Your 2020 Higher Education Conference Calendar

8 min read

Ashley Murphy

IMG-6768EDITOR's NOTE: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, most physical conferences have now been postponed or cancelled for 2020. We look forward to updating this post with a number of exciting events for 2021 (and virtual events for the remainder of 2020).

Conferences can be an excellent way for higher education professionals to meet other like-minded individuals and groups, share great ideas and stay up-to-date on the latest practices and trends within the industry.

When it comes to the internationalisation of higher education, these events can prove to be even more vital as an opportunity for the creation and development of cooperation and agreement between institutions and organisations. Not to mention an excellent chance to swap out the office for a culturally enriching experience in a new city or country.

But with so many different higher education conferences to choose from, how do you know which is the right one for you? We decided to give you a head start by picking out some of the best higher education conferences scheduled for 2020.

1. NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference & Expo

(pictured above)  

Location: St. Louis, USA, May 24th-29th, 2020.

The Association of International Educators (NAFSA) is one of the world's biggest networks dedicated to international education. The non-profit has over 10,000 members working at 3,500 institutes across the globe.

This year's conference takes place at The America's Center Convention Complex, where world-leading academics will discuss the three big I's in international education - "Innovate, Influence, Impact."

The conference will also focus on the value of promoting human rights and advocating for social justice, and how supporting international education helps revitalize local economies. Held annually in the United States,  the NAFSA annual conference is frequently considered one the top international events on the higher education calendar each year. 

Not to be missed by: any higher education professionals or representatives with interests in international higher education. 

2.EAIE: European Association for International Education Annual Conference

Location and date: Barcelona, Spain, Sept 15th-18th, 2020.

The 2020 EAIE annual conference is all about creativity, so this year the conference is heading to one of the most creative places in Europe — Barcelona. Along with its unique architecture and long, artistic tradition, Barcelona is among the highest-ranking smart cities in the world.

Expect fascinating talks on innovative new approaches to the design, delivery, and impact of international education, along with a look at how Barcelona's smart approach to city life could help build a greener and safer future for everyone.

A must for international educators, especially those in Europe! Despite being a European event, expect to see a large gathering of educators from across the world attend also.

Not to be missed by: like NAFSA, EAIE is great for anyone with an interest in international higher ed, but with a Euro focus.

3. APAIE 2020 Conference & Exhibition

The Asia-Pacific Association for International Education

Location and date: Vancouver, Canada, March 22nd-26th, 2020.

Every year, the APAIE Conference welcomes thousands of professionals with a stake in the Asia-Pacific international education industry, including university presidents and professors, government policymakers, and activists dedicated to advancing opportunities for indigenous and migrant communities. 

The 2020 conference will tackle the shifting tide of geopolitics and its consequences for international education. Specific themes include interculturalization and internationalization, international cooperation, and the changing demands of education in the 21st century.

The keynote speaker is the acclaimed commentator and journalist Fareed Zakaria. The author of In Defense of a Liberal Education (2015) and The Future of Freedom (2003) was named as a ‘Top 100 Global Thinker’ by Foreign Policy magazine, while Esquire magazine referred to him as “the most influential foreign policy adviser of his generation.”

Not to be missed by: educators and organisations with interests in the Asia-Pacific region.

4. AMBA & BGA Global Conference

(Association of MBAs & Business Graduates Association)

Location and date: Hungary, Budapest, May 11th-13th, 2020.

The 2020 AMBA & BGA global conference brings together deans and directors to address the issues affecting business schools and MBA providers. Speakers include deans from some of the best business schools in the world, as well as leading CEOs and entrepreneurs.

Organizers have put together a well-balanced program of events to look at both the local and global challenges that every business school must overcome in the coming decade.

Not to be missed by: deans and directors of business schools and MBA programs.

5. 2020 AMA Symposium for the Marketing of Higher Education

Location and date: Chicago, USA, Nov 15th-18th, 2020

The AMA annual conference is an international education marketer's dream. Packed with great speakers and industry-leading experts, you'll also get a chance to mingle and network with over 1,200 fellow professionals.

As always, the AMA is emphasizing the importance of collaboration and open dialogue, encouraging visitors to share their best practices in an attempt to raise the global standard for international education. And expect to see a big focus on one of the fastest-growing areas of international education — adult online learning.

