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UK Council for International Student Affairs

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Image: Steve Baker

The conference for the UK Council for International Student affairs featured high-profile speakers, training sessions, peer-led workshop presentations and discussions, with plenty of opportunities for delegates to connect with fellow members and sector representatives.

Background of the event:  UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) conference is for staff working in universities and colleges in the UK to support international students who study in the UK.


Image: Steve Baker

Interview with Julie Allen, Director of Member Services and Policy at UK Council for International Student Affairs:

Why did you choose NewcastleGateshead as the location for your event?

Every year we hold our conference in a different city. We had booked Newcastle as a venue prior to Covid as the year before we had been in Keele. We try to move around the UK so members have different kinds of travel arrangements each year. In 2020 there wasn’t a conference and last year we did it all virtually. Newcastle is easy to travel to and hotels in the city are so reasonably priced which meant we didn’t have to make block bookings to keep costs down. 

Which venues did you use for your event and what attracted you to them?

We chose The Frederick Douglass Centre at the University of Newcastle. It is a new building that is well-equipped and the smaller rooms were a good size for our parallel sessions. It was easy to get to from the train station which is right in the city centre, and the staff were very helpful.  

The Discovery Museum was recommended by a colleague in the sector who had used it before. It is very reasonably priced, and we had the opportunity to book the museum after it had closed to the public.  

The Biscuit Factory was recommended by Caroline Reed, Senior Manager of Business Events, NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau. It was the perfect space for the full dinner and the gallery was lovely, too. 

Image: Steve Baker

How did NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau support you along the way, did the support meet your expectations? 

Caroline was extremely helpful, we met on our initial visit to Newcastle University in 2018. We then had another meeting  in 2022, where Caroline set up all the visits to view evening options and helped organise travel. She also helped with a bulk staff booking for the hotel. 

Did the venue meet your brief/ expectations and how?  

All of the venues that we used were excellent.  Getting around Newcastle University was easy, and we found the staff were very helpful. The Discovery Museum had a variety of spaces that were easy to set up and were a great fit for what we needed. We used the Biscuit Factory for our evening event which provided the perfect setting. The staff provided karaoke which was extremely popular with our delegates.  

Image: Steve Baker

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important, especially in business events. Did your event take any measures to be more sustainable? 

We distributed ‘lanyards for life’ to those who previously attended our events and asked them to re-use them. Our badges were printed on card rather than plastic. We used an app and digital screens around the building for the agenda. We asked delegates to bring their own water bottles and supplied water coolers. 

Was there anything that made the event particularly memorable? 

The weather was very hot and sunny which we hadn’t anticipated, which made it lovely to walk around the city. It was also our first in-person meeting since 2019. 




Conference date
15-17 June 2022

Total delegates

University of Newcastle (The Frederick Douglass Centre) and Discovery Museum

Additonal venues
Biscuit Factory

"Newcastle was a fantastic city to visit and we really benefited from the knowledge and support of Newcastle Gateshead Convention Bureau during our planning visits. We were told that everything in Newcastle is no more than 20 minutes walk – and that’s true. It was very easy to get around. The University of Newcastle was an excellent venue for our 400-delegate conference and our evening events in the Discovery Museum and the Biscuit Factory were incredibly well received by our delegates. We wouldn’t hesitate to return to Newcastle for other events and encourage other organisations to visit! "

- Julie Allen, Director of Member Services and Policy

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