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AEA-Europe Conference 2020: POSTPONED

The AEA-Europe Council met on the 4th May to consider the future of the AEA-Europe Conference for 2020.  Having considered all the advice from national and international health experts and ministries of health in various European countries, as well as discussions with our Local Organisers, it became very clear that the best course of action was to postpone this year’s conference.

Before I explain the Council’s decision, I would first like to thank all members and colleagues who submitted abstracts for presentations across all the categories by 30th April in order to be considered for the 2020 conference.   We really appreciate all your work in getting your abstracts together, in meeting the extended deadline, and in showing your faith in the Association and the annual conference.  Your support of the Association was greatly evidenced by your commitment to submit and hopefully present!  We greatly appreciate this.  I will say more about next steps below.

There were three main aspects to the decision to postpone:

First, we are in unprecedented times and an unrivalled public health emergency.  At all times we need to take the safety of delegates as well as the public of Dun Laoghaire/Dublin into consideration when thinking of hosting such a large gathering.  It would be very difficult at this stage to envisage bringing of 300+ delegates to Ireland from across Europe to meet together.  On the 1st May the Irish Government published its road map to reopening Ireland out of lockdown https://www.gov.ie/en/news/58bc8b-taoiseach-announces-roadmap-for-reopening-society-and-business-and-u/ .  It details how coming together in large gatherings (such as international conferences for example) will be among some of the last areas of social life where restrictions will be lifted.  It is also clear that such gatherings will not be able to occur for some time and will have strict social distancing protocols attached which would make it very difficult for us to meet together.

Second, the Association always has a duty of care to its members and delegates, especially in connection with its major yearly gathering.  Even at this stage (May 2020) there are no guarantees we can give in relation to safe-guarding colleagues’ health and well-being regarding travelling to/from Dublin.  Moreover, we have no indication of what infrastructure might be available that will allow us all to travel economically into Ireland and enjoy, as normal, the usual scientific, cultural and social activities that the annual conference always delivers – we can’t have a conference without the dancing!

Third, early May brought us into the next phase of the conference planning cycle when financial support for advance payments of venues, equipment, etc. would have to be transferred to the local hosts and conference organisers.  It was decided that, given so much uncertainty, this was not an acceptable financial risk to take on behalf of the Association.  We had no guarantee of full refunds and felt it was not appropriate to incur costs that would impact significantly on the Association’s budgets and cashflow.  We agreed, as always, that good governance of our financial assets is paramount; even more so in these uncertain times.

The decision to postpone was not an easy decision to make, but taking all these issues into consideration, we felt that it was the best resolution for the Association, for our members and our annual conference delegates, given the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in.  However, the good news is that the conference is only postponed until November 2021 when we will meet again and visit Dublin/Dun Laoghaire.  Our colleagues in Moscow have gracefully agreed to move their hosting of the conference to November 2022.

Next steps:

For those of you who submitted an abstract for the 2020 conference:

  • The theme of the Dublin Conference 2020, Assessment for Changing Times: Opportunities and Challenges, will remain unchanged and carried over for 2021.
  • If you would still like your submission to be considered for review for the 2021 conference then you need not do anything. We will hold your submission and review next year within the normal process.
  • If you would like to retract your abstract and re-submit again next year then we will open up the website again and you can delete your submission and re-submit again next year.

Plans for online gatherings this November:

  • The General Assembly will take place online in November as planned and we will update you with details of this in due course.
  • Council are also looking into alternative ways in which we might meet virtually this November – perhaps around the GA – and what theme the virtual gatherings might take. Again more details on this in due course.
  • We would love to hear ideas/suggestions for these virtual gatherings from members – do please reply to this email with any ideas/suggestions you might have and/or support and help you might offer so that we can feed these into planning discussions for a great event in November as always, albeit a little different to what we are used to!

In the meantime, I can assure you that the Council are working hard to sustain the Association through these difficult times, but also looking forward to seeing what these new ways of working and coming together can add to the activities of our Association so that it continues to thrive as the foremost association of assessment researchers and professionals across Europe.

Keep well and stay safe,

Jannette Elwood

President: Association of Educational Assessment-Europe

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The ‘Association for Educational Assessment – Europe’ is the foremost association for all assessment professionals throughout Europe.

AEA-Europe is a leading association for educational assessment researchers and practitioners across Europe. Established in 2000, our principal aim is to foster connections and developments in assessment throughout Europe and beyond. We organise an Annual Conference in November with over 200 delegates representing over 25 countries.  We also have a professional accreditation and awards scheme for assessment research. We now publish at least 3 newsletters per year and we can be reached via our pages on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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