Submission tips

Is this your first time submitting for AIEC and you’re not sure where to start? Or perhaps you have submitted a proposal before but have been unsuccessful?

The following advice is intended to help you craft a strong proposal. Watch this special Call for Proposal: Information webinar recording and hear directly from the Program Committee.


Think of the audience: ensure your proposal is relevant to international education

AIEC is not just an education conference, so it’s important that your session is relevant to international education professionals working specifically in the international education sector.

Before you conceptualise your proposal, think about the intended audience and what they will want to take away from your session.

Find out more about who attends AIEC.

Innovative, applicable, insightful and evidence-based

The selection of proposals is very competitive, so proposals that stand out:

  • present new information and ideas, not just repeating what is available publicly
  • showcase good practice and solution-based approaches and provide practical examples
  • provide sound data, draw insights and recommend courses of action
  • present data from evidence-based research.

If you can tick all of the above and also nominate a subject matter expert to present, your proposal will be scored favourably.

Pick the right format for your content

The conference is offering three types of presentation/session formats, so please keep the purpose and target audience in mind when deciding the most appropriate delivery format: a five-minute ‘Inspire’ video, a single 30-minute session or a double session (two slots of 30 minutes).

Single 30-minute slots are a great option if the purpose is to present data insights, market intelligence or survey findings. These sessions allow subject matter experts to present data and research findings in more didactic and traditional form. Alternatively, they are also a great option for a one-on-one interview or Q&A with an expert speaker. A formal presentation is not mandatory.

Double-session slots are perfect for more in-depth exploration of a particular subject, especially when there are two speakers from different organisations presenting different perspectives on the same matter. The first 30 minutes will be dedicated to formal presentations, followed by a more interactive 30-minute slot dedicated to Q&A or discussion.

‘Inspire’ videos are perfect for single presenters on a single subject. As the word suggests, they are meant to inspire and lead to further discussion and exploration during the conference. They do not require a formal presentation and the video can be anything you want. They are a perfect platform to present a case study, an initiative or a call to action. ‘Inspire’ videos will all be pre-recorded and available on the virtual platform two weeks before the event. 'Inspire' presenters who are accepted into the conference program will be asked to also host braindates during the conference.

If your proposal would only appeal to a very small number of people (under 30) you’ll have a better chance to be accepted if you consider presenting the information as an ‘Inspire’ video.

Ensure your title can stand alone

The Pocket Planner at the conference will only include the title of your session (not the full abstract), so it’s important to think about the content of your title. Use key words in the title that reflect the content of your abstract and learning objectives, not just a generic title.

It’s common to go for the quirky or goofy title, to the detriment of a meaningful, albeit slightly more boring title. While an outside-the-box title can sometimes be the right way to go (there have been great examples in the past), please ask yourself first whether this title can stand alone and whether it provides readers with a good idea of what the presentation will be about, without having to read the abstract.

Write a strong abstract

Use the abstract text field in the submission form to set the scene by providing background information, explaining the issue or challenge or identifying the process or methodology. For example:

  • What was the purpose of the survey? Who participated in it? Who commissioned the research? If it’s an annual survey, what’s different from previous years if it has been presented at AIEC before? Don’t give away the findings though! 
  • If you are presenting a case study, explain the purpose and objectives of the study and describe the methods used.
  • If you are presenting and/or discussing market intelligence and data insights, tease out some of the insights, but don’t give away the key results or surprises – tantalise rather than tell-all.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Be concise – the abstract is only 200 words, so it’s important that you get straight to the point and tell us what your session will address.
  • Don’t just set up the question or state the obvious; make sure the abstract conveys the focus of the session.
  • Avoid fillers and jargon and use keywords relevant to your topic.

Clearly articulate the learning outcomes of your session

The learning objectives section must clearly articulate what delegates will take out of the session or presentation. For example:

  • Will they come away with a toolkit and ‘how to’ manual they can apply when they return to the office?
  • Will they learn about innovative approaches to a common institutional challenge?

This information will also be key for reviewers to determine whether there is a practical application to your session.

Ensure the title, abstract and learning objectives accurately reflect what you will present in your session

Your title, abstract and learning objectives will be published in the conference program. Delegates may decide whether to attend your session based on the abstract or just the title. It is important that delegates are not misled and that your abstract and title truly reflect the content that will be delivered in your session.

Ensure that the information in the 'Outline' matches the information you submit in the title, abstract and learning objectives.

Do not force the theme into your proposal

Please do not try to force the conference theme into your title. If there is a clear connection to the theme, this should naturally come through in the abstract and learning objectives.

We ask that you focus your content on one of this year’s key subthemes: global challenges, digital innovation, policy and politics, life and learning or strategic insights.

Don’t give us a sales pitch

One of the most common reasons for rejection is when an abstract comes across as a sales pitch.

Speakers from specific companies or company representatives that may appear on the program are chosen because they are bringing lessons learned from a peer-to-peer perspective, and not because they are delivering a sales pitch. The main challenge for you, especially if you work in the PR or marketing department of your organisation, will be to figure out how your talk can contribute to the industry and then to articulate that. It’s about what you’ve learned, not about how great your product is.


Take the time to check grammar and spelling

This may seem obvious, but please ensure you check your proposal for typos, grammar and spelling mistakes.

Spelling mistakes and poor grammar aren’t necessarily grounds for rejection, but they reflect a lack of attention to detail. This may suggest to the reviewers that a similar lack of care could be applied when preparing for the actual presentation at the conference.


Prepare in advance

Please do not wait until the eleventh hour to start your proposal. The online form requires you to provide a lot of information; you will need time to collect and review all the details.

Also, you have to include speaker profiles, so you will need to gather these from your co-speakers in advance.

We encourage you to write your proposal offline in a Word document and share the draft with your co-speakers. You can then you copy-and-paste the corrected and final version into the online form.

Read session abstracts from previous conferences

Before you start your proposal, read examples of sessions on the website from last year’s conference in Perth. It will give you a good idea of the tone, topics and angles that tend to fit the conference.

You can also view titles and topics presented at previous conferences (without abstracts or learning objectives). We want to avoid repeating the exact same topics from one year to the next, so we suggest the reading as background only as it’s a good way to get of a sense of what has been recently presented and how titles and abstracts should be focused.

Tips on how to prepare a successful submission for #aiec2020 #callforproposals