New way forward for international education

The Morrison Government’s 10-year strategy for international education will position Australia for a strong COVID-19 recovery and create new opportunities for a more sustainable and diverse sector.

Released today, the Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030 outlines measures to help support the rapid return of international students when borders open again on 1 December.

It also outlines the direction for a more sustainable sector in the medium term.

In particular, the desire to have more diversity amongst the international student population in order to reduce financial risk and maximise the Australian and international student experience.

The Government will introduce new transparency measures around student diversity including a diversification index.

The strategy also outlines other key objectives for the medium term such as achieving a better alignment between the courses studied and Australian skill shortages.

Growth opportunities for the international student sector are outlined in the strategy particularly through greater in-country course provision. There is enormous demand for higher learning in countries in the region which Australia’s institutions could help meet with differing product offerings.

The United Kingdom is already well down this path with 58 per cent of its international students studying offshore, whereas only 20 per cent of Australia’s international students are studying offshore.

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said that international education was one of our great success stories, but we need to do things differently in the medium term.

“We want to see our international student market flourish again, but we have to ensure that the Australian student experience is also prioritised. This means that our public universities need to have a higher priority on diversity in their classrooms,” Minister Tudge said.

“Some public universities have as many as 80 per cent of their international students from one country. This creates financial risk for those institutions, but it can also diminish the student experience – for both Australian and international students.

“There is an enormous opportunity to grow our international student market through high-quality offshore courses, similar to what the United Kingdom has done. We could potentially be educating 10 million students in this manner in a decade or two, supporting the development of our neighbours as well as providing a revenue source for our universities.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said attracting international students from new and emerging markets was essential to continue to see the international education sector thrive as one of Australia’s strongest exports.

“International education is our biggest services export earner and Australia is known globally for providing world-class education,” Minister Tehan said.

“As part of this strategy, the Morrison Government will promote Australia’s education sector to new and existing markerts to increase its global reputation as a provider of top quality education.”

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs

Alex Hawke said changes to visa settings will provide greater opportunities for international students and graduates to live, study and work in Australia.

“The pandemic had a significant impact on the visa arrangements of many international students – both those in Australia, and on visa holders who could not travel to Australia to study or complete their courses,” Minister Hawke said.

“These changes will encourage thousands of new student visa applications and extend opportunities for many existing students to extend their stay in Australia.

“These settings put Australia on a competitive footing internationally, which is critically important as we reopen the borders for students from 1 December 2021.

“I look forward to welcoming international students back to Australia very soon, enabling them to once again re-engage with our universities, schools, English Language and vocational education and training providers face-to-face.”

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