Welcome to EAIE Liverpool 2016

Welcome to EAIE Liverpool 2016

Over 5000 professionals from the field of international higher education have made their way to Liverpool from more than 90 countries to experience our conference first-hand. The event’s official kickoff is today, with Opening Plenary Keynote speaker Richard Gerver setting the stage for an incredibly inspirational week. Your schedule will fill up before you know it, so be sure to start your conference week right at the Opening Reception and don’t miss the opportunity to start exploring our Exhibition Hall today!

This morning, things started on a musical note in Liverpool – which, if you know anything about our host city, is hardly a surprise. EAIE President Laura Howard officially opened the 28th Annual EAIE Conference and welcomed Joe Anderson, Mayor of Liverpool, on stage. After a warm and official welcome from our host city’s Mayor, a representative from the local higher education system took the stage. The Vice-President of the EAIE – soon to be President, by the end of the week – then rewarded the accomplishments of three exceptional EAIE members by presenting them with EAIE Awards.

Child-like wonder

Keynote speaker Richard Gerver is a true educator – of young children, in his 20 years as headmaster of a school, but also of adults as he now invites us to bring some of our childhood imagination back into our work. The naïveté you have “before anyone has told you of the risks of getting things wrong” may only be possible when you’re very young, but dreading change and relying solely on existing structures to better our institutions is a logical fallacy. Daring to do things differently and potentially failing can be more productive than continuing down a path that we know isn’t delivering what you dream of. Proactivity is the answer.
It takes an entire ecosystem of committed administrators, leaders and teaching staff for change and innovation to truly take off. Yet, creating this environment of commitment to change is often a challenge. Richard says that “some of your colleagues will be dreading you going back next week, thinking ‘what will we have to change now?’”. Yes, “people resent change if they think it’s reactive”. But if we can follow Richard’s advice and be proactive about improvement and making our vision come true, we can get our colleagues to see that change through creativity and innovation are important. After all, we can’t keep using “the same approaches and then marvel when they don’t work”.

Culture change

Those of us who give our all to the internationalisation of higher education at our institutions recognise Richard’s passion in claiming that what is needed is a culture change. Senior professionals at our institutions who sometimes block our initiatives feel a great responsibility to solve problems by themselves. The key, Richard says, is to make use of all of the great minds at our institutions and “share the load”, by finding the people who view a particular problem as an exciting challenge. “This change of culture can transform our imagination into reality and our dreams into aspirations.”

The day is just beginning

Today marks the beginning of a fantastic conference programme. But the exciting Opening Plenary is only the start of a full day of highlights: the EAIE Expert Community Feature sessions all take place today and the ‘Refugees in focus’ track is opened by the incredible Kilian Kleinschmidt (stay tuned for a full coverage of this Plenary later today).
Keep checking the EAIE blog and all of our social media channels for the latest coverage of the European international higher education event of the year! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for real-time updates and join the conversation on social media by using #EAIE2016.