The International Exposition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE) is held annually in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Conference organizers invited a select group of international, and Saudi, higher education institutions. The conference provides an avenue for Saudi high school and university students interested to learn about their options to study both at home and abroad. It is also an opportunity for education entities to exchange ideas and forge working relationships. IECHE is open to the public, and at times has hosted over 325,000 visitors throughout the week.
Instructors from the UT Global Initiative for Education and Leadership (UTGI) and UTeach-Liberal Arts (UTeach-LA) represented The University of Texas at Austin at the Spring 2013 International Exhibition and Conference on Higher Education (IECHE). The annual exhibition takes place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with this year’s theme “The Social Responsibility of the University” emphasizing the role played by higher education institutions in society today.
In Saudi Arabian Minister of Higher Education Khalid Bin Abdul Aziz Al-Anqari’s opening speech, he highlighted the objectives of IECHE and its goal to enhance cooperation between Saudi universities and their peers abroad. The four days of the exhibition included conferences, seminars, and meetings, with 81 workshops in addition to an assortment of public lectures given by 21 international experts. Over 475,000 local, regional, and international visitors came seeking to learn from higher education experts.
U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia James B. Smith was joined at the conference by 87 American colleges and universities. Many of these, including The University of Texas at Austin, hosted workshops about topics ranging from “Filmmaking & Photography” to “Conducting and Publishing Research.” Attendees from Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries were given the opportunity to learn what it’s like to study in the United States, Europe, and other regions; local universities also provided information at the fair. UTGI showcased their teacher training, exchange, and executive education programs.
“Educational ties between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are an important part of the relationship between our two countries,” Ambassador Smith said in a letter to prospective students attending the conference.
Beyond exhibiting at IECHE, members of UTGI and UTeach-LA hosted additional workshops and training sessions while in Riyadh on topics such as teacher training concepts and professional development.
“The programs and services offered by the Global Initiative enable UT to expand its work with universities and organizations in the region,” Richard Flores, director of UTGI and senior associate dean of academic affairs for the College of Liberal Arts, said. “This is a unique opportunity for UT to have a positive impact by utilizing our capacities and expertise as well as networking with educators from the region and around the globe.”
UTGI and UTeach-LA leaders also met with representatives from several organizations in the region in order to explore other possibilities for international cooperation.