International ACAC 2019

Campus Gets Busy With International Event

Greg Bowman

Western University certainly loses a lot of life in the summer. You can actually navigate around the UCC without hip-checking people, there’s seldom a line for coffee, and the gym is essentially barren. 

While the hustle and bustle subsides for a few months every year, this week has made the campus lively again, welcoming over 1500 school counsellors from around the world for the International ACAC 2019. The annual event is held at a different school each year, in a different city. It welcomes school academic counsellors from all over the world for a few days of meetings, presentations and networking opportunities to expand the global outreach for universities worldwide. 

We often call them guidance counsellors - the people who help us pick our courses in university or help us make a decision about post-secondary education in high school. Formally named “school counsellors,” they are responsible for aiding any student that comes through their doors for not only the best academic fit for them, but also the best lifestyle fit: “we talk to them about location, weather, financial, what they want to study, they type of educational environment they want to be in and how they like to learn because universities all across the world offer many different programs,” said International ACAC President-elect, Kathleen Schultz. Schultz works in China as a school counselor helping students find universities around the world that best suit them. 

Last year, the conference was held in New Orleans, Louisiana, with this year’s edition being one of the rare trips north of the border. Toronto, Calgary and UBC have all hosted in the past, but this is the first time it has been hosted at Western University: “We do have a competitive bidding process, but our membership really was wanting to return to Canada,” said current International ACAC President, Becky Konowicz. “Western [has] globalized and been on the road saying that they would like more international students so it was the right time to bring this community.” She continues: “While we’re here we’re already experiencing the hospitality. Some say it’s Canadian hospitality, I think it’s Western hospitality.” The counsellors have been arriving over the course of the weekend, being put up in the Western residences, with free range to explore the campus and interact with one another. 

This is a remarkably significant event for Western to host on its campus, with those in attendance responsible for providing students with information about post-secondary institutions worldwide.  To have over 1500 people on the campus for a week gives them a first-hand experience of what life would roughly be like for a student who wants to attend Western University. Moreover, with the week-long duration, it also allows for exploration of the city, which is just as important as the school itself. 

“Western attracts top students from around the world and provides opportunities to learn in a global context,” said Western University President Alan Shepard in a statement. “That’s why we are thrilled to host this conference here in London and showcase our campus to an international network of professionals that supports globally minded students in their pursuit of academic excellence.”

Canada has a phenomenal reputation for its post-secondary institutions as it is, with hundreds of thousands of students coming from overseas to attend one of the 96 universities in the country - not counting the many more community colleges that have their doors open as well. “Canada is a popular destination. One of the reasons is that students do the International Baccalaureate and Canada is one of the countries that accepts that outright without requiring additional testing,” lauded Schultz. “The schools in Canada have a great reputation worldwide so many students feel like if [they] get a Canadian bachelor’s degree, that will allow [them] to work in [their] own country because of the reputation.” 

The opening ceremonies for the conference will be on Tuesday afternoon with a presentation by Canadian Olympian and Londoner, Damian Warner. The event will run until July 11th, with educational presentations and networking opportunities going on throughout the campus, throughout the day. Representatives will connect, learn and share ideas through 80 education sessions, two comprehensive fairs, conference chats and social events.