ICEF HE Connect

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December 01 - 03, 2020

About this event

ICEF HE Connect marked an ambitious and successful virtual return for our annual ICEF Higher Education event. With three days of one-on-one meetings, 27 live and on-demand webinars and dedicated networking rooms to encourage chance encounters, ICEF HE Connect brought together more higher education student recruitment professionals than ever before in this new online setting, with a 40% increase in participants versus our previous largest HE event in Helsinki in 2019.

Over the three-day introductory event, our participants conducted over 3,600 meetings, exchanging nearly 40,000 messages and establishing 11,500 connections, rapidly setting solid foundations for this online HE-focused community.

Despite the challenges currently facing the international higher education sector, our participants overwhelmingly felt positive for the future and underlined the importance of looking ahead and preparing for the next student intake in September 2021. In the knowledge that travel restrictions won’t last forever, our attendees were keen to establish solid foundations to help them hit the ground running as of a 2021 return to “normal”.

With a new format designed to facilitate search, and the introduction of integrated video calling within the meeting scheduling system, event attendees again found this virtual event to be a valuable experience, with over 85% rating the number of new contacts made as excellent or good.

Connecting the community

Alongside our core meeting schedule, ICEF HE Connect set out to deliver an ambitious community of like-minded HE professionals, providing a valuable source of advice and support over the coming months to help them navigate the challenges they are currently facing.

With strong, high quality, and diverse attendance, as well as very positive delegate feedback, the success of ICEF HE Connect firmly established this event and its ongoing community as an important cornerstone and source of inspiration for student recruitment professionals in the international higher education sector as they prepare for the next academic year.



The three-day introduction event from 1 to 3 December 2020 started the community off with the delivery of a varied seminar programme of 27 live and on-demand sessions. These sessions included advice from around the international education sector and looked to provide guidance on how to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As well as this, ICEF HE Connect provided a broad breadth of market updates and also explored longer-term themes for change, investigating the opportunities for forward looking international education professionals. The programme may be accessed here.

Event Attendees

We welcomed 122 representatives from 114 institutions, marking a 15% increase on 2019’s attendance. With educators representing 28 countries across five continents, the event achieved a tremendously broad geographical range, with 18% being first-timers. The top five educator countries were: USA, Germany, Spain, Canada, and France.

In common with other ICEF events, ICEF HE Connect welcomed a high proportion of senior decision makers, with over 50% in senior management roles. This is testament to the high intent demonstrated by our educational institutions to finding new student recruitment agent partners at this difficult time.

Amongst stiff competition to attend, we welcomed 309 representatives from 278 carefully selected, ICEF-screened agencies. With a 120% increase in attendance compared to 2019’s ICEF Higher Education in Finland, this indicates a strong interest by agents to develop and maintain contact with partners from across the higher education sector. This also demonstrates how virtual events can provide a greater engagement with agents around the world, avoiding the cost and time spent on travel, as well as visa formalities and obstacles many would have to overcome.

This event saw 13 providers of services for international education join us online of which 15% were first-timers to an ICEF higher education event. The top five service provider countries were: United Kingdom, Canada, USA, Australia, and Spain.

Event Statistics

  1. India
  2. Russia
  3. Ukraine
  4. Brazil
  5. Pakistan
  1. USA
  2. Germany
  3. Spain
  4. Canada
  5. France