From 20th to 23rd November 2016, the ICDE (International Council for Distance and Open Education) Presidents’ Summit 2016 was held in Sydney, Australia.

A five-person delegation from the Open University of China (OUC) led by President Yang Zhijian attended the conference. The summit was hosted by Charles Sturt University and was themed around “A New Era of Leadership & Quality: The Business of Open and Distance Learning in 2020,” with a focus on new trends in leadership development, changes to education models, and the ongoing improvement of education quality.

President Yang Zhijian attended the fifth ICDE Executive Committee meeting 2016 together with Mandla Makhanya, principal & vice-chancellor, University of South Africa and president of ICDE; Gard Titlesta, ICDE secretary general; Belinda Tynan, deputy vice-chancellor for education, RMIT University; and Alan Tait, former vice chancellor, the Open University, UK. The meeting agenda included ICDE 2017-2020 Strategic Plan, ICDE 2017 – 2018 Action Plan, ICDE Quality Network, and Fund Raising Plan . President Yang Zhijian joined in the discussions and put forward his views and suggestions regarding ICDE’s future positioning, development strategy, and membership services.

The OUC delegates attended the summit’s parallel sessions and listened to keynote speeches such as Learning Analytics Marketplace; Plenary Panel: The Australasian Online, Open and Flexible Learning Landscape; ODL Quality: Political, Economic and Service Implications; and Challenges Facing Smart Learning in Higher Education: Lessons from the Middle East. In addition, the delegates attended the ICDE strategic planning session and ICDE presidents’ meeting, exchanging views on the above-mentioned topics with global leaders of ODL institutions and discussing future leadership and implementation methods in regional and global ODL.

Presidents of open universities offered keynote speeches at the summit, with a theme of “Pushing the Boundaries: Future Leadership, Business and Quality Directions for University Presidents.” Panelists included OUC President Yang Zhijian, president of the University of Phoenix Bill Pepicello, and deputy vice-chancellor of RMIT University Belinda Tynan. As a leader and representative of ODL in the Asia-Pacific region, President Yang Zhijian delivered a keynote speech on Leading Reform in a Changing World: A Case Study of the OUC, in which he introduced the opportunities and challenges facing China’s ODL in terms of social and economic progress, higher education development, and information technology transformation. He also proposed “four essential abilities” for leaders, namely, the ability to lead change, make top-level decisions, drive an organisation forward, and promote collaborative development. In addition, he summarised the OUC’s important initiatives for development in this new era, including the promotion of educational equality for vulnerable groups, the exploration of an operational mechanism based on “complementary advantages, joint discussions and a win-win” strategy to boost industry cooperation; the construction of a “six-network integration” online learning and learner development model; and the development of a “credit bank” to realise the accumulation and transfer of learning outcomes; promotion of lifelong learning for all and development of community education etc.

The ICDE Presidents’ Summit 2017 will be held on 22nd to 23rd May in Nancy, France, with the theme of “Adaptive Learning and Learning Analytics: Possible Consequences for Leadership Management.”

By Du Qian, OUC