Between 18-22 March 2024, the British Council, on behalf of the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the UK (CSC), hosted the fourth annual global conference for Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni, Interchange24. 

The five-day programme featured a mix of roundtable discussions, skills workshops, and networking sessions. The overarching theme of the conference was ‘Inclusive Societies – Cultural Diversity, Disability and Gender Roles’.  

Interchange24 provided an opportunity for Commonwealth Scholars, Alumni and other stakeholders to come together in a virtual space to share knowledge and research related to cultural diversity in education, equality, diversity and inclusion, and challenging gender norms and stereotypes. Over 400 participants representing 38 countries joined the event. 

Promoting inclusive practice 

The conference officially opened on Tuesday 19 March with a keynote delivered by Miranda Thomas, Director of Programmes and Business Development at the Association of Commonwealth Universities on behalf of the Chair of the CSC, Professor Robin Mason. In her address, Miranda highlighted the CSC’s work to promote equality and inclusion in the delivery of its scholarships and programmes. In her closing, Miranda encouraged participants to engage with CSC’s Alumni Network and to share their stories demonstrating the positive impact of Commonwealth Scholarships. 

Sharing research and knowledge 

On Monday 18 March, participants were invited to a pre-conference networking day, designed to enable Commonwealth Scholars and Alumni to connect across a range of thematic areas. The sessions were hosted by alumni and covered a variety of subjects includingFeminisation of Care: Examining Health Care and Education from a Gender Lens; Building a Sustainable and Purposeful Professional Network; and A Discussion on Gender Roles, Economic Security and Violence. Further networking sessions were delivered on Wednesday 20 March and included: Gender and Workplace Equality; Disability-based Violence Enhanced by Culture; and Digital Inclusion for Sustainable Development. 

Over the remaining four days, Commonwealth Alumni led three expert roundtable discussions on the core conference themes. Panellists shared valuable insights into their work and research across a range of issues related to inclusion. The panel discussions were followed by lively Q&A sessions between panellists and participants who had the opportunity to share their work and home country contexts in relation to the discussion topics, showcasing a range of perspectives and experiences.

The conference also featured workshops on developing networking and presentation skills, delivered by a communication skills specialist. The sessions focused on teaching effective strategies for improving presenters’ confidence in speaking and boosting audience engagement. A further two skills development workshops included training on diversifying leadership and inclusive leadership practices, and building career skills which highlighted the importance of navigating diversity in the workplace and offered practical advice and strategies for thriving in inclusive work environments. 

Interchange24 closed on Friday 22 March. The CSC and British Council would like to thank everyone who gave their time and energy to making Interchange24 a success.  

You can watch recordings of the roundtable discussions on the CSC’s YouTube channel, where you can also watch recordings from previous conferences.