Whereas I often write about governments or export agencies getting behind their international education industries and trying to facilitate the student visa process, there are a couple of examples of policy going off the boil in this month's issue. In Ireland, which is now focusing its attention on the international education industry, the government's first steps to help build the market and improve quality have not been greeted with enthusiasm by all.
Indeed, the English language teaching industry is alarmed that plans to revoke part-time work rights for students outside the European Economic Area will strangle the short-term student market and it is currently appealing against the move. While conducting trade missions to China and earmarking Asia as a future source of higher education students, the government has nevertheless introduced a policy that could see many Asian students deterred from short-term study in Ireland by the ban on working part-time.
In Australia, IDP, the university-owned recruitment agency, has announced a new policy direction, which is to focus its recruitment activities in Asia, where its core student markets are based. Given that nationality diversity is a concern for all education providers promising a truly international classroom or campus, IDP's decision could be considered as short-sighted, despite its financial difficulties. One source at an Australian university indicates that IDP does not seem to have adequately considered the needs of the tertiary sector clients that pay its bills.
On the other hand, other policies have been announced elsewhere that seem better placed to help attract a diverse student body. Malaysia is to allow part-time work rights to all international students in the country to be on a par with other study destinations. Initiatives to speed up visa processes are being promised by UK authorities, while the USA is pointing to its own improving visa record.
Key factors such as the visa process and work rights - determined on a macro-policy level - will sway students, so for schools, it is essential that their governments keep in tune with the competition. As we find out in our Special Report, long-term demand for international education shows good potential for growth, especially with school curricula policy around the world indicating that second language skills are more essential than ever.