The early bird registration fee for the Network Learning Conference 2018 is £446 for three days. If you’re a student the rate is at £329 pounds.
The standard registration fee for the same conference is £540 pounds for three days and if you’re a student that is £423.
These fees don’t include accommodation. There is a note on the NLC18 website that says:
All rates include attendance at the conference with lunch Monday & Tuesday, daily refreshments and drinks reception Monday.
I’m guessing like many other people, my initial reaction to these fees was to look for options: What if I go to the conference for only a day or two? What if I skipped the lunch?
Well, it turns out there are no options. You either pay for the full amount or you stay at home.
To put things into perspective and context, the standard registration fee for £540 is more than half of my annual allowance for conference fees. With the flights and accommodation the cost will easily bump up to £750.
£750 pounds is a lot of money to pay for a conference. I went to NLC16 for the first time two years ago and really enjoyed it, but it really stresses me out to pay that much money for a conference and makes me feel guilty about “my” professional development.
To put things into further context, £750 pounds is 3824.41 YTL (The Turkish currency), which is more than twice the minimum wage in Turkey. How many scholars from Turkey do you think will attend this international conference? I really would like to see the rates of attendance to NLC18 from non-EU countries and outside the UK. If the registration fees are kept so high what are the odds of having a truly international conference?
I understand that organizations on this scale are costly. I also understand that there is a lot going into these events; however, I’m asking more transparency and a more democratic platform for participation. I want to be able to discuss my options at the very least.
Let me say it loud and clear: cost is a barrier for participation in such professional events and further deepens the divide between the global North and the rest of the world. It creates an elitist community of scholars.
Couldn’t there be an alternative to the traditional conference format? Can’t we open these meetings up to the public? Perhaps meetings can be hosted at a local community center or school? Perhaps hold a number of smaller events instead of one big event and bring them together on an online platform? Ask participants to pack their own lunches?
Looking forward to your views on this..