By Ann Koenig, AACRAO International Education Services
Where in the world were you at this year’s AACRAO Annual Meeting? Our annual conference in San Francisco offered a world of opportunity to participate in the continuing internationalization of AACRAO. This year we welcomed 141 conference participants from 35 countries outside of the United States, representing every continent except Antarctica.
An international panel introduced AACRAO to the Groningen Declaration, named after the city in the Netherlands in which it was drafted. The Groningen Declaration is a statement of commitment to student data portability by electronic means to support confidence in the authenticity of records and facilitate international academic mobility. Following a meeting about the Groningen Declaration held in China just before the Annual Meeting, AACRAO Executive Director Mike Reilly signed the statement on behalf of AACRAO at a well-attended general session.
International student documentation issues were featured in several educational sessions for admissions and registrar colleagues, which focused on best practices in international admissions and international student advising, as well as knowledge of foreign educational systems and the evaluation of international student records. Practical topics ranged from reading Pinyin for an understanding of Chinese naming conventions, to how to make optimal use of the AACRAO EDGE country education database in evaluating international academic records.
Colleagues shared success stories and cautionary tales in the areas of international student recruiting, developing international partnerships, and working with international students on campus. Presenters from abroad enlightened AACRAO members about trends and updates in their areas, such as the development of qualifications frameworks in many countries with centralized education and training systems, and international curriculum and examination services available to schools around the globe.
Pre-conference international activities included the first meeting of the newly-formed International Admissions and Credential Evaluation Task Force, which is tasked with strategic thought and recommendations for AACRAO's further development in these areas. A pre-conference workshop on academic credential fraud, with participants from North America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Caribbean, gave updates on a billion-dollar fraud industry that knows no borders.
AACRAO International Education Services once again was pleased to host EducationUSA and welcome its advisers from China, Mongolia, and Afghanistan. EducationUSA is a network of advising centers in 170 countries, where local students can access impartial, comprehensive, and current information about how to apply to accredited U.S. colleges and universities. The network is supported by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). Many EducationUSA centers offer preparation for study in the U.S., and U.S. standardized testing as well. EducationUSA advisers and staff work with U.S. higher education professionals to promote international student enrollment. EducationUSA also helps promote study abroad opportunities for U.S. citizens.
The AACRAO Annual Meeting is an excellent opportunity for U.S. admissions colleagues to meet advisers in person, learn about the work of EducationUSA, acquire knowledge about how their institutions can contribute, and discuss concrete ways in which EducationUSA can work with U.S. institutions to identify and connect with qualified students who are interested in studying here.
Presentations and handouts from the Annual Meeting can be found online at the AACRAO Web site.
Need help or support in your institution's commitment to internationalization? Our 100th Annual Meeting in Denver next year will reflect the continuing commitment of AACRAO to provide a global outlook on professional development and guidance in best practices to our colleagues in higher education near and far. We invite you to submit your proposals for Denver by May 15 as we look forward to making our 100th Annual Meeting another international event!