Well, I think everyone landed safely and reached their intended destinations after flying with IDP Airlines at the conference dinner last night. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dance floor fill so quickly or a band so surprised by the energy of the dancers! This morning’s pick-me-up breakfast in the exhibition hall was pretty quiet, I must say.
This morning, we heard from Stephen Oliver, who is currently making a documentary about climate change, focusing more on the solutions rather than the challenges. Stephen has filmed a number of documentaries looking at different sustainability issues in the food chain and believes it’s an exciting time to tell stories on-screen and is a brilliant medium to get the message out there. He suggested that stories and education go hand in hand and is a powerful combination to empower communities to make the world a more global, responsible and sustainable place.
The Honourable Simon Birmingham, having flown in from Brisbane on the 6am flight to join us, was very positive in his outlook of the industry. He is looking forward to finalising the national strategy on international education this year, which represents a shared vision across government, institutions and industry.
Key priorities include promoting a high quality of education system, reviewing how to further improve the student experience, enhancing business/institution partnerships, and expanding the technology delivery mode of universities to step up to the challenges of a rapidly changing digital age.
The Senator highlighted that graduate employability and enhancing international students’ career prospects were central to the strategy. This is a topic which has been discussed in many sessions over the last three days and is a challenge which is certainly not restricted to Australia.
Today’s highlight for me was Annabel Crabb’s conversation with Senator Penny Wong, closing the conference. What a fascinating and humorous account of the Senator’s experience growing up between Malaysian and Australian cultures, her arrival in parliament and her thoughts on international education.
I saw many people nodding in agreement to the Senator’s remark that international education has continuing significance in positioning and integrating Australia in the region. Being more Asia-capable – introducing more capacity for other language speaking and working cross-culturally – is becoming intrinsically more important for Australia.
The Senator is very optimistic about our country in the region and believes that we’re the most successful multi-cultural country in the world, with many things we can leverage of, including international education.
Also, who knew Penny Wong is an awesome chef?
Phew! I am thoroughly exhausted after four days of meeting people, attending sessions, enjoying the entertainment, absorbing new ideas, case studies, best practice examples and some really fascinating insights into the world of international education. Just before I catch my flight back to Melbourne, I’d like to wish you all a safe journey home and hope to see you all at AIEC 2016!