News from Adam

Welcome to the latest edition of our CEO’s column News From Adam.

Vietnam has long been an important part of the NEAS footprint. On my recent visit there I was overwhelmed by the energy, dynamism, and sheer creativity of the people. Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi both buzz with more than the traffic that I encountered crossing the road! 

I visited existing and potential NEAS members in the university, conventional stand alone, online, and private multi-campus sectors. These are all English language teaching operations of significant scale, and it is very exciting to hear them spell out the future as they saw it. Varied as these plans were, I picked up a few consistent themes that I thought I might share with you:

Language learning has become very closely tied to proficiency test preparation in Vietnam. I know this from my time managing centres in Vietnam where the parents of the mostly young students are looking for recognised, standard and measurable outcomes for the investment they make. Interestingly though, I had some feedback that this focus on specific standardised testing may be peaking. Competition from direct entry pathway programs appears to be gaining some momentum. I also noted marketing for strong differentiated product lines. In other words, branded programs of learning activity, and specifically enrolments into programs for younger learners appears to be growing. This is also the case for online learning programs.

As always, it’s the teaching staff (and those managing them) who are dealing with quality at a day-to-day level, and the hunger for professional development among this group complemented the commitment to continuous improvement that I picked up from the leaders of these organisations. Key areas of interest for teachers were AI and how best to regulate its use, motivating students in the (mostly) monolingual context of Vietnam and the fascinating cultural interplay between Confucian-style learning approaches and the more critical, collaborative, and individualistic drivers that underlie western language learning pedagogies.

I’m very much looking forward to engaging closely with our Vietnamese member community in the coming months and have lots of ideas for developing the NEAS presence there. Of foremost interest for me is finding ways to build connections between this community and the other communities that exist under the NEAS umbrella, including our Australian members.

Of course, I’m here to convey all of this to you because I survived crossing the city streets!

July 2024

News from Adam

Welcome to the latest edition of our CEO’s column News From Adam.

I am often impressed at the diversity that exists in our membership. The settings vary (from universities and TAFE to stand-alone centres) as do the locations (from every state in Australia to a range of global locations). I’m lucky enough to have had the satisfaction of working in a range of settings and in different programs.

One of my career highlights was working with a high school preparation program for international students preparing for entry to private schools in Sydney. The challenges were so very different. These were kids and they came with all the issues kids have. Of course, as always, it’s never “just English”. In this case, it was creating carefully tailored programs of study for teenagers, thinking about the safest and best homestay arrangements, handling the odd melt-down and bringing into place a range of specialist supports. It was complex, challenging and there were some failures here and there.

What lingers most in my memory about that time in my career was the powerful collegiality existing across the high school sector. As with our broader sector, people were willing to give and to share and find common solutions to specific problems. This willingness to collaborate makes us special in ELT and I’m so pleased that NEAS, being of and for its members, is able to reflect and facilitate this wonderful attribute through our Communities of Practice (CoPs).

NEAS is hosting a high school CoP in Brisbane on the 26th of July on the theme of Language, Learning, Leadership: Empowering Young ESL Students for Success. We’re planning this to be a great opportunity for sharing, debating and considering the issues specific to High School. Discussions may include adapting to regulatory changes, engaging with onshore families, and recognising the importance of homestay experiences in fostering cultural awareness. Additionally, it highlights the significance of enhancing academic skills through multidisciplinary approaches and acknowledges the significance of developing students’ language skills and leadership qualities in helping and guiding young ESL students.

For more details and to register, click here.

June 2024

News from Adam

Welcome to the latest edition of our CEO’s column News From Adam.

The government’s recently announced legislative changes to the ESOS Act and the agenda they have described in their draft consultation document, Australia’s International Education and Skills Strategic Framework, gives us pause as a community to stop and reflect.  

