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If the beginning of a new year is a time to refocus, reprioritise and take stock of what is important, then the start of 2022 has to be one of the most important reboots yet!

Over the last two years the higher education sector has been understandably preoccupied by the pandemic, by survival. 2022 is the year in which the sector must shine a light back on what motivated many of us to work in higher education and what makes it such an inspiring place to work: the students.

Lockdowns and border closures coupled with budget constraints have wreaked havoc and institutions around the world have felt the economic impact. Our research into institutional needs across the major destinations has shown that the pressure to recruit students in larger volumes has intensified.

The challenges have been immense. Out of necessity, have we focused too much on the bottom line, on bums on seats (excuse the pun)? Has this led us to look for new or easy solutions that may, in time, be to the detriment of our sector?

Higher education, and particularly the recruitment of students, is increasingly a target for investment, something we should all encourage but at the same time be discerning of. There is a danger that quick-win outcomes for institutions could be damaging to students’ ability to make the right choices for them.

The pace at which we have seen academic and professional services staff within institutions move to teach online and digitalise their support models has been nothing short of miraculous. With many of these processes in place, however, as a sector we now need to shift our attention to the tangible needs of students and deliver the best outcomes for them.

I am confident that 2022 will mark a new phase, a global rebound. It is my belief that this transition should be marked with a return to the essence of what we stand for as a sector. Prospective and current students have made life-changing sacrifices over the last two years.

Now is the time for the sector to pay it back to those we serve: students.

This generation of students have shown extraordinary patience and resilience in the face of one of the most challenging periods in recent history. Let’s bring our collective attention back to how we can support our students to help make their higher education dreams come true.

I am proud that IDP, as an organisation, are resolutely student first in our values. We truly believe if we get it right for students then everything else falls into place for our partners.

We have a responsibility to students to guide them and help them to make the right decisions for their future.

With this in mind, we are seeing tremendous demand from our students for Australia and New Zealand. We are increasing our investment across Australia and New Zealand to support students’ dreams to study abroad and fulfill their academic and career aspirations.

As the world begins to reopen, nations and economies will need highly educated, global citizens to rebuild. Higher education will power this effort and IDP stands side by side with institutions to maximise the impact of the bounce back.

Wishing you a very happy 2022.

Simon Emmett

IDP Connect CEO

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Simon Emmett10 January 2022