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5 tips to get the most out of higher ed conferences

3 min read

Katarina Gligovic

Higher education conferences allow enrolment staff, admissions teams, program leaders, and higher ed professionals from all over the world to network and learn from each other's best practices.

With dozens of education conferences to choose from every year, it can be intimidating to know which conference to attend and what to do once you are there. 

We have put together a short list of five tips to help you navigate the world of higher ed conferences.

1. Research which is conference is the most relevant

Due to budget and time constraints, it is unlikely that you will be able to visit every conference. Research each event and ask your colleagues about their past experiences, and which conferences are best suited to your needs.

We have compiled a list of some of the upcoming higher education conferences in 2023 which might give you a better idea of who will be attending each conference. 

2. Know the attendees 

Many conferences have a niche focus i.e. some will better showcase education technology and CRM systems, and look to connect universities and colleges with suppliers. 

Others will offer academic staff an exhibition hall full of vendors to help with student recruitment, while some will be an opportunity for university and college admissions staff to hear about each other's best practices. 

Make sure you know who is attending your desired conference and who to expect to see there - that way you can plan your strategy and know what materials or preparations you need to make yourself. 

3. Plan your time in advance

Everyone will advise you to prepare well by researching sessions, reading abstracts, and looking up speakers on LinkedIn. While it is important to spend time listening to speakers and sessions relevant to what you are looking for, also make time to explore new subject areas to bring back best practice learning to colleagues. 

Most vendors or exhibitors allow you to book a slot in advance to meet up with them. Do this early and slot in your meetings in amongst your favorite sessions and networking events.

4. Prepare to network 

While conferences may be a welcomed break away from the office, it doesn't mean you are going for a holiday. 

This is especially the case if you are traveling alone or as a small team. There can be a lot of ground to cover and a lot of people to speak to.

Conferences are a global mixing pot of ideas - take the time to speak to higher ed experts from around the world to find out how they are managing their student recruitment, or discuss the latest trends they are seeing.

Networking does not only include meetings and talking to people at the conference, but also connecting via social media once the conference is over, or following up over email.

5. Define your budget before you go

If you are attending a conference with the goal of entering a new partnership with a vendor or supplier, make sure you have your budget defined by management or finance teams before attending. 

This allows you to explore all of the options available to you and streamline which products you can realistically look at. 

It is always worth speaking to a number of vendors regardless of budget, as deals and discounts can be offered at conferences that don't normally apply.


Conferences are a perfect opportunity for all higher education staff to better their knowledge and understand what is happening in the industry worldwide. 

Global perspectives and insights can be shared from college to college, all with the intention of bettering your skills and knowledge. 

Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve from a conference will help ensure you make it as successful as possible for you and your higher ed institution. 

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