BY S. INDRAMALAR
INTERNATIONAL alliances, mergers, global branding and public-private partnerships are increasingly the buzzwords of education – a business in which everyone wants a share. This scramble for the education pie will change the scope of education, especially its method, speed and extent of delivery.
Nowhere is the global growth of education as a business more apparent than at the World Education Market (WEM), which was incepted in 2001. An annual event, the WEM has been the place where the who’s who of education converge, discuss and, of course, wheel-and-deal.
Arguably the most comprehensive education industry event, the WEM is a meeting place for buyers, government decision-makers, leading institutions and world-class suppliers of the best and the latest in content, technology, solutions and expertise.
Says WEM director Elaine Legault: “Throughout the world, the educational sector is experiencing enormous pressures to come up with efficient and effective ways of delivering lifelong learning to a fast-growing number of individuals.
“Changes are coming about in what and how people learn, in the relationship between the public and private sectors and in how technology is harnessed to increase access and provide rich media learning experiences.
“These developments demand a rethink of how the different stakeholders may work together to solve common challenges. It is therefore not surprising to witness the emergence of consortia and alliances seeking to establish common standards, benchmark good practice or facilitate the delivery of education over networks.
“Increasingly,” she adds, “these collaborations are crossing borders to take place in the international arena. A dynamic marketplace is emerging as a result – one where resources, systems and expertise are being purchased, products and solutions are being adapted to meet local needs, and new initiatives are being launched, involving a full range of public and private sector partners.
“We have truly entered the era of borderless education – in both geographical and conceptual terms.”
Comprising an extensive exhibition, conference programme and networking events, the WEM has attracted a wide audience, particularly over the last two years. The WEM 2001 in Vancouver attracted 300 exhibitors while last year’s conference in Lisbon, Portugal, saw participation rise close to 2,000.
“WEM 2002 provided an active marketplace with a focus on business and relationship-building, both internationally and across the many market segments present. Welcoming 1,947 participants and 949 organisations from 71 countries, WEM confirmed its position as the leading international trade, partnership and networking forum for education decision- makers,” says Legault.
A breakdown of last year’s WEM participants showed that they comprised senior executives (28%), senior staff in academic and training institutions (23.4%), senior government representatives (20%) and marketing and sales executives (13%) with the remaining 15.6% comprising other educational leaders.
Of the total, the largest group (28.9%) was from the post-secondary and higher education sector, 27.1% from the primary and secondary education sector, 25.2% from corporate training and knowledge management, and the remaining 18.8% from the vocational and technical education sector.
Bigger and better
This year’s event promises bigger and better things. The WEM 2003 will be held in Lisbon from May 20 to 23. Some of the conference initiatives are:
There will be screenings, workshops and matchmaking events to facilitate the development of co-production agreements and synergies between key players in the audiovisual and new media industries.
These innovative centres will present their latest developments and begin a dialogue with funders, industry leaders and potential partners.
Millennium of learning
Themed Advancing the Millennium of Learning, the 2003 conference will focus on three main subjects – The Global View (which puts the international education marketplace and current developments into perspective), The Business Edge (strategies and tools for success) and The Learning Focus (highlighting good practice worldwide).
Among the confirmed keynote speakers are Carl Dahlman, a knowledge economy expert with the World Bank, and Viviane Reding, European Commissioner, DG Education and Culture.
To cap the conference programme, a range of networking events and special sessions are being developed to enhance exchanges between participants.
Among the sessions to be featured this year is the “Meeting of Like Minds” roundtable discussion.
To book a place at WEM 2003, contact Gail Phung at tel: 03 7806 2688. For more details on the event, visit www.wemex.com