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At this week’s Canadian Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) Summit, we discussed SEM leadership in times of disruption. We focused on how changes in institutional leadership, governments, and technologies affect SEM performance. In particular, we discussed the impact of disruption on building community and international engagement.
Some of our discussion points included:
- Who should be around the table when a disruption occurs? Are groups already formed, or is there a need to develop new groups?
- How do we get the data needed for decision-making? Some may already exist, but new data may also be needed.
- While disruption can leave us perplexed, we need to find ways to keep our sense of purpose while managing SEM during challenging and distracting times.
- Disruption can be an opportunity to try something new or to focus the institution more clearly on its educational values and aspirations.
- The growing challenge of maintaining data privacy and security in turbulent times.
- The opportunity disruption provides to move from competition to collaboration across the higher education sector.
For many, we are already in disruptive times in the area of international student enrolment and engagement. Some talked about the near explosion of international student enrolment in recent years, especially for students from India. We heard about how this challenge might be a way of bringing together budget and SEM; that sometimes disruption can be internal; that budget drives culture; and opportunities flow from effective brainstorming across institutional silos. We were reminded of the importance of supporting international students, both personally and academically, as they enrich our institutions.
Jason Hunter, Vice President, Student and Community Engagement, at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning put it well when he said the Summit helped us “to frame critical issues” and “to build capacity” by developing a strong SEM network of administrators and educators across Canada. We all experienced a little SEM therapy.
For me the key take away is the importance of encouraging collaborative dialogue and planning for disruption as we work to enhance institutional health and student success through our SEM work.