Meet Helen Zimmerman, AIEC Committee Member

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!



Registrations open for the 2013 Australian International Education Conference

 Global Imperatives – Local Realities, 8-11 October, Canberra

Waleed Aly
Waleed Aly

Registrations are now open for the 27th Australian International Education Conference (AIEC), taking place in Canberra from 8-11 October, 2013.With leading social commentator Waleed Aly, and esteemed journalists Annabel Crabb (ABC) and Phil Baty (Times Higher Education) announced as keynote speakers, this year’s AIEC is again set to be the premier conference for the international education industry in the Asia Pacific region.Co-hosted by IDP Education and the International Education Association of Australia, this year’s AIEC will address the theme: Global Imperatives – Local Realities.

Andrew Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of IDP Education, said AIEC is an opportunity to come together to discuss important issues affecting the international education industry.

“The international student of today is faced with a wider range of decisions than ever before,” he said.

“Options for where a student learns, what they learn and how they learn have evolved rapidly in recent years.

“In the face of continuing global competition from established and newly emerging locations and study methods, universities and institutions around the world are considering these options and how to position themselves for the future.

“This year’s conference will examine the key global, regional and local drivers that influence international education.”

For more information or to register for AIEC 2013 visit

AIEC’s call for session proposals extended

The call for session proposals for AIEC 2013  has been extended and it will now close on 12 April.

This year’s AIEC will focus on the key global, regional and local drivers that influence and shape international education.

Download the submission guidelines and submit your session on the AIEC website before it closes on Friday 12 April.

Also, take a look at our new video for AIEC!

Our new video provides an overview of AIEC 2012 and invites you to join us this year in Canberra for AIEC 2013.

We would like to thank the Council of International Students Australia, Australian Capital Tourism and Brand Victoria for provding us with some of the footage in this video.

Save $100 if you register by Friday 29 July

If you book and pay by COB Friday 29 July (that’s tomorrow!), you will save $100 off the cost of a full conference registration. Register via the AIEC website, it will only take you a couple of minutes and as soon as you’ve finished you can start thinking about what you can do with that spare $100… a visit to Haighs Chocolate shop perhaps?  Or even better, use the savings to add-on a half day workshop from the great selection on offer. Find details here: Workshops

More than 670 of your industry peers have already confirmed their attendance, so don’t delay, register today!

Check out the wrap-up video of last year’s AIEC for an idea of what’s in store for you in Adelaide this October.

Welcome to the AIEC Blog

The AIEC team have been busy! Registrations are open and the first early bird deadline is only 3 weeks away (it’s a $200 saving, and that amounts to a lot of coffees!). The program is coming together and we will be announcing some exciting keynote speakers over coming weeks.

We are also finalising arrangements for the social side of the conference. We know how valuable it is to step back and reflect on all the useful information you’ll get from conference sessions, and what better way to do this than over a drink, a coffee, a meal or all three!

The team will be adding to this blog regularly and using it as an opportunity to keep you up to date in a less formal way than the monthly e-updates many of you will get from us by email. So bookmark this page, or even better, subscribe to receive the blog hot off the press via the [email subscribe] button on the right hand panel.

We are looking forward to getting feedback and ideas from you all on all aspects of the conference – from the program to the social events, so don’t be shy! Now… go off and make your institution very happy by registering before 24 June and saving $200.

Don’t forget this super early bird rate finishes on 24 June… so jump on it today!

Cheers – The AIEC Team