On April 28-29 2017 we held our first admissions conference in the Middle East and sixth overall at the International School of London Qatar. We were thrilled to welcome over 55 participants representing 32 schools.

See the full list of participating schools here.


On April 28 we hosted the pre-conference which focused on learning about the OpenApply system itself. Schools using OpenApply gained useful tips and tricks while those not using the system were able to see it in action for the first time.


First Nivin El Aawar, Head of Admissions at ISL Qatar, spoke on implementing OpenApply and the admissions process at her school. Next Angela Marquis and Lynne Godding, the ICT Manager and Admission and Marketing Director at Anglo-American School Sofia, spoke on going paperless with the help of OpenApply. Karen Strickland, Marketing and Communications Manager at Dwight School London, gave some practical tips on how to best collect and extract marketing data in OpenApply.


After lunch the OpenApply team ran three separate workshops for users of various experience levels. Day one wrapped up with a tour of the stunning Museum of Islamic Art and the famous Souq Waqif.


Day two started off with the Keynote Building a New School by Sergio Pawel, Chief Academic Officer for the ISL group. Sergio spoke about creating ISL Qatar from scratch ten years ago and how in order to build a school you must build a community first.


Kathleen Battah, Head of School at Wellspring Learning Community, followed with an emotional presentation on managing risk in education in Lebanon and techniques her school has used to create a safe environment for the students and reassurance for the parents.


Next, Natalie Kvackova-Sipula, Communications and Admissions Manager at International School of Prague, led a job-alike where participants broke up into small groups to discuss practices at their school from the tour to the application form to the re-enrolment process.


Following Natalie, Nivin El Aawar, Head of Admissions at ISL Qatar, spoke on how to blend coaching techniques with admissions and why it’s important to have a high CQ at an international school.


During lunch Rima Danaf, Admission Officer at ISL Qatar, led participants on a school tour of ISL Qatar’s beautiful campus.


David Willows, Director of Admissions and Advancement at International School of Brussels, started off the afternoon with an interactive session on re-imagining admissions as a learning experience. The group explored admissions processes of the past and discussed how technology can be incorporated into today’s process to create a better experience for parents and admissions officers going forward.


In the last session of the day Heather Mulkey, Education Consultant at Permian Company Ltd., brought a different approach by presenting hard numbers on the expat situation in the Middle East and discussed the best way to create reports to accurately track admissions and enrolment information in an ever more competitive market.


Sergio Pawel wrapped up the day with a review of what the group had learned so far. He then asked the group to submit feedback in real-time online to facilitate sharing of the conference outcomes and takeaways.


The day ended with mountains of Lebanese food at local favorite Layali Restaurant.


Further notes:
  • All presentations have been uploaded in PDF format to the online schedule. Please feel free to review!


Participants Said:


“At the conference I found loads of new ideas, contacts in other schools, and affirmation that I’m facing the same challenges as other schools.”


“Thank you very much for the opportunity to attend such a useful event and meet up with other admissions professionals.
It has been very fruitful days and I hope this will develop into a good tradition.”


“You are providing a valuable service for the admissions community.  Bravo!”
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