Wittenborg Rep Michael Sheppard Attends First ICEF in South Asia

Wittenborg Rep Michael Sheppard Attends First ICEF in South Asia
Sheppard (Right) with a colleague at ICEF Mumbai

Mike in Mumbai

Recently, Wittenborg Recruitment & Sales Representative Michael Sheppard had the privilege of attending the International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) conference in Mumbai, India, at the Westin Mumbai Powai Lake hotel. This event has the distinction of being the first ICEF conference to ever take place in South Asia. From 6 to 8 February, recruitment agents from across South Asia, including India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – with others across the world – met with one another to trade ideas and create a stronger network for international education. “The purpose of the trip was to meet with our existing agents to show gratitude for their continued hard work, as well as building relationships with new agents,” Sheppard explains.

Around 400 professionals were in attendance, all of them having been pre-screened to ensure they meet the robust standards of the ICEF organising committee. Approximately 175 higher learning institutions were represented, with 175 agents and 50 service providers also present to connect with one another as some of the top education experts in the world. All were eager to partake in ICEF’s expansion into the South Asian region.  Sheppard says, “Networking is especially important, and I managed to spend a lot of time with some key people socially as well as during the meetings.”

He highlights the positive and productive environment at the conference. “The atmosphere was great, full of productive energy,” he enthuses. Part of what makes conferences like ICEF so compelling is that professional networking events are interspersed with fun nights which showcase local traditions and culture. “The best event was definitely Tuesday evening, where they had a live DJ with Bhangra dancers, who performed and then joined the participants on the dance floor to teach us some Indian dance moves.” 

South Asian talent on the rise

Recently, the South Asian region has overtaken China as the world’s largest source of international academic talent. The largest contributing factor to the marked decline of Chinese students is perhaps the COVID-19 restrictions in the country. During 2021, the share of Chinese international students declined by about 25%, while other highly populated countries like India saw a 27% increase in international enrolments during the same period. However, as China lifts restrictions and begins to allow international travel – despite other countries imposing restrictions on Chinese travellers – this may change in the future. At Wittenborg, a significant portion of the student body and core members of staff come from South Asia. As of last year, close to 20% of students at Wittenborg hail from South Asia.

Wittenborg is happy to see the world recognise the value of academic talent coming from this region, and is excited to see how the business school’s connections in South Asia will positively impact the world of international education.

WUP 17/02/2023
by Olivia Nelson
©WUAS Press