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AIEA brings sector together at annual conference

Historical inequities, government policy, access and sustainability were all key themes at the 2023 AIEA annual conference in Washington DC.
February 24 2023
2 Min Read

“I have been waiting a long time to say this,” began AIEA conference chair David Fleshler in his address to the delegates at the AIEA annual luncheon, “but I’m pleased to report that the state of AIEA is strong.”

Indeed, the organisation’s commitment to supporting international students, faculty, and administrators was a common theme woven throughout this week’s conference in Washington DC.

Outgoing president Jewell Green Winn reminded delegates that, as a sector, “we are stronger together”, in urging the attendees to be advocates for international education at the local, state, and national levels.

The importance of advocacy was underscored at ‘A View from the Hill’, a breakout session facilitated by Jill Welch of the President’s Alliance, NYU’s Sherif Barsoum and University of Michigan’s Imara Dawson. The trio discussed how the climate on Capitol Hill impacts the work of international educators on a campus level.

“There are changes that require constituents to build relationships and develop champions”

“There are changes that require constituents to build relationships and develop champions,” said Welch. Barsoum shared key updates on premium processing times for visas and the extension on interview waivers for certain non-immigrant visa applicants.

An overview of the state of the sector entitled, “How are we doing – really?” was the topic of Tuesday’s opening plenary during which panellists discussed new findings and the future of international education.

Winn raised concern about how far the US has come as a nation in addressing the historical inequities faced by students of colour. She urged much more needs to be done regarding approaches to equitable international education.

She argued that issues of race and violence in the US are a deterrent for many students seeking to study abroad. And in reviewing the 2022 figures from Project Atlas, the trends are somewhat alarming for US leaders.

While US remains the top destination overall for international students, the percentage of students has decreased over the past 12 years in comparison to other locations. Meanwhile, Canada’s percentages have nearly doubled in the same timeframe.

A major win for US is the number of higher education institutions in the country. With over 4,000 HEIs, the US has significantly more capacity than its top competitors: UK, Canada, and Australia.

Thus, panellists implored, the efforts and funding of institutions needs to match the language of internationalisation outlined in strategic plans and mission statements.

In considering the shifting landscape of international student mobility trends, Maria Claudia Soler of the American Council on Education asserted, “Technology continues to be a huge access point that allows students to access global education.”

Podium Education’s co-founder and president Chris Parrish discussed the power of technology to support students’ global experiences and to promote their intercultural competence and 21st century skills.

Collaboration was also highlighted as a critical component to the success of the sector. A popular session during the event was hosted by leaders from the Network of International Education Associations on hot topics in different world regions.

EAIE president Piet Van Hove spoke with The PIE News about key takeaways and commonalities among regions with different issues.

“What we want for our sector is to be more inclusive, diverse, and sustainable,” Van Hove said. “And we do that by strengthening our collaborative dynamic. That’s the basis of it – bringing people together.”

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