentation will be about, without having to read the abstract.

Go straight to the point
The abstract is only 150 words, so it’s important that you get straight to the point and tell us what your presentation (or panel) is about. Don’t just set up the question or state the obvious, make sure the abstract conveys what content you will be presenting or talking about.

Think of your target audience
While there are certainly topics that are so niche that we can’t accept them due to the limited audience, there is also the risk of being so general we can’t see attendees getting enough concrete from the presentation. Before you conceptualise your proposal, think about the intended audience and what they will want to hear/learn.

Think how you want to present the information
The conference is offering different types of formats, so you also need to keep the target audience in mind when deciding what the best delivery format will be. For example, if your proposal would only appeal to a very small number of people (under 15) don’t select ‘expert lecture’ as your only ‘session type’! You’ll have much better chances to be accepted if select café session or poster.

Don’t give us a sales pitch
Speakers from specific companies or company representatives that may appear on the program are chosen because they are bringing lessons learned from a peer-to-peer perspective, and not because they are delivering a sales pitch. The main challenge for you, especially if you work in the PR or marketing department of your organisation, will be to figure out how your talk can contribute to the industry, and articulate that. It’s about what you’ve learned, not about how great your product is.

We look forward to receiving your proposals and wish you the best of luck!

We Cannot Predict the Future, but We Can Invent it

January 14, 2014

The adage ‘we cannot predict the future, but we can invent it’ has been known to come in many forms, and attributed to many people.

When I researched the origin of this maxim, I discovered popular belief has it that the phrase was originally coined in 1971 by computer scientist, Alan Kay. Years later at a conference in 1982, Alan responded to managers wanting to know how to plan future products, with ‘the best way to predict the future is to invent it.’ Other similar quotes replace ‘inventing’ with ‘creating’, but at the very essence of them all is the idea that the future is in our hands, we are not helpless, and we can do something about it… now. As Alan later stated, ‘we should decide what we want and then make it happen’.

The theme the Committee has chosen for the AIEC 2014 is about understanding that we must evolve, recreate and keep up with the transformations our industry is experiencing: How we deal, accept, respond and evolve to current emerging technologies and innovation today, and how this will impact the way we will operate in the future. Not just next year, or the year after, but in ten years and beyond. The focus in Brisbane will be on the future and our responsibilities in shaping it.

Why is this important? There are many obvious reasons, but to quote American inventor, Charles F. Kettering, ‘My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.’

So, what’s next for international education? Personally, I would like to see AIEC 2014 as a forum that connects delegates with everyone and everything moving the sector forward. I’m excited to meet and hear from the people, companies, governments and institutions that are helping shape the future of international education. What disruptions are you experiencing now, and what are you doing about it? What are the latest tools, strategies and insights busy professionals can later apply to their work once the conference is over? How are you collaborating with others in the industry or outside the industry to keep up with new technologies, new policies and new environments? What are the trends and evidence telling you about where we will be 10 years from now?

The Committee is calling upon creative thinkers with innovative ideas that are identifying, defining and preparing for the future of international education to submit their proposal for the AIEC 2014.

Our submission guidelines and instructions will be available from the AIEC website shortly. If you have any questions about the process please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Josephine Wiliams, Conference & Events Leader at IDP Education


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