Guidance for Agencies wishing to host CIAC
Workshops and seminars
Organising a successful event is a complex task. CIAC events are further challenged by their international nature – delegates and speakers will be travelling from across globe and represent different languages and traditions. This document is intended to provide a simple guide for Agencies that are thinking about offering to organise a CIAC workshop or seminar. It outlines the key characteristics required of a workshop for it to fulfil the needs of CIAC’s members and to give a necessary notice to the CIAC Secretariat, which coordinates the workshops and seminars together with the host agencies. The present guidelines also provide some common sense guidance on how to effectively organise and manage the event.
CIAC workshops and seminars should aim to make a contribution to at least one of the following objectives:
- disseminate information on good practice of quality assurance in higher education;
- bring new ideas and perspectives to the global quality assurance debate;
- provide solutions and new viewpoints on current quality assurance issues;
- formulate recommendations to CIAC members and the CIAC Board; or
- Function as a venue for exchanging information between quality assurance experts and stakeholders.
CIAC’s General Assembly must approve the number of workshops and seminars as an element in the yearly action plan and in accordance with the available funding.
In addition, the programme of a workshop or seminar must be approved by the CIAC Board.
CIAC workshops and seminars are not considered commercial exercises and they should not make financial profit to the organising agency or to CIAC.
The events should be conducted on a self-financing basis, and the participants are responsible for their own expenses – including the registration fee which is determined by the CIAC Secretariat in consultation with the organising agency once the estimated budget of the event will be clear.
CIAC, however, reimburses the travels and accommodation of the guest speakers and may cover other relevant expenses as well, such as meeting rooms, conference equipment and meals of the participants. These additional expenses are subject to further consultations between the host agency and the Secretariat. The host agency is also encouraged to seek possible sponsorships for the event.
- Host agency
To be eligible to host a workshop or seminar an Agency must be a full or candidate member of CIAC. If two or more Agencies wish to combine resources to organise an event, there must be clear agreement as to the financial and organisational responsibilities at the outset to avoid confusion later.
It is advisable that a lead contact person from the host agency/agencies is designated right from the very beginning of the organisation process. The contact person will take responsibility for communicating with the CIAC Secretariat, and assume overall responsibility for the success of the event.
- Interaction with the CIAC Secretariat
As a CIAC-branded event, CIAC will need to play an active role in the planning of the programme and event arrangements through the participation of its Board and the Secretariat. In practical terms, after ’Stage 1’ (see below) the Secretariat needs to be kept informed and involved at all stages of the planning process.
The key to hosting a successful event is in careful planning. Outlined below are the six key stages of event planning.
7.1. Stage 1 – Ideas
Every event starts with an idea, in the case of CIAC workshops and seminars the original idea may come from a number of sources, for example:
- needs of staff within your own agency which you feel may be common across CIAC members
- a new piece of research/ a result of a project which might be of interest at the global level
- an event organised by CIAC or another body
Once an idea has been clearly formulated it is important to get in touch with the CIAC Secretariat in writing in order to let it know of your intentions. The Secretariat will be able to advise you as to how well your idea is likely to fit within CIAC’s objectives and other events that are due to take place. The Secretariat will also be able to notify the CIAC Board of your initial proposal.
7.2. Stage 2 – Developing a draft programme
At this point it would be useful to form a working group within your Agency, or if you are working in partnership with another Agency, form a joint working group. This is also the time to decide on the ’lead contact person’ for the event, who will take overall responsibility for its organisation, and keep in touch with the CIAC Secretariat during the programme development process. It would also be advisable that an administrator from the CIAC Secretariat would be part of the working group, or at least be informed of the major developments.
Structure and format
The structure of the event is likely to vary depending on whether it is a workshop (more interactive) or seminar (less interactive). It may include any of a number elements:
- Group work
- Plenary sessions
When formulating a draft programme it is important to think how the format(s) chosen relate to the workshop objectives. For example, if information dissemination is the main objective, then a seminar format including several presentations (and possibly papers to be presented) followed by a short group work session and plenary might be the most appropriate. If problem solving and information exchange are the key objectives then a workshop format of very short introductory presentations leading into longer group work or Q&A sessions might be more appropriate; with findings brought together in a plenary session by group rapporteurs.
Workshops and seminars are most successful when the number of delegates is kept quite small – within 30-40 participants. However, it will be up to the host agency –
in consultation with the CIAC Secretariat – to decide on the final number of the participants, taking into account the size of the venue and the interest the event might generate among the CIAC members.
Events will typically take place over the course of one day and a half – often starting in the morning on day one and finishing with lunch on day two.
An event is easiest to plan and run when it takes place in a location with which the host agency is familiar – this is likely to be the city in which the Agency is based. If, however, the Agency is located away from major transport links, or for other reasons the location is likely to cause problems for international delegates, it may be worth considering alternative locations.
