The European Association for International Education (EAIE) conference is the premier international education event for Europe. This year from September 11-14th over 5,700 attendees from 95 countries converged on Geneva to celebrate 30 years of meeting to promote international education exchange.
International credential evaluators identify with the expert community (EAIE’s name for professional sections) of Admissions and Recognition (A&R). A&R professionals joined others in attending university tours, workshops, sessions, poster sessions, plenaries, and networking events. Vendors crowded the exhibition hall and chocolate treats were plentiful. After all, we were in Switzerland! Many vendors and organizations sponsored off-site receptions where the business of international education was conducted informally…sometimes into the wee hours.
A&R offerings were varied and provided broad information for credential evaluation professionals. There were two workshops focusing on 1) best practices in evaluating foreign credentials and 2) online verification, accreditation resources, and non-verifiable documents. Out of 12 A&R sessions and seven poster sessions, about six were focused on countries or specific information and skills for credential evaluators, including sessions on detecting fraudulent documents from Africa and the Middle East, evaluating Ukrainian documents, and understanding Chinese secondary credentials.
Of the other 13 A&R sessions and poster sessions, some focused on trends, such as MOOCs, welcoming refugees, and digital student and admission data. Others dealt with issues such as lowering dropout rates, the integrity of language tests, and quality assurance of joint programs.
There were a variety of differing session formats, and new initiatives were announced. Programming on the needs of refugees sponsored by a new task force on refugees was timely and helpful. Life skills sessions provided information on general professional development topics by outside experts. One on decision-making and critical thinking was excellent. The campfire sessions provided opportunities to discuss various topics informally.
Plenary sessions included a moving and inspiring Constance Meldrum Award for Vision and Leadership acceptance by Michael Ignatieff of the Central European University, Hungary. He reminded us about the importance of academic freedom and institutional independence. An entertaining yet thoughtful and timely keynote address by Sally Kohn on why we should not hate the people with whom we disagree resonated when so many of the attendees are experiencing polarization in their home countries. The insightful closing remarks by the environmental economist Leo Johnson posed some sobering thoughts, but provided hopeful perspectives.
Outgoing EAIE President Markus Laitinen delighted the audience as he presided over the conference by channeling the late and formidable Aretha Franklin and encouraged us to “THINK” about the importance of what international educators do. Given the challenges that we face in our times, he reminded us, in the words of Elroy Blues, that “we are on a mission from God.”
International credential evaluators everywhere should proudly acknowledge that their work is truly honorable and is a higher mission, indeed.
Margit Schatzman has been involved in international admissions and credential evaluation for over 30 years. She began at ECE in 1983 as an Evaluator. In 1985 she became Vice President. She has been president of ECE since January 1, 2007. She is a frequent speaker at U.S. and international conferences on topics such as credential evaluation principles and methods, and falsified and altered documents.