The 54th IATEFL Conference, Exhibition and Careers Fair is going virtual this June, rather than being held in Harrogate, UK.
Why have we done this?
Whilst we are still four months away from the conference, and whilst the development of vaccines against COVID-19 gives us hope and reassurance for the future, it is now clear that the global vaccination programme will not have progressed sufficiently by June, and it is also unclear what travel restrictions might still be in place at that time. Consequently running the conference in Harrogate would have meant losing much of the international nature and scale of the event. In addition we also owe a duty of care to our delegates, exhibitors, volunteers and staff. Safety must always be our first consideration. We also fully understand the challenges and funding priorities of so many will have shifted significantly in recent months. The last thing we would want is to ask delegates to budget for travel and accommodation for the event at this time.
As IATEFL is reliant on running its face-to-face international conference each year in order to ensure the future of the organisation, this decision, made by the Board of Trustees in close collaboration with IATEFL Head Office, will once again have a very significant impact on the association.
In addition, because many of you, like us, have been saying how much you were looking forward to going to Harrogate and seeing each other in person again after such a long time, we're really sorry and disappointed that we will not be able to go ahead with the event in our normal way. It is, however, wonderful to be able to announce that the conference will happen this year, just in a different way.
What will the virtual conference be like?
In taking the decision to run the conference virtually, our aim is to provide delegates with the full conference programme they would have enjoyed in Harrogate, including the existing academic programme, the Exhibition, the Careers Fair and hopefully even the social programme. The platform will also enable significant chat and networking opportunities, so you can catch up with old friends, make new ones, and discuss the topics being raised. We have also managed to compress the programme into three days, two of which are over the weekend, to reduce clashes with many peoples' work commitments.
Whilst we have built up a huge amount of experience in running webinars and web conferences over the last few years, we are particularly excited by the scale and scope of this event and the opportunities it presents.
What happens next?
We will be contacting speakers, delegates and exhibitors in the next few weeks with further details on the mechanics of this, but wanted to let everyone know of this decision as quickly as possible to prevent continued uncertainty, to avoid people making travel plans, and to ensure you have time to clear your diary for this exciting event.
We look forward to seeing you online from 19th to 21st June!