It’s so very encouraging that the government is placing quality and integrity at the centre of their reforms. At NEAS, those two words “quality” and ”integrity” sit at the core of who we are. We are very well positioned to support the government in its understanding of the impact its suggested changes will have on our sector. For example, is the government aware of just how fundamental international education and migration has been, and still is, to our economy? International students are an important labour source across a range of skill levels. These skills are learned through courses at the education providers affected by the changes.  

It’s important for them to be armed with an understanding of the various nuances that exist within our sector. Universities are very different from TAFE providers, stand-alone ELICOS centres, and cross-sector private providers. NEAS knows the differences between this diversity of international education provision, and so understands the very meaning of quality in each of these contexts. Let’s not forget too, that NEAS quality assures in related areas of policy concern for the government. Namely, homestay provision. Has the government considered quality provision in this sector as a means of solving accommodation shortages? It is widely used by international students, young and old, and might be another avenue of consideration to support the incentive they are offering universities to deliver to students beyond their caps. NEAS is close to the homestay provider industry, and recently launched the NEAS Homestay Standards, which would facilitate improved quality capacity. 

Finally, NEAS is ready to engage with the government and similar member associations such as us, to achieve the best outcomes for everyone. 

May 2024

News from Adam

Welcome to the latest edition of our CEO’s column News From Adam.

It’s strategic planning time at NEAS. We’ve been looking ahead, making decisions about where we want to be. You’d appreciate that this process has me doing some research, reflecting and, well, thinking fairly deeply about NEAS. In addition to all the usual market statistics and scans of our environment, I’ve been looking at documents from the past: board papers, financials, considerations of ways forward from others, strategic plans of the past. It’s fascinating. And what have I synthesised from all of this? NEAS has had some great staff and leaders in its midst (really, it has a history of contribution!) but there is an essence to NEAS that is somehow greater than any individual board member, employee or CEO, for that matter. The dedication to quality runs throughout, of course, and so it should!  For me, though, NEAS has always been about its membership.
And now?
NEAS is a community of ELT providers (and others!) banded by quality. It still is an association of members. Our new strategic plan will put members first. We offer great value, and we’re going to continue increasing that value to a growing, diversifying membership. In building communities, NEAS aims to meet the needs of its sponsors and other partners too. We feed an ecosystem of collaboration and innovation for our sector, with various parties making different contributions. Let’s not forget the role we play for students and the broader community. We’re a community that gives or shares, and this too will be part of our new plan.

NEAS is a forward-looking, learning organisation and I’m filled with anticipation for our future.  The near future holds our upcoming conference on May 9 and 10. I’ll be talking to you then about NEAS, its past, its present and its future, so I’ll stop now to hold you in some suspense! And if you’re not interested in any of this navel gazing: no worries! There are some excellent speakers of insight and intelligence lined up.
We’re making arrangements to fit in some extra places, but you’ve really got to get in and register now. It’s filling up.

April 2024

News from Adam

Welcome to the latest edition of our CEO’s column News From Adam.

NEAS was well received by senior officials from the Education Department in Canberra last week. NEAS board member David Riordan and myself introduced them to the recently launched NEAS Homestay Standards. We also explained the NEAS Agent Quality Endorsement process. Both of these initiatives and the following they have attracted demonstrate the important leadership role taken by NEAS. We’re taking an active role in showing the way to quality improvement across a range of functions within our sector. Worth noting too is that these initiatives began some time ago. They weren’t reactions to passing trends. Don’t get me wrong. Responding to policy changes as they emerge is critical for us all. We’re subject to these forces and we must be responsive. What I’m saying though is that it’s important to be invested across time. And NEAS is invested. We’re looking forwards, finding insights in advance of what might be required right now. Another example is our quality standards for online English programs. Did you know these were developed before the COVID lock downs when we were all forced into online learning? The international student recruitment pipeline to Australia is suffering right now and I know budgets are tight. But playing the long game with us is important.