The setting up of a date, as at an early stage as possible, is important in order to ensure that delegates who would like to attend will be able to do so. Note should taken of parallel QA events, national and international holidays, school vacations, etc., in order to avoid overlapping. The CIAC Secretariat will often be able to indicate whether there are any other relevant events scheduled to take place near the proposed date – this information should be taken into consideration when choosing a date.
It is important that enough time is available to organise the event as speakers and delegates often have their diaries filled many months in advance. Ideally a minimum of six months should be allowed between the draft programme being produced and the event taking place. Potential speakers should be approached at the earliest possible stage and suggestions included as part of the draft programme submitted to the CIAC Board wherever possible.
7.3. Stage 3 – Approval by the CIAC Board
The background, objectives and draft programme of the event should be submitted to the CIAC Secretariat for the attention of the Board, giving at least six months notice.
7.4. Stage 4 – Event organisation
Whether you intend to host the event at your own offices, or at another venue, there are number of key points that need to be considered.
Room layout and size
- How many rooms do you need to operate your planned programme?
- How big do they need to be?
- What is the best room layout for each element of the programme?
- How accessible is the venue for individuals with a disability?
- Is there a lift/ramp to all floors/rooms?
- Are there facilities for audio-visual/computer equipment available at the venue?
- Is it possible to set up a registration desk?
- Will it be easy to organise lunches and coffee breaks at the venue?
Transport and accommodation
- Is the venue easily accessible by public transport?
- How close is the venue to international airports and rail terminals?
- Is there parking at the venue or nearby for those travelling by car?
- What sort of accommodation is available nearby?
- How easy is it to get from the accommodation to the venue?
It would be rare for a venue to fulfil every criteria but each of the above should be at least thought about when choosing a venue for the event.
As soon as the event has been approved by the CIAC Board the promotion should begin. The CIAC Secretariat holds contact details for all member agencies and the best way to start the promotion of the event is through an email from the Secretariat, including a summary of the objectives of the event and proposed date/location, to all members. At this point the event can also be added to the CIAC and host agency websites.
Three months before the event is due to take place, another email should be sent including the draft programme and details of how to register for the event. At this point the draft programme should include details of the venue, location, timing, format and structure, and the main speakers for the event. Again all this information should be added to the CIAC and Agency websites.
The workshops and seminars are primarily reserved for participants from CIAC member agencies and affiliate/associate bodies. In most cases, places will be limited to only one delegate from each organisation/member, and should be allocated on a first come first served basis.
The registration process is carried by the CIAC Secretariat and the host agency, using the tools of the restricted area of the CIAC website. The registration form can be developed in collaboration with the host Agency and the Secretariat, taking into account the special conditions of the given venue and of the event. This electronic registration form should also make it possible for the delegates to indicate their dietary needs and other special requirements.
As access to workshops is restricted, it is important to check that all those registering for the event are eligible to do so. Before confirmation of registration is sent back to the delegate, the status of their organisation should be checked.
All written materials should be produced in English. If the host agency wishes to provide materials in additional languages it is encouraged to do so.
Delegates will need to be provided with name badges. These should be designed so that they are clear and easy to read, with the text in as large a font as possible. They should include the delegate’s:
- Full name
These will normally include the following:
- Event programme and guide to speakers
- Delegate list
- Map of the venue and/or instructions on how to reach the different rooms
- Any documents which will be discussed at the event
- Taxi booking form
7.5. Stage 5 – On the day
Before the delegates arrive it is important to make a final check, in person, with the venue manager on the location of rooms are and the timetable of refreshments/lunch, etc. It should also be checked that the indications are in place.
Badges and delegate folders will need to be collected from a clearly marked registration desk. This will also enable an attendance register to be accurately completed.
Many delegates will require a taxi to reach the local train station or airport. As most delegates will be travelling at similar times it is advisable to have a system in place for booking shared taxis. This can be done in conjunction with the registration and/or by including a form in the delegate pack to be handed into the registration desk on the morning of the final session.
7.6. Stage 6 – Post-event activities
To contribute CIAC’s role as a conduit for information dissemination, it is desirable that the workshop contributions and results are collected and integrated into a report to be published as an CIAC Workshop Report after a final approval by the CIAC Board. CIAC disseminates these publications to members and to main partners free of charge which makes it possible for all those interested to utilise the obtained results. The process of the drafting of the report will be coordinated by the CIAC Secretariat, with the help of the host Agency and all contributing parties. The Secretariat will also be responsible of edition, style and content-related details of the report as well as of its mailing to the members and introduction on the CIAC website.
Approved by the CIAC Board on 14th October 2014