AUA at the Tertiary Education Management Conference 2016, New Zealand

Kathryn Whittingham MAUA | Head of Student Administration, Macquarie University

Kia Ora! I was honoured to be asked to represent the AUA at the 2016 joint conference between the Association for Tertiary Education Management (ATEM) and the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA), branded as TEMC (the Tertiary Education Management Conference) which was held at the SkyCity Conference Centre in Auckland, New Zealand.

The conference brings together over 900 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and beyond, and comprises three days of workshops and practice-based presentations, interspersed with key note presentations, refreshment breaks, and an exhibition hall for sponsors and other companies associated with the tertiary sector. Sound familiar? The format would certainly resonate with AUA colleagues… just with fewer pommie accents!

Kia ora is a Māori greeting that is now commonly used in New Zealand, and literally means ‘be well/healthy’ or ‘thank you’. (It is also the origin of the brand name for the orange drink, popular in the UK in the 1970s). Delegates were certainly given a very warm welcome on the first night by a trip to the impressive Auckland War Memorial Museum for drinks, nibbles, and a traditional haka display by a local Māori group.

The theme of this year’s conference was ‘From Rhetoric to Reality’ with concurrent sessions in property infrastructure, strategic alignment, opportunity, challenges, leadership, engagement, and technology. As with all these events, it was necessary to do some research before selecting session options in order to choose wisely. It was a shame that a few of them were not repeated through the conference, however, delegates are able to receive copies of presentations afterwards.

The size and diverse nature of a joint conference such as this does perhaps limit opportunities for networking and collaboration, something I know the AUA has grappled with in the past in relation to our own Annual Conference and Exhibition. However, it was interesting to slip into a couple of facilities sessions and hear about the challenges faced by colleagues coping with the soaring cost of energy, the need to embed sustainability in all manner of things to do with the estate, and delivery of a university’s master plan.

The conference brings together over 900 delegates from Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and beyond.

As part of my sponsorship, I delivered a presentation entitled ‘My brilliant career? Why nobody wants to be a University Administrator’, which suggested that ‘university administration’ is not a career that (m)any people choose from a young age. Often, we fall into it by chance, or just stay on as an extension of casual employment whilst a student in our own university or college. This I have found to be true in both the UK and Australasian HE sectors, and I described some work I have been doing with my own department at Macquarie, using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to recognise different personality types and how, in particular, introverted teams, seemingly common in our industry, can put the ‘oomph’ back into university administration. I introduced the talk with a brief history of the AUA, its membership and professional development activities, including the PgCert, and this seemed to be of interest to a number of the delegates, along with the implications for the UK following the Brexit vote.

Many thanks, AUA, for giving me the opportunity to hop ‘across the ditch’ and represent our organisation at a ‘sister’ conference. Kia ora!



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