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Why we are excited about the EAIE Community Exchange 2021

September 30, 2021

The European Association for International Education has perfectly judged the mood in our sector, and brought it to life as the theme of this year's Community Exchange: "Bolder. Braver. Go!"

Whether you work in marketing, recruitment, administration, teaching and learning, or any other aspect of education, there is a shared sense that the time is ripe for change, but that we need a common sense of shared purpose and direction to direct our energies to.

That is why we are so excited about this year (even if it's on a remote basis). We not only get to come together with experts, friends, colleagues, mentors and innovators, but we also get to ask the big questions about where we are all headed and what needs to be done.

We picked our talks carefully; making sure we maximise the opportunity to learn and share as much as we can before we press the "GO!" button. Here are our top picks for the event.

Marketing as engagement

NEO taking a back seat? Not a chance. In fact, we started off this event by delivering a session, called "Marketing and recruitment in 2022: five things to try" with Mats Engblom and Ilaria Bossi. We did not pull any punches in this one, going with the conference theme and encouraging our colleagues to try something new, and really reach for bold changes. We will give you the full rundown of these ideas next week.

From there, it's on to "Spotlight on: marketing, recruitment and admissions" which really looks at telling the story of an institution in creative ways, and will connect really well with the talk "Alumni Relations presents: A university’s story: appealing to alumni and friends". We talked in our own session about the power of "evangelists" to spread the word about what an institution means to them, and we know how powerful this can be when it unfolds as a narrative or story.

The talk entitled "Spotlight on: stakeholder engagement" will take this one final step further. We are so glad to see so much attention given to engaging people in what we do and what is on offer, rather than beating people with the blunt instrument of raw marketing. If we truly believe in what we do, then let's get rid of the monologue and start a dialogue instead.

Alejandra (NEO Academy), and Mats (University of Helsinki), also deliver another talk in this event, entitled "Transitioning to Generation Alpha: Are you ready?". When we talk about engagement, we need to truly understand that the students who are now approaching our institutions are about to change, and knowing what is important to them will be critical factors in authentic engagement. You can read more about our thoughts on this here.

National and supranational specialisations

Working with partner institutions in different countries means really having to understand the context in which they operate. International education has its own drivers and complexities, but the domestic background to the institutions we work with are vitally important.

When we begin work with a new partner in a country we have never worked in before, we always make time to stay up to date with developments there, that might affect priorities, or reveal new opportunities. That's why the EAIE's "What's new in...?" series of talks are just so helpful! Everything from changing laws on education and social mobility, innovations, visa issues, ERASMUS, strategic shifts; you name it, it's covered. Despite our own experience, we still learned a lot. What a great thing it is to have the information you really need condensed into a short session and beautifully communicated.

Above the national contexts, sessions such as "Strategy and Management presents: Navigating multiple demands and forces" and "New trends affecting our field of work" dive into all of the supranational forces that impact our sector, from labour shortages and climate change to AI and the pandemic itself. And if you misread the sub heading as "supernatural specialisations" and got excited, who you gonna call? 

At the end of the event, we all get to come together for a lively discussion on "Managing internationalisation in a post-COVID world". As we in education should know, knowledge is best retained when it is tested, explored, applied and co-constructed, and there is nothing like a good old-fashioned discussion to do that.

The purpose of education

This might sound like an overblown statement, but it really is where we are right now. We really are seeing so much more focus now on how education can show true leadership in the world by being a force for positive change,

One way we can do this is to equip learners not only with the knowledge they need, but with the skills for an uncertain future "Skills for a brave new world" asks some bold questions about how we are supposed to help learners upskill for jobs none of us even know about yet.

Another way we can do this is to broaden access. Our society will be no better if so many among us remain excluded from education. Digital strategies are one way to broaden access, for those who simply cannot attend synchronous on-site classes. The talk "Are hybrid learning environments the future of education?" addresses this, and the "Spotlight on: equity and inclusion" examines DEI in education and how digital strategies play a part in this.

Networking and schmoozing

Our favourite thing! There are other talks we haven't mentioned yet, from how to get tuition fees right, to the very important "Avoiding virtual burnout: engagement, motivation and mental health in a digital world" and several more! We cannot wait to share them with you here on our blog, our Spotify podcast, or in person. What is important is that we keep sharing, learning together life-long and life-wide. To our colleagues out there- be bold, be brave and go!

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