The Tertiary Education Management (TEM) conference has been a major annual event on the higher education calendar for over thirty years. TEM conferences grew out of conferences held in earlier years by the Association for Tertiary Education and Management (ATEM) and its predecessor, the Association for Tertiary Education Administration (AITEA). The first AITEA conference was held in 1977 on the dual themes of National Policies in Higher Education and Education as a Profession. Conferences were held annually by ATEM since then until 1992, when the then Australasian Association of Higher Education Facilities Directors (AAAPA) became a partner in running the conference, which became known as the ATEM and AAPPA Conference. In 2003, the title of the Conference was changed to the Tertiary Education Management Conference to reflect the focus of the conference rather than the two host associations.
The contemporary Tertiary Education Management Conference is organised via a partnership between ATEM and the Tertiary Education Facilities Management Association (TEFMA) (previously the Australasian Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers (AAPPA). It attracts around 600 professional managers and higher education researchers from universities, TAFE institutes, polytechnics, wãnanga, government departments, private providers and other organisations. The Conference is the flagship activity each year. It is the opportunity for TEFMA and ATEM to bring its members together for a significant period of professional development, for ATEM/TEFMA to co-host and listen to significant figures in tertiary management and administration as plenary speakers, and to network with like organisations and clients through formal links and sponsorship arrangements.
The conference was re-badged in 2003, to become the Tertiary Education Management Conference, with the aim of building the conference to be the pre-eminent professional development activity for managers in tertiary education. The conference is organised by an organising committee with members from both ATEM and TEFMA. In the interests of professionalism, the conference has used the services of a professional conference organiser, appointed by the TEMC and TEFMA councils either through a tender process or through other arrangements. For the past several years, Leishman Associates has filled this role.
The TEM conference is the only one in the tertiary sector which covers the full range of functions in institutions, and is designed to allow participants to build strong networks across Australia and New Zealand. TEMC has a strong practitioner focus to support the sharing of knowledge and ‘know how’, and also provides opportunities to focus on big-picture issues as well. It allows participants to reflect on their management practice in a regional, national and global context.
The TEM conference has always been rich with the sort of practitioner research that no longer has many opportunities to be published. To this end, those responsible for organising TEM Conferences agreed a couple of years ago to introduce a ‘refereed stream’ of papers into the Conference. One of the reasons for this was to try to create a new space in which practitioner research and development can be published. Such material, although based on a background of scholarship and empiricism, will often not be accepted by scholarly journals, often on the grounds that it is based on experience or practice from a single institution.