I’ve been back in my office, here in the damp, grey chill of the north of England, for about a week now. The blazing heat and sun of Houston seem a long way away…. The NAFSA 2012 annual conference opened with a buzz of anticipation and expectation. The week didn’t disappoint, and now we’re all left to reinforce the connections we’ve made and build on new foundations.
My week was spent meeting with our University partners, exploring the Expo Hall, catching up with colleagues and attempting to identify a new exchange partner. I attended a couple of sessions on international student recruitment, managed to make it to a few (but not enough!) lively evening receptions, and met some really dynamic and interesting people who are changing the face of international student recruitment and international education through their entrepreneurship and dedication. (Hello @amybakerThePIE, @gennextedu, @jLinkMarketing, @MandysMashups, @mhizon, @icefmonitor, @happyschools, @Phil_Baty, @ElspethJones, @joeavison, @JeffBunkin)
My thoughts as I wandered the cavernous halls of the George R. Brown Convention Center (in no particular order):
- Pathway programmes (aka. foundation year, academic preparation programme) are gaining traction in the USA as a means of boosting international student recruitment. We’ve known about pathway programme recruitment potential in Britain for awhile now, and companies such as INTO, Study Group, Navitas and Kaplan have a strong presence in the UK. From what I gather, colleges and universities in the US that are interested in increasing international student numbers are just starting to get on-board.
- The Agent Debate shows no sign of cooling off in America, and if anything seems to be getting more pernicious and personal, particularly between Mitch Leventhal and Philip Altbach. Check out this recent post in Inside Higher Ed and the comments section below it.
- Despite the huge international presence, ie. conference attendees coming from outside the USA, the NAFSA annual conference is still very much an American conference, organized by Americans for Americans. This was evidenced by the perspective of the majority of the session presenters and their audience, the food and facilities offered in the convention center, and the exhibitors in the Expo Hall. In particular, I thought that, as someone working at a university not located in the USA, most of the sessions were not relevant to me (although one can always glean a small gem of useful and interesting information).
- US colleges and universities have had enough of UK institutions. By that I mean, the USA/UK exchange partnership market is saturated. US institutions are looking for partners, but which are located in other parts of the world. I was on a mission for my University to secure a new exchange partner in the US, and I came away empty-handed. All of the American institutions I talked to said they already had enough UK partners and weren’t looking for any more. Boo hoo.
For more NAFSA 2012 stories, check out The PIE News (and their photo gallery). If you are on Twitter, go to #NAFSA12 or follow @rmsylte. She’s put together some good newsletters focused on post-conference round-up.