Not to be missed by: higher education marketing professionals.

6. ICEF Berlin Annual Conference

Location and date: Berlin – November 1st-3rd, 2020

With roadshows taking place across locations in Japan and Korea later this the month before an array of global events over the year, the annual ICEF global conference in Berlin is a keynote event for many educators, giving them the opportunity to meet the very best student recruitment agencies in one place.

ICEF has carefully selected every agency through its strict vetting process. Agents are required to provide several references from their international partners and records that show a history of placing students at top international schools and institutes.

Despite being a hub for meeting with agencies, ICEF also holds many opportunities for universities to meet directly with other academic partners and service providers such as Keystone Academic Solutions.

Not to be missed by: schools and universities working with agencies, language schools and service providers within the higher education industry.

7. AIEC: Australian International Education Conference

Location and date: Gold Coast, Australia, Oct 13th-16th, 2020.

Once again, the AIEC conference is set to be Australia's standout event for international education. And as we're already into a new decade, organizers have decided to see what the next ten years has in store for international education. Themed 20/20 Vision: Insights for the Decade Ahead", the 2020 event will see world-leading experts make their best predictions for the coming decade, offering up their unique solutions to the challenges that lie ahead.

There's also a packed social calendar, including a welcome reception, conference dinner, and orientation session for first-time attendees. The AIEC is well known for its international flavor, with over 25% of the delegates traveling from overseas. It's the perfect place to meet teaching staff, researchers, and policymakers from every corner of the globe.

Not to be missed by: those with higher education interests within Australasia.

8. CLADEA: The Latin American Council of Management Schools Annual Conference

Location and date: Guadalajara, Mexico, Oct 21st-23rd, 2020.

In October this year, the Latin American Council of Management Schools will host its 55th annual conference in Guadalajara, Mexico. Titled "The future of work, the social impact and the role of business schools," the 2020 event will analyze the social and economic conditions across South America and how they may impact the future of business schools on the continent.

And as schools try to find the right balance between encouraging economic growth and sustainable living, finding a new set of ethical 21st-century business practices will be a primary concern for many of the attendees. Ignacio de la Vega is the academic chair for CLADEA 2020. He said, "Business schools have a responsibility to train conscious leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, capable of reinventing themselves and their organizations, to respond to the challenges of the environment."

Not to be missed by: Latin American management schools and potential partners and organisations.

9. Project 5-100: The Russian Academic Excellence Project Conference

Location and date: Krasnoyarsk, Russia, March - April 31st-1st, 2020.

Project 5-100 has one goal: to put Russia's leading universities on par with the top global research institutes, making them a serious player in the international education market. The Project 5-100 network consists of 21 Russian universities that have produced over 20 Nobel prize-winning laureates, so they’re already well on their way.

Academics, deans, and marketers from the best colleges in the country will all be attending this year’s conference, as well as top officials from the Russian government. Through a series of guest lectures, workshops, and panel discussions, they'll discuss strategic plans to turn the Project 5-100 vision into a reality.

Not to be missed by: partners or those interested in working towards the internationalisation efforts and goals of Russian universities.

10. NACAC: National Association for College Admission Counseling Annual Conference

Location and date: Minneapolis, USA, Sept 24th-26th, 2020

Every year, NACAC holds an event for college counselors and admissions professionals. Registration opens in March and potential visitors should apply sooner rather than later as demand is always high.

In addition to a series of lectures, workshops, and presentations, NACAC also hosts a large exhibition where practitioners and professionals can share their latest ideas on streamlining the college admission process and boosting the overall well-being of the student body. Last year's highlights were stalls promoting on-campus yoga sessions and the introduction of therapy dogs to help students cope with pre-exam anxiety.

As you can see, there's an exciting year ahead for anyone interested in attending higher education conferences. Just remember to book your spot and hotel as soon as possible when deciding to attend! We wouldn't want you to miss out.

Not to be missed by: admissions specialists and recruitment counsellors, with a focus on the United States.


Writer's note: This list above is a selection of higher education conferences, and should not be considered exhaustive.

If you notice anything is printed in error, please let us know here.

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