I am very grateful to David for his help in securing these meetings and his help had me reflecting on the value of the NEAS board. They’re a highly skilled group of individuals and by definition professional. Their number includes those elected by you as well as some from related sectors (such as David, a former TAFE Director) and others from industries and pursuits not directly related to ELT, including the important task of board sitting itself. Our model of governance gives us great strength.

Can I finish with some news that the NEAS Management Conference is nearing capacity in registrations. We’re not there yet. There are places available but our venue is smaller this year and we’ve chosen a “closer” format. It’s going to be great but only if you get in now. It will provide insight into the future and the drivers of that future. The future’s worth the investment… Right?

March 2024

News from Adam

As the new CEO at NEAS Australia, Adam Kilburn will be sharing regular insights with us through this column News From Adam. This week brings you his second update. 

One of the great things about NEAS is its international profile. With a membership that extends well beyond Australia, NEAS is a global community for those committed to improvement. I’m off overseas today to attend the CamTESOL conference in Cambodia at which NEAS is to be acknowledged for its ongoing commitment to this highly celebrated event.  CamTESOL draws professionals working in our sector from around the world, including a good number of our members, both from Australia and the south-east Asian region. I hope to meet some of you there.

Of course, NEAS has its own thought-leading event: the annual NEAS Management Conference to be held on the 9th and 10th of May in Sydney. We have an exciting mix of speakers engaging with us on the theme of “Quality Revolution”. Change – and hasn’t there been a lot of it lately (!?) – forces us to rethink our way to excellence. New modes of delivery; artificial intelligence; working remotely now feature prominently in our professional lives. So, given these changes, the questions are: has excellence changed? Has our way of getting there changed?  I’m really looking forward to hearing from our speakers and discussing these questions with you at the conference.     Registrations are now open but note that our format has changed this year. There are limited places. Please get in soon and register​​​​​​​.

As always, I am keen to hear from you. Please feel free to get in touch with me directly. Although we’re dispersed across the world, I’m interested in learning more about you in your own setting so that NEAS can be the most integrated, member-focused, thoughtful, and community-responsive quality organisation in our sector!

February 2024

New CEO Update February 2024

Adam Kilburn

Chief Executive Officer

T: +61 2 90559275

M: +61 411279927

Dear Valued Quality Member,

In my first few weeks at NEAS, I am reminded of what a privilege it is to work within the ELT sector. We’re a diverse group with an important unifying purpose. We support people through change. Our students progress in proficiency and articulate pathways. They find new ways to be, and they do this in the diversity of settings we provide, operating across continents, with the aid of partnerships, using new and different models. Our sector is vibrant, dynamic and people centred. There is just so much innovation and change out there! 

NEAS is an organisation I’ve come to know over my many years in the sector. Always (and still!) committed to quality, NEAS is in essence an organisation of and for its membership. Diverse this membership may be, but common to all is a shared motivation for improvement. This can be challenging, especially in the face of change which seems to keep accelerating.  To meet this challenge, our ELT communities matter. Indeed, they are fundamental to the broader education sector, especially as that sector defines itself internationally.

I plan to deliver the best for our membership first by articulating aspiration, then by finding shared points of interest; mobilising the power of our communities; and adding value in the spirit of getting better. NEAS will be the “go to” thought leader in quality and improvement for our sector and it will do so within an environment that I know will continue to evolve in ways we don’t yet know. Because quality isn’t about ticking boxes. That’s too static. Quality is a broader, richer, more complex, and energising concept operating in multiple dimensions from edtech and technology to micro-credentialling, from stand-alone ELICOS to integrated cross sector pathways, both public and private and across the globe

Let me learn with you.  I’ve already started getting out and about meeting people in English language centres and those in business that support education providers. My goal especially in these first few months will be to listen. I encourage you to contact me. Tell me what you think. What are your aspirations and how can NEAS help you realise them.

As always, we thank you for your loyalty and commitment to QA in ELT and remain at your service. 

February 2024