Conference Win Underlines Wellington's Open Learning Opportunities

10th Nov, 2023

Te Pūkenga and Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa have won their joint bid to host the International Council for Open and Distance Education’s (ICDE) 30th World Conference in Wellington in 2025. The win was announced at this year’s ICDE World Conference in Costa Rica.

Dr Mark Nichols, event Co-Chair representing Te Pūkenga and ICDE Board member, says hosting this international ICDE event will put Te Pūkenga and Massey University’s innovative work in broadening access to tertiary education on the world stage.

“Many of the open universities represented across the ICDE global membership have student numbers greater than the entire New Zealand tertiary sector.

“Internationally, the trend is toward increasingly available, time independent solutions to learning where providers ensure they remove or reduce barriers to place, pace, and access. The small, distributed population of Aotearoa makes open and distance learning a key feature of our ako (learning and teaching) provision.”

Professor Giselle Byrnes, event Co-Chair representing Massey University adds: “For Te Pūkenga, partnering with Massey University brings vocational and academic higher education into focus. For Massey University, the opportunity to work with Te Pūkenga offers enhanced opportunities for learning and sharing best practice across the wider tertiary education system.

“Besides being the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, Wellington brings together the very things any conference of this nature is concerned with – accessibility, a hub of political and policy decision-makers, a warm and welcoming Aotearoa New Zealand experience, close proximity to the outdoors, and a great launch-point for further exploration north and south. Tākina, the new conference venue, is also a natural drawcard with its centre-city location and proximity to a vibrant selection of entertainment, restaurants, and accommodation.”

Business Events Wellington manager Irette Ferreira says the win aligns with the city’s strength in the education sector. Wellington is home to several internationally recognised universities and tertiary institutions, as well as being close to the Open Polytechnic business division of Te Pūkenga and Massey University, where Aotearoa New Zealand’s leaders in open and distance learning are based.

She adds: “Hosting a conference focused on removing barriers to education also directly supports the city’s Economic Wellbeing Strategy which identifies lifelong learning and online learning as important components in the development of Wellington’s future labour market.”

The biennial event will take place at Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre in November 2025 and attract more than 800 international leaders in the field of open and distance learning to New Zealand’s capital.

The International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) is the leading global membership association working towards bringing accessible, quality education to all through Open, Flexible and Distance Learning (OFDL). It is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, with more than 320 members and partners worldwide.

ICDE celebrates its 85th anniversary this year and has organised international conferences on OFDL since its inception in 1938.

ICDE Secretary General, Torunn Gjelsvik, says: “We are thrilled to be organising our next World Conference in Wellington, and to highlight the diverse OFDL experience and knowledge in the region. We need local solutions to help tackle challenges to education on a global level and welcome OFDL experts and enthusiasts to join us in 2025.” 

The conference bid was submitted with support from Business Events Wellington and Tourism New Zealand and will be organised by professional conference organiser Conference Innovators.

Tourism New Zealand General Manager NZ & Business Events Bjoern Spreitzer says: “This is a fantastic opportunity for open education specialists from around the world to share their knowledge and to showcase our local expertise. We hope that visitors also take the time to seek out, explore and enjoy all New Zealand can offer.”


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