By Nico Evers
My name is Nico Evers, I am the new Director of Higher Education Services at CIS.
Why I wanted to join CIS
What I like most about my position at CIS is the huge opportunity that I see to bring schools and universities in our member community together and facilitate their collaboration in different areas. There are other membership organizations for schools as well as for universities and they all offer different modalities for networking and knowledge exchange such as conferences, training, (online) events and resources etcetera. One of the things that makes CIS unique is that we have both schools and universities in our membership community. We then develop expertise in order to support that collective community in the areas of student well-being, professional development, student recruitment, data protection, school accreditation, and global citizenship. These aspects stand CIS apart when compared with organizations of a similar size that tend to have a narrower focus.
Another special feature of CIS is that we are a truly global organization. Where many membership organizations have a regional focus or origin, CIS does not have that bias. There is no dominant system or culture. I think this is something very special and important, particularly now that we are facing a global crisis.
Successful CIS collaboration already exists between school counsellors and recruitment and admissions officers at universities involved in the school-university transition. However, we feel there are valuable opportunities for broader and deeper collaborations. If you look at topics like global citizenship, global work readiness, and child protection, both schools and universities are doing great things, but rarely do they get together to exchange their best practices and develop collaborative projects. That’s where CIS adds so much value, maximising our position to promote broader and deeper collaborations, bringing schools and universities together so that they can learn from each other and increase the quality of their work, benefiting students around the globe.
How I’ve started contributing
I joined CIS a little over four weeks ago in the middle of this emerging Coronavirus crisis, which has forced us to rethink the services that we offer to schools and universities. Obviously, the situation in the world will not allow us to do things “business as usual”. As people will most likely not be able to travel in the coming months, in-person events like university fairs and tours will be under pressure. We would like to keep adding value by offering alternatives, such as virtual events. We've recently started a new webinar series Monitoring a Changing Landscape for our members, starting with Will Students get to University this Year? with three members of the CIS Board of Trustees explaining how universities around the globe are adjusting their admissions procedures under these challenging circumstances. We welcomed more than 300 participants, nicely distributed between schools and universities. It was a great example of how CIS facilitates the conversation between these two groups in our membership community. There is a great demand for this kind of activity and even more so in these times, now that we are all trying to adjust our work to an uncertain future.
What CIS members can expect from me in the coming weeks/months
Webinars—Following the success of our first webinar, we decided to offer webinars that continue the conversation with our members with country-specific themes. We are now holding weekly webinars with university panellists from Canada, the Netherlands, the US, UK, with more in development. The series provides updates on admissions and recruitment strategies in these countries and there will be plenty of time for Q&A. Our school and university members can find all upcoming webinars and latest recordings in the CIS Community portal > KnowledgeBase > Webinars.
Resources—Of course, we are carefully monitoring what is going on in the world and are in close touch with the members of our community, partners and other stakeholders. Find the information and emerging resources that we are collecting here, including a section on connecting schools and universities, members can also find them all in the CIS Community portal.
Sharing information from across the CIS community—We have asked primary contacts at our member institutions to share updates, concerns and ideas regarding travel plans for recruitment and professional development via the information gathering tool that we have created and is already providing very useful data. Members can find a link to the reports on the CIS Community portal homepages (our member institution’s primary contact will have received a link via email). We feel it is very important for all our members to know what colleagues around the world are doing and for us at CIS to use their information to better support our membership and adjust our services as necessary.
Hitting the ground running
Of course, I had imagined a different start in a new job. I would have loved to get to know my new colleagues in person instead of via Zoom! But I also feel that “hitting the ground running” has allowed me to learn a lot about CIS very quickly. I have seen great leadership and an organization that has been able to quickly adjust itself to the new way of working, setting new priorities and offering new services. It is an organization that really makes an extraordinary effort to serve its members, to add value in traditional ways, but also in very innovative ways. There is a great sense of community and I feel that all of us, at CIS, schools and universities, are eager to connect ideas, cultures, and people as we continue to prepare students as global citizens, not only so that they can capture the opportunities globalization is offering, but also—and even more important now—to adequately respond to the challenges of our interconnected world.
I’m looking forward to
I am very much looking forward to working with our members on these important topics. Hopefully, we will soon have the opportunity to connect virtually or